Report to the Midyear Meeting

Panama, Panama

March 6 – 9, 2015

Political forces have made some attempts to curtail press freedom, especially as it relates to freedom of information.

In one such case, Justice Minister Cristina Ramírez Chavarría denied the request of La Nación journalist David Delgado for information on overcrowding in Costa Rican prisons. The Constitutional Court granted Delgado's appeal for relief and ordered Ramírez to provide the information to him.

The justice minister initially gave her assurance that she would furnish this information, but she later filed an appeal for "addition and clarification," as allowed by the Law on Constitutional Jurisdiction, in an obvious attempt to hinder enforcement of the Constitutional Court's ruling. This appeal was denied, however, and the justices again ordered the minister to provide the information. Still, Ramírez failed to meet this obligation.

In another development, social-democratic legislator Rolando González asked the Presidential House for a list of the names of its visitors, but this request was denied by the executive branch on the grounds that excessive transparency would jeopardize national security and sovereignty.

The leadership body of the Legislative Assembly issued a rule restricting the media's access to information. Under this rule, only certain officials can disclose information. Media outlets and the Costa Rican Journalists Association spoke out against this measure.

A journalists' forum was recently held to debate the issue of classified information and the government's authority to withhold certain types of information.