Costa Rica

Report to the 74th General Assembly
October 19 to 22, 2018
Salta, Argentina
In this period the press has suffered attacks on the part of those in political and economic power, as well as from the citizens in general.

Several news media, such as Diario Extra, CrHoy and El Guardian, are being discriminated against by a government that does not make statements to their journalists, marginalizing them in press conferences and excluding them from the lists of interviews that are arranged from the Presidential House.

President Carlos Alvarado, also a journalist and four months from having assumed office, instead of facilitating dialogues has limited his contact with reporters and restricted access to press conferences. Several media outlets have to make questions via e-mail, but the responses overpass the time considered under the law, which is 10 working days.

Diario Extra had to have the protection of officers of the Public Force during a protest march. The protesters issued threats and left slogans painted on its walls with phrases such as "sexists, sensationalists, and shut them down."

CrHoy has received pressures on the part of several of those involved in or investigated in the "Chinese cement" case, one of corruption that left senior government officials fired and businessmen and bankers in jail.

In the discussion on the bill for the Law on Strengthening Public Finances the CrHoy has been threatened directly and indirectly by union leaders and some companies which would restrict the amount of advertising if the government's proposal is approved.

In August two news teams of Noticias Repretal and Extra TV of the Grupo Extra group were rebuked for feminist statements and told to stop recording and broadcasting a vigil held in downtown San José.
On September 12 journalist Javier Córdoba of the Seminary University and a female photographer of the online newspaper MundoCR were attacked by policemen during a student protest that began in the street and ended up on the campus of Costa Rica University in San José.

The same day groups of demonstrators rebuked the news team of Canal 7 television, accusing them of being "sellout press" and preventing their work on the Great March Against the Fiscal Sledgehammer. The attacks continued for several days.

On September 14 outside the Legislative Assembly a group of public sector workers threatened to beat up several reporters who were broadcasting their protests. Police had to shelter the media in a special place to prevent attacks.

The following day University of Costa Rica students came out in a march to the Presidential House to protest against police abuse and verbally attacked news teams from Repretel Canal 6 television, reporter Roy Solano and cameraman Carlos Cruz.

In Limón province journalist Hernán Barrantes was surrounded, pushed and rebuked by strikers as he was covering blockades on Route 32 that leads to the country's most important ports. Several people tried to seize his camera and prevented him from recording. A similar situation happened to teams of Telenoticias of Canal 7 and CrHoy television in other parts of the country.

Concerning legal matters, there currently exist two bills, for the Law on Freedom of Expression and of the Press number 20362 and the Law on Access to Information. In both cases there are sought limits on the practice of journalism. In the case of the access to public information the bill reiterates more than 30 rules in national juridical statutes and rulings by the Constitutional Court that restrict such access.

Under discussion is approval of a fiscal amendment under Law 20580 on the Strengthening of Public Finances, which exempted from payment of value added tax on advertising television and radio stations, but not print media.

The text includes value added tax on "services of telecommunications, of radio and television, independently of the media outlet or technological platform by means of which said service is provided," imposing higher tax rates and exonerating large corporations such as cooperatives and exporters.