Despite presidential pardon, Panamanian media protest sentencing of two journalists

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  • October 11, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

Panamanian journalists have joined forces to demand more respect for freedom of expression and to express objections over legal setbacks in the area, reported La Prensa.

At the heart of the press's criticisms is the defamation sentencing of two journalists, who were prohibited from practicing journalism for a year. Even though President Ricardo Martinelli officially pardoned both journalists, media outlets and reporters said this does not solve the underlying problem and what's more, there never should have been anything to pardon, added EFE and Panamá América.

According to the human rights ombudsman, the work prohibition against Sabrina Bacal and Justino González sets a dangerous precedent, explained Hora Cero.

On Friday, Oct. 8, radio and television stations agreed to go dark for 30 seconds during the morning, mid-day and afternoon news, as a symbol of mourning for freedom of expression. During the evening, journalists protested in front of the Supreme Court and called for a revision of laws considered to restrict freedom of expression, reported La Estrella.

Organizations like Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Inter America Press Association and the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in Panama echoed these demands.

Currently, 45 defamation cases against journalists are pending.

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.