IAPA Midyear Meeting 2017

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

March 31 – April 3


During this period there has been concern at legislative reforms that threaten press freedom.

The bill that would amend the Labor Code would limit the ordinary work day in news media. The Journalists Guild and members of Congress that sponsored this initiative insist on a work day totaling 45 hours a week. This implies a reduction for journalists, both in remuneration and in their freedom to work, and a restriction for editorial companies in limiting their right to organize the work of the press in the most convenient manner. The competent authorities (Labor Minister) have refused to meet with the National Press Association.

Members of Congress are continuing with the bill on the right to forget as a benefit for a person who wishes to call for his or her elimination from publications. The right to forget is not taken up in the bill, there is only protected by the law the possibility of removing a personal datum of someone who appears in a database or file that is available on the Internet. The media on not being databases, as recognized in the Law on Protection of Personal data, do not have the obligation to remove news or newsworthy facts.

A bill seeks to preserve the privacy, honor and image of children and of women that find themselves in a vulnerable situation, especially those that have been subjected to violence. In another bill it is sought to make a news media outlet responsible, through fines, for advertisements that denigrate a woman.

One of the amendments that is of most concern is that of the Political Constitution of the Republic which the current government is seeking to impel through "Self-Convened Citizens' Dialogues," which has not given indications that it may contain requirements in favor of press freedom.

To lay the foundation for the free and independent practice of journalism the new charter should recognize and protect the right to express ideas and opinions freely and to disseminate or communicate these in the media or in the manner that each person considers to be convenient, without limits or orientations, nor prior censorship.