Bolivian court rejects attempt to put anti-racism law to popular vote

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  • October 13, 2010

By Maira Magro

The judge presiding over Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Court, Wilfredo Ovando, rejected efforts by journalism groups to hold a referendum on two controversial articles in the recently approved anti-racism law, EFE reports. The new rules were signed into law by President Evo Morales last week, igniting protests from activists and journalists who argue the law violates freedom of expression.

Ovando said it was “impossible” to hold such a vote, because the law regulating popular initiatives is unfinished, Jornadanet explains.

According to La Razón, in spite of Ovando’s ruling, media associations, unions, and journalists will continue to work in cities countrywide to gather a million signatures in support of the referendum. The goal is to overturn two articles that activists claim violate freedom of expression: one that will suspend the license of media outlets that publish racist and discriminatory ideas, and another that establishes a system of severe legal punishment for journalists.

In the city of Santa Cruz, 20 journalists are on hunger strike, EFE adds.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.