The provisions were eliminated from the Printing Press Law—known as Ley de Imprenta—which imposed prison sentences of up to 120 days for defamation in print media.
The court made the ruling while it was reviewing a defamation case against José Luis Jiménez Robleto, a reporter with the San José-daily Diario Extra, according to local news reports. Jiménez had been accused by a former Costa Rican official after publishing a news story on alleged embezzlement, the press reported. The journalist was sentenced in March 2004 to 50 days in prison based on the outdated 1902 press law. His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.
The court’s decision about the press law, issued on December 18, was made public this week. Costa Rican journalists said it was a victory for freedom of the press. The daily La Nación described it as “historic.” The paper’s editor, Armando González, said that the court set an important precedent.
“We consider the Supreme Court’s decision an important step
forward toward what we hope will be the total elimination of criminal
Laws that criminalize speech are incompatible with the
rights established under Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights,
There is growing international consensus that journalists
should not be jailed for criminal defamation. In November, the Argentine
criminal defamation provisions in the penal code. In April 2009,