Press freedom in Panama has come under threat from the new Penal Code, which places new restrictions on investigative journalism. In a significant development, the Panamanian press showed solidarity with the Venezuelan media, especially regarding the closure of RCTV on May 27. On Monday, June 4, all national newspapers in Panama came out with their page two covered in black except for the statement, “Without speech there is no freedom, not in Venezuela, nor in the rest of the world.” And broadcast television stations, cable channels with national news programs, and more than 40 radio stations simultaneously blacked out their transmissions during their morning and evening news segments and broadcast the same statement after 30 seconds. While this period has been used to build public awareness of the importance of freedom of information, episodes of mistrust in the media and unease with free speech continued to be the source of problems in the executive and legislative branches. The new Penal Code was adopted with no significant changes regarding freedom of speech. As a result, we face the following problems: Under the category known as “crimes against honor,” injuria (insulting or offensive words or actions) and calumnia (false accusations of a crime) — if committed through the print or broadcast media using a computer system — will be punishable by 12 months in prison or an equivalent fine in the case of injuria and by 12 to 18 months in prison or an equivalent fine for calumnia. The offender can avoid criminal responsibility for “crimes against honor” by issuing a public retraction, provided that the aggrieved party agrees to this. If the aggrieved party is a government official, no criminal penalty will apply, but this would not rule out civil liability in the case. Also, someone charged with calumnia will be exempt from penalty if the accusations that gave rise to the charge are proven true. The same standard will only apply to a defendant in an injuria case if the statements were not in reference to the marriage or private life of the aggrieved party. As for crimes against the state, anyone who reveals information that under laws regarding state security is deemed confidential will be sentenced to two to four years in prison if the disclosed information ends up in the hands of a government that is at war with Panama or if the disclosure leads to the interruption of friendly relations with another government. The sanctions will increase by one third if the offender learned the information through his or her role as a public servant or uses violent, fraudulent or otherwise deceitful means to obtain the information. Though some progress has been made regarding the decriminalization of “crimes against honor” involving high-level public servants, the code, as drafted, is not consistent with the international standards of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Thirty-four journalists are currently facing charges of calumnia or injuria, and most of these cases were brought by government officials. Thus, the opportunity to clarify this issue in the new Penal Code was squandered. The new Penal Code will take effect in May 2008. Under the previous code, some 34 journalists were charged with “crimes against honor” — about the same number as the year before. No journalist has been convicted or acquitted in these cases.