IAPA Midyear Meeting 2018

Medellín, Colombia

During this period, the main threats to press freedom and freedom of expression are related to the submission of constitutional reform and bills.

Five days before the end of her term in office, President Michelle Bachelet sent Congress a draft of the New Political Constitution. The project was neither known nor agreed upon by the political parties, not even those of her own coalition. With regard to freedom of expression, it proposed amending the provisions on freedom of opinion and information, stating that, "under no circumstances may the law establish a state or private monopoly on the media, always guaranteeing the validity of editorial and informational pluralism in the media."

This last sentence was incorporated into the project, and is the one that generates the greatest concern, given that it does not indicate how pluralism of information will be guaranteed. The concern is based on the initiatives promoted by the College of Journalists - that tends towards state funding for new media, which could be exposed to receiving this funding provided they are willing to go along with the government of the moment.

Also, an initiative was outlined to divide the electric radio spectrum into three segments, one state-owned, another community-based, and a third private. This project does not have the support of the current government, which has indicated that any urgency will be removed from its discussion and that substantial changes will be made to it. The Supreme Court recently ruled on the right to be forgotten, pointing out that it corresponds to a right not recognized by law and compelling the media only to update the published news. In spite of the above, Congress has continued to discuss the bill which seeks to establish the right to be forgotten as an inalienable right of a holder of personal data to demand its removal from publications.

There are other bills aimed at protecting the privacy, honor and image of children and women in vulnerable situations, especially those who have been subjected to violence.

Nevertheless, one of the bills intends to protect the image of minors, but in practice, it does not even allow the publication of a photograph of a minor in a simple school activity.