By Zach Dyer
Costa Rica’s highest court temporarily suspended the controversial Information Crimes Law that could send journalists and other individuals to prison for up to eight years for revealing government secrets, reported the newspaper La Nación on Saturday, Nov. 24. The court said it would examine if the law violates freedom of expression and information, according to EFE.
After accepting the constitutional complaint filed by journalist Randall Rivera against the so-called “gag law,” the court announced that no one would be sentenced under Article 288, which increases the sentence from four to eight years in prison for revealing “secret political information,” until it determines its constitutionality, reported the newspaper El Financiero.
“I believe this is a guarantee that while the Constitutional Court studies [the law] no one can sentence or accuse us using this article, which calms us while we wait for something to happen,” Rivera said, according to DiarioExtra.com.
Read the full text of Rivera’s appeal in Spanish here.
Costa Rican Minister of Communication Francisco Chacón told Radio Reloj, where Rivera works, that the administration of President Laura Chinchilla celebrates the court’s decision, saying, “the law contains language that could be confusing and problematic.” Chinchilla signed the law in July 2012.
The law has drawn criticism from press groups, students and concerned citizens, especially since it went into effect on Nov. 7. Demonstrators protested against the “gag law" in the capital, San José, among other issues, on Nov. 15. Rivera’s appeal was one of three filed against the law, according to DiarioExtra.com.
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.