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Ratification of Press Law will eliminate all charges against journalist

(IFJ/IFEX) - Journalist Alejandra Matus reports that on 10 April 2001, the Chilean Chamber of Deputies approved the Press Law, which abolishes Article 6(b) of the State Security Law (Ley de Seguridad del Estado). Two years ago, Matus was sued for the publication of her book "El Libro Negra de la Justicia Chilena" (The Black Book of Chilean Justice), under Article 6(b) of the law.

Matus reports that the law still has to be ratified by the Chilean Senate later this week. Once this occurs, the law used to prosecute Matus will no longer exist and the court will be obliged to throw out the charges against the journalist and allow her book to be circulated.

The journalist and writer reports that regardless of the law, "desacato" (insult) laws will persist in Chile. These laws establish privileges and special protection for authorities faced with public criticism, as do the prevailing criminal and military justice codes.

Matus also adds that laws allowing judges to seize finished editions of books will be maintained, such as Article 30 of the State Security Law (Ley de Seguridad del Estado), which empowers judges with this type of censorship.

Matus explains that ratification of the law, will not affect a series of accusations brought forth by Airforce Vice Commander-in-Chief Hernán Gabrielli and Senator Francisco Javier Herrázuriz against journalists and other citizens.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the senate president:
  • asking that he respect press freedom by ratifying the abolishment of the State Security Law (Ley de Seguridad del Estado) articles that threaten freedom of expression

Appeals To

Andrés Zaldívar
Senate President
E-mail: [email protected]

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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