November 8th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) Both journalists and citizens in Costa Rica could now face up to 10 years in jail if they publish “secret political information.”
The Nation’s Presidency published a law known as the “Gag Law” (Ley Mordaza, in Spanish) in the official newspaper La Gaceta, on Tuesday, which puts the law into immediate effect.
Jose Rodolfo Ibarra, president of the Journalists Professional College, said that the passage of the law effectively ends the freedom of expression for journalists.
Costa Rican journalists had requested changes to sections 167, 196, 231 and 236.
These sections punish the publication, search and access of personal information. Journalists and media organizations wanted an exception made where the case is of public interest.
Although the term “political secret” already existed in the Penal Code, the approved reform does not state that it is only in reference to concerns of national security, but rather includes political secrets, security concerns, and even information on organized crime. Publishing such information could result in up to 10 years in prison.
The Journalists Professional College summoned its Board of Directors to an urgent meeting in order to decide what measures need to be taken as a result of the passage of the law.