El Salvador

A legislative bill on political parties brings with it a serious threat to press freedom. This new bill that argues in favor of democracy, the equality of parties and of those taking part in politics, ends up being an imposition of free placement in the news media or an imposition on the commercial information policies of the media. The draft bill for a Law on Right of Reply continues to be under discussion. The El Salvador Congress is keeping the bill on its agenda. One of those accused of the April 2011 murder of cameraman Alfredo Hurtado was convicted in June this year. He is Jonathan Alexander Martínez Castro, aged 20, sentenced to 30 years in prison. The authorities issued an order for the arrest of a second suspect, identified as Marion Stanley Ábrego Rivas, 21, but he remains at large. Hurtado’s murder was carried out by members of gangs, organizations that have represented the greatest threat to citizens and the press. Since 2007 three murders of journalists have been recorded, and in all cases gangsters have been involved. On another matter, several organizations have called for the implementation of the Access to Information Institute and the naming of those in charge of it. This Institute was created under the Access to Public Information Law, in effect since May 8. Those appointments come under the responsibility of President Mauricio Funes. Last June, on instructions from the president of the Legislative Assembly, a reporter from El Diario de Hoy, Rafael Mendoza López, was denied access to that organ of the state to do his work. After years of covering the Legislative Assembly, it was argued that he committed a supposed fault, never proven to him, which led the government to take that step.