Press freedom is under threat from a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code that would undermine a proposal to decriminalize “crimes against honor” in cases where the allegedly aggrieved parties are public servants or private citizens involved in matters of public interest. The recommendations of the president’s lawmaking commission survived the first round of legislative debate on the new Criminal Code. But in the second round, legislators not only nullified the progress that had been attained in 2006, but they also added new provisions that would criminalize investigative journalism. For example, releasing documents without “proper authorization” would now be a criminal act, as would “following” or “spying” on someone without authorization from the authorities. Also, the types of information that may be categorized as “sensitive” were broadened considerably. With support from various civic and journalistic organizations, these provisions were reconsidered in the second round of debate. The National Assembly ultimately reached an internal political solution and squandered the opportunity to strengthen the freedom of speech, claiming that the gag measures that are still on the books may remain there since they are “dead letters.” The provisions related to freedom of speech that were passed by the National Assembly, pending the president’s agreement or objection, deal with confidentiality and the right to privacy. Anyone who, without proper authorization, releases private, personal documents not intended for public use—even if they are ordered to do so—will be subject to either a fine equivalent to 250 times a daily fine or weekend arrest. As for crimes against freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, anyone who prevents the publication of books or the free circulation or production of the written or spoken press will be subject to a two- to four-year prison sentence or, in the case of a public official, a three- to five-year sentence. Defamation-related crimes will be punishable by 60 to 180 days in prison. But, if committed through a spoken or written media outlet or by computer, the crime of injuria (deliberately offensive words or actions) will be punishable by 6 to 12 months in prison or a fine corresponding to a similar period of time, and the crime of calumnia (falsely accusing someone of a crime) will be punishable by 12 to 18 months in prison or a fine corresponding to a similar period of time. Meanwhile, if the person alleged to have committed a “crime against honor” issues a public retraction to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party, criminal liability will be ruled out. If the aggrieved party is a public official, criminal penalties will not apply, although this does not rule out civil liability. Also, persons charged with calumnia will not be convicted if they prove that their accusations are true. Persons charged with injuria will only be allowed to argue that their claims are true if they are not about the private life or marriage of the aggrieved party. As for crimes against the state, anyone who reveals information related to state security that is considered confidential or classified under the law will be sentenced to two to four years in prison if the information ends up in the hands of a government that is at war with Panama, or if the revelation leads to an end in friendly relations with another government. These sentences will be increased by up to a third for offenders who gain the information in question through their role as public servants or through violence, fraud or any other form of deceit. While some progress has been made toward disallowing criminal penalties for crimes offending the honor of high-level public officials, the wording of these provisions does not meet the international standards of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Thirty-three journalists are currently facing charges of calumnia and injuria, most of them based on complaints by public officials. Still in effect are restrictions preventing print media outlets from assuming an interest in radio or television companies. These restrictions are contained in Law 24 of 1999, which reorganized the legal framework governing radio and television services. According to Article 1 of this law, the intention is to promote and protect investment, free competition, and quality among license holders. But the law limits the ability of print media outlets to purchase, manage or operate radio or television stations in Panama by expressly stating that no radio or television station “may be controlled directly or indirectly by a newspaper with nationwide circulation.” This ban, aside from being discriminatory against the print media, violates the very principle of free competition that it claims to uphold, as it allows current radio and television license holders to operate as many frequencies as they wish. Except for an educational university-run channel, a state-run channel, and a channel licensed to the Catholic Church, all other over-air nationwide television frequencies are owned by two private entities. The concentration of radio frequencies in the hands of a small number of private entities is a big step backward, but entirely allowable under Law 24. The $2 million civil lawsuit filed by Supreme Court Justice Winston Spadafora against journalist Jean Marcel Chevy and Editora Panamá America is continuing. The suit is based on a criminal court libel conviction for reporting on the construction by a state agency of a road to the farm of two high-level government officials, including Spadafora, who at the time was minister of justice and government.