MIAMI, Florida (October 3, 2017)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the inclusion of a "bad professional practice" clause in a planned reform of Bolivia's Penal Code which currently analyzes the Congress, and that could affect journalists and free practice of their profession.
The IAPA was echoing the concern of Bolivia's National Press Association (ANP), which voiced its disagreement with the suggested modification of Article 200 of the Penal Code. This proposes to replace the phrase "bad medical practice" with "bad professional practice" so that the offense of "imprudence, negligence, lack of skill, non-observance of protocols, regulations or the duties inherent in practice" be applicable to all professionals.
The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, declared that "this modification could become a dangerous instrument to limit and punish journalists' expressions, given that there would remain at the discretion of the authorities the typecasting of abuses that a journalist can commit in the process of collecting information and its dissemination, or even in the expression of opinions that could be to the displeasure of some authority in being regarded as imprudent or negligent."
Rock, director of the Mexico City, Mexico, portal La Silla Rota, said that in the case of journalism "a door is being opened to the creation of a new press offense that contravenes what is expressed in the Constitution and in the Press Law that governs in the country and which already notes how there should be treated the conduct and possible excesses that a news media or a journalist could commit."
The IAPA viewed as "positive" the stance of Senate Leader José Alberto González, who expressed his readiness to have a dialogue in the face of the ANP's public position. Rock added that "the participation of the social forces in the discussions on legislation that affect them is fundamental in a true democracy."
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.