19 September 2013
The passage of amendments to the Law on Information-Technology Crimes was one of the most significant developments of the past six months. The law had been criticized by the press for including prison terms for publishing “confidential political information,” a phrase seen as ambiguous and troublesome. This term was deleted from the law and replaced with “State secrets,” a phrase that appears in the Constitution. The latest version of the law eliminates prison terms for publishing, disseminating, or broadcasting information of public interest, public documents, information contained in public records, and public databases. The amendments were passed in April and signed into law by President Laura Chinchilla in July. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, and amid a drop in her popularity ratings, Chinchilla said: “Costa Rica has an active, vibrant system for freedom of expression. There is absolutely no censorship of any kind against any dissident, political or media group, which does exist in other countries in the Americas.” Costa Rica is preparing for presidential and congressional elections in February 2014. Public officials, national and international experts, and representives of academia and civil society participated in a workshop on freedom of information in September. Costa Rica has no specific law on access to public information, and the administration has stressed the need to pass a law to guarantee this right. No progress has been made in the Legislative Assembly on an initiative to decriminalize acts of defamation.