Costa Rica


78th General Assembly

October 27 – 30, 2022

Madrid, Spain


The new president Rodrigo Chávez was the protagonist of clashes about press freedom during this period. Since he took office in May, there were tense moments when the president stigmatized some media such as La Nación, Canal 7 and CR HOY, calling them "rogue press" and "defamation media" - in response to questionings and journalistic investigations about the national government.

During Chaves' run for the Presidency, the media published information about allegations against him for sexual harassment more than a decade ago, when he worked as an economist at the World Bank, and about alleged irregularities in the financing of his political activity.

In what was considered an indirect attack on freedom of the press, on July 8 the Health Ministry suspended the sanitary permit of Parque Viva - an entertainment center owned by Grupo La Nación. The Ministry justified the suspension by explaining that it received anonymous complaints, and after evaluating the access issues for firefighters and Red Cross vehicles to Parque Viva. The measure occurred days after President Chaves provided data on the purchase of bonds issued by La Nación S. A. in the stock market between 2013 and 2014, and questioned the economic situation of the company - according to the newspaper. The Executive Branch insisted that the measure was due to insecurity issues and not an attack on freedom of expression. At a press conference after the incident, Chaves said: "Freedom of the press in Costa Rica is in good shape. It has a government that will defend it at all costs. Are there any media outlets closed? Any journalists detained? Any presses stopped? Obviously not.

On October 21, the Constitutional Court ruled against the government, finding it incurred in an "indirect violation of freedom of the press" by ordering, in July, the closure of the Parque Viva entertainment center. The ruling included the cancellation of the sanitary order issued by the Health Ministry against the center, and the payment for costs and damages incurred.

In the writ of protection - filed by the director and several journalists of La Nación - it was stated that the government executed the administrative actions as an indirect form of censorship: "through economic pressures on companies related to the media."

In July, journalist Vilma Ibarra - of the radio program "Hablando Claro" - filed a writ of protection against a former Minister of Communication and the President's Communication Director, because they refused to participate in her program. The Fourth Court ruled partially in her favor and the Journalists Association backed it, supporting the appeal.

In September, the Health Minister issued a directive against giving statements to the media. However, the Fourth Court accepted an appeal and forced the Ministry to withdraw the directive - and indicated that statements cannot be denied to the media.

In an unusual development, in September, the Presidency ordered that journalists covering the Governing Council had to write their names in pieces of paper which were then put in a container to be randomly selected to ask questions.

On May 23 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a judgment considered "historic," declaring the international responsibility of the State of Costa Rica for violation of the right to freedom of thought and expression to the detriment of journalists Ronald Moya Chacón - editor of La Nación, and Freddy Parrales Chaves - correspondent of that newspaper. The ruling was in reference to a civil conviction for the publication of a press article in December 17, 2005, on irregularities in the transfer of liquor into Costa Rica in the border area with Panama. The article denounced several police officers who were allegedly involved in the smuggling. The Inter-American Court asked to adapt civil liability, not only in Costa Rica but in the whole continent, to the Inter-American standards - to protect freedom of expression on the handling of information of public interest disseminated in good faith.