Report to the 72nd General Assembly

Mexico City, Mexico

October 13-17, 2016


In this period there have been serious attacks on freedom of the press and of expression.

In May President Michelle Bachelet filed a calumny and libel lawsuit against four journalists of the magazine Qué Pasa, belonging to the Grupo Copesa group. This publication reproduced a telephone conversation (leaked to the press) of one of the accused in the investigation being conducted by the Attorney General's Office concerning alleged illicit business of the company of a son and daughter-in-law of the president. This criminal investigation gave rise to the Qué Pasa inquiries in February 2015.

It is unprecedented that a head of state files a lawsuit against a media outlet "as a citizen" and with the aim of demanding greater ethics and responsibility from the press.

The president later decided to withdraw the lawsuit.

Under debate in Congress are some bills that could restrict editorial freedom. One bill would amend the Work Code, reserving the possibility of excluding from the length of the ordinary working day those who work in news media.

The Chile Journalists Guild, jointly with members of Congress that have sponsored this initiative, insists on excluding journalists from paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Work Code, which establishes that the work schedule of 45 hours a week is not applicable to those that "work without immediately higher supervision ... or provide their services preferably outside the place where the company operates, through the use of news media or telecommunications."

Given the nature of the work of the press journalists have agreed that their work not be submitted to a number of hours daily but be more flexible, always with payment of various kinds. The previously mentioned prohibition implies a derogation for journalists in both their remunerations and their work freedom.

Another bill would regulate the protection of private life in reference to advertising. It has as its objective amending the laws of consumer protection and of personal information, with the aim that providers can send advertising communications to consumers solely when there exists prior expressed agreement. It would prohibit the inclusion of this authorization through adhesion contracts, which implies the impossibility of obtaining said consent. This bill would impose obstacles to the way in which media finance their operation, threatening the survival of small ones.

The right to be forgotten has been taking on a great deal of strength. There is a bill that seeks to establish the right to be forgotten as an inalienable ability of a holder of personal information to demand its elimination from publications. The initiative says that information published in the media and that may cause harm to a person by turning out to be offended or unjustly alluded to would by governed by the Law on Protection of Personal Information that regulates the treatment of databases.

The right to be forgotten is not contained in the legislation and it is only possible to erase a piece of personal information of someone that figures in the database that is available on the Web.

The media on not being databases, as is recognized in the Law on Protection of Personal Information, do not have an obligation to erase news or news facts.