El Salvador's president supports bill decriminalizing libel, but only with amendments

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, an ex-journalist, came out in support of a reform to decriminalize slander, libel and defamation in the Central American country, reported the newspaper El Diario de Hoy on Oct. 1.

The legislative assembly approved a decree on Sept. 8 to substitute incarceration with fines for crimes against public image and privacy, reported Prensa Gráfica.

Another of the reforms suggests suspending journalists for six months to two years, instead of a monetary penalty, for committing a crime against someone's honor by publishing false, defaming, or slanderous information. President Funes suggested eliminating this condition.

While the reform defends the victim's right to objection, the president set a deadline of three days for the media to publish the victim's response in its entirety for free.

The bill requires 56 "yes" votes from the 84 legislators to pass without the president's amendments, according to the Cuban news agency, Prensa Latina.