Law to regulate journalists' salaries pulled in Panama

Following criticism, Panamanian Representative Rubén Frías Ortega of the Cambio Democrático party will withdraw his bill that would regulate journalists' salaries, reported the newspaper La Estrella.

The bill was criticized for setting requirements for who could practice journalism in the Central American country. The bill would have required all practicing journalists to have Panamanian citizenship and a university degree in journalism. Furthermore, the bill would have created a pay scale for journalists.

The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) released a statement calling the bill a "retrograde action" and "a backward step for press freedom and democracy in that country.”

IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín recalled other similar measures in the past that attempted to limit freedom of the press in Panama, such as a 2002 bill that sought to create a Supreme Council of Journalism. Until 1999, Panama regulated journalism in the country through the Technical Board of Journalism. The Technical Board, established in 1978, was created under the military dictatorship and determined who could practice journalism.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights states in the Declaration on Principles on Freedom of Expression that "compulsory membership or the requirement of a university degree for the practice of journalism constitute unlawful restrictions of freedom of expression."