El Salvador

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WHEREAS the Court of Children and Youth validated the polemic decision of a judge who had sanctioned the director of the newspaper La Prensa Gráfica of San Salvador to payment of a fine for having published a photograph of a person who was seventeen years old at the time, taken at the moment that he was killing another youth; and WHEREAS such images and information had been reproduced by a large number of graphic and electronic media of El Salvador; and WHEREAS the subject of the photograph was convicted as the killer and is now in prison; and WHEREAS another judge used these very images as evidence to verify the complicity of another person in the crime, who was also sentenced to prison for the same occurrence; and WHEREAS, far from correcting the excessive interpretation of the decision of the first level, which restricted the right to information due to an event of unquestioned public interest, the Court extended its reach in a personal manner against José Roberto Dutriz; and WHEREAS article 191 of the Salvadoran Penal Code, which protects freedom of expression by not considering punishable journalistic, artistic, scientific, and literary criticism, was declared unconstitutional by a majority of the members of the Constitutional Section of the Supreme Court of Justice, thus permitting criminalization of the owners, directors, and editors of media outlets WHEREAS Principle 5 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states “Prior censorship, restrictions on the circulation of the media or dissemination of their reports, forced publication of information, the imposition of obstacles to the free flow of news, and restrictions on the activities and movements of journalists directly contradict freedom of the press” ao livre fluxo informativo e as limitações ao livre exercício e movimentação dos jornalistas se opõem diretamente à liberdade de imprensa”. THE IAPA GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to exhort the appellate courts of El Salvador to contemplate, in these and similar criminal cases in which public interest is at stake, adequate protection of the right to information, avoiding rigorous excesses that would put at risk the right of society to be informed; to urge the Legislative Assembly to decriminalize the exercise of freedom of expression and opinion, considering that these penal provisions discourage criticism and the investigation of criminal acts and corruption.

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