QCOSTARICA – President Carlos Alvarado, partially vetoed this Friday the Ley de Acceso a la Información Pública y Transparencia – Law on Access to Public Information and Transparency, also known as the “gag law”.
The law, approved prior to May 1 by the outgoing legislators, would have prohibited journalists from reporting on criminal investigations, dismissals of officials or raids.
Casa Presidencial explained that the veto is due “to reasons of constitutionality” which falls on subsections D and K of article 8 of the law promoted by the former legislator Carmen Chan.
The veto was also signed by the Minister of the Presidency, Geannina Dinarte, and by the Minister of Communication, Agustín Castro.
The veto for reasons of unconstitutionality falls on subsections D and K of article 8 of the law promoted by the former legislator Carmen Chan.
“It represents a risk for the full exercise of the right of access to public information and for freedom of the press, for which it is unconstitutional, and against the Political Constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights.
“although they have a commendable intention to adequately regulate access to public information (subsections B, E, F, G, H and I of Article 8 of Legislative Decree 10,242) could cause interpretive confusion that limits it or causes legal insecurity,” president Alvarado said.
The president declared that the limitation established in the legislation “generates a breach of the constitutional and conventional order of the exercise of freedom of the press, which has been one of the most important values of Costa Rican democracy throughout history.”
Since the end of last week, authorities from the Association of Journalists had asked the president to veto it because it constituted a gag law that placed limits on important denunciations of corruption.
This call was joined during this week by the new legislators, first, by the legislative faction of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), then by the Frente Amplio(FA) and the Portico Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC).
On Thursday, the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) joined the legislative rejection of the gag law, but as a political Directory and not as a parliamentary bench, as emphasized by the head of faction, Kattia Rivera.
Meanwhile, the Partido Progreso Social Democrático (PPSD) caucus and the Nueva Republica caucus have remained silent on the matter.
Access to information
Minister Dinarte assured that the outgoing administration is committed to guaranteeing citizens’ access to information.
“This access must be framed not only in the constitutional principles that govern us, but also in the commitments that we have assumed with international conventions,” she explained.
The vetoed law now goes back to the Legislative Assembly.
The Presidency called on the new legislators to accept, in the shortest possible time, the presidential veto, correct the text of the law and be able to guarantee access to information on public management and matters of interest to the country.
“The Government, in an expeditious manner, gave priority to the study of the legislative decree and the issuance of the partial veto, with the purpose of correcting these errors and having legislation on the matter as soon as possible that, at the same time, be compatible with the widest possible exercise of those freedoms,” added Agustín Castro, outgoing Minister of Communication.
Carlos Alvarado’s mandate as president ends at noon on Sunday, May 8, when Rodrigo Chaves is sworn is as the 49th president of Costa Rica, as his new cabinet of ministers.