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Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Costa Rica

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Costa Rica, February 1998, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
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.

The country's long democratic tradition and independent judiciary have created a political environment in which diverse media are able to work with few impediments.

The primary concern among journalists is abuse of the Right to Reply Law, which mandates that those criticized in the media be granted equal time or space to respond to the allegations. For example, after the daily Al Día published a series of articles about drug trafficking based on leaked documents from the Joint Center of Antidrug Intelligence, Director Lauriano Orellano Castro demanded space in the newspaper for 10 separate "replies." In another case, a Costa Rican court ordered the garnishment of US$130,000 from the newspaper Extra to cover the legal fees of a Right to Reply case stemming from a 1995 article about suspects detained by police in a stolen car. Extra quoted the suspects in the story, and it allowed them to publish a "reply" 10 days after the original story ran. But the paper was technically in violation of the law, which mandates that they reply be published within three days. The decision to garnish the legal fees was reversed after more than two months, during which time Extra nearly went bankrupt.

Journalists also charge that relations with the government have been strained under the administration of president José María Figueres because he has not made himself available to the press and government agencies have been slow to respond to requests for information.

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