Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Chile

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Chile, February 1998, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Buoyed by continued economic growth and increasingly stable democratic institutions, the Chilean press worked to remove laws established during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which impose criminal penalties on journalists convicted of dishonoring the congress, the military, or the flag. Journalists who reveal "state secrets" can also be charged under the State Security Law, and military courts retain the power to try journalists accused of defaming military personnel or of sedition, although the laws have not been enforced in recent years.

Chilean journalists have been lobbying congress to create a uniform legal standard for libel and to eliminate all criminal penalties. The proposed press law has been wending its way through the Congress for several years and is not expected to be voted on until sometime in 1998. Press groups are also working to have a shield law, which would protect journalists from being compelled to reveal their sources, incorporated into the new legislation.

Journalists are also lobbying to overturn a controversial law that allows judges to ban reporting on judicial investigations. In June, Judge Beatriz Pedrals issued an injunction barring journalists from reporting on the trial of Mario Silva Leiva, an alleged drug trafficker who was accused of bribing court officials and police officers. One newspaper, La Tercera, got around the ruling by posting dispatches on the World Wide Web. Judge Pedrals' ban was overturned after 10 days by the Court of Appeals.

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