25 May 2023

The IAPA Applauds "Promising Precedent" Against the Stigmatization of Journalists

Judicial ruling against Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves vindicates reporters.

Miami (May 24, 2023) The ruling of the Constitutional Court of Costa Rica against President Rodrigo Chaves for verbally attacking journalists is a "promising precedent" against the practice of stigmatizing the press from the spheres of power, affirmed today the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). The continental organization has denounced these faults in numerous American countries for several years.

"We applaud this promising precedent for press freedom, which establishes jurisprudence in the face of a growing problem in many countries of the region, where journalists and the media are vilified by political power to counter opinions, criticism, or journalistic investigations," affirmed the IAPA president, Michael Greenspon, global head of Licensing and Print Innovation of The New York Times, United States.

The Constitutional Chamber IV of the Costa Rican Supreme Court granted an appeal for amparo by José Ureña, a journalist for the online newspaper CRHoy, considering the grievances made by President Chaves and the then Minister of Health, Joselyn Chacón, during a press conference in January. The president called reporters present there "political hitmen," including those from the newspaper La Nación and the Teletica channel.

The president of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, recalled: "At our semi-annual meeting in April, we clearly stated that stigmatization is a form of apology for violence since it incites the violent to attack the press." He added that the "discrediting of journalism has been enthroned in political language to minimize the force of journalism in its auditing and investigative work on public corruption cases."

In the sentence, Chamber IV indicates that "certain expressions and words used by officials are not justified and do constitute an excess, for which reason they could promote harassment against the mentioned media and journalists." Last year, President Chaves had also been questioned about his denigrating language against journalism after he described those who carry out the activity of reporting as "rats."

At its Mid-Year meeting in April, the IAPA issued a resolution on stigmatization in which it urged the governments of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Paraguay "to guarantee that the public debate is handled with respect, tolerance and within the framework of the principles of freedom of expression."

In the Conclusions of that meeting, the IAPA expressed that "the stigmatization and public degradation of the press is a widespread phenomenon among presidents and high officials."