New law in Buenos Aires will "protect" media within the city from closures, suspensions and confiscations

Following seven hours of debate, the city government of Buenos Aires on Thursday, May 30, passed legislation relating to the protection of press and civil liberties, AFP reported.

The approved text states that "the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires guarantees the rights of all to freely search, express, receive and disseminate, through whichever manner they choose, information, opinions, ideas, and cultural demonstrations," AFP added.

The passage of the law creates a special judicial area within the city which "regulates and protects the rights of news organizations and journalists," according to EFE.  Media organizations located in the city cannot be shut down, suspended or have their equipment confiscated, unless it is through the city's own judicial branch, reported the daily Clarín.

The law, supported by Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri, is seen by many as an attack against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's Media Law. Although the Media Law was approved by Congress in 2009, the law has not been fully enforced due to an injunction filed by the media group Grupo Clarín, which argues the proposed reduction of licenses is unconstitutional.

If Argentina's Supreme Court – where Grupo Clarín's current claim is currently being heard – decides on that law's constitutionality, media organizations based in Buenos Aires would have a legal recourse to protect themselves from confiscation or from having their equipment seized.

This hasn't been the only law of this type in the country. Last week, the governor of the province of Córdoba, José Manuel de la Sota, announced he would send proposed legislation to the provincial legislature that will aim to protect freedom of expression for journalists and the media, the daily La Nación reported.

"The people of Córdoba want to stop the arrogance of the national government. We will fight to defend freedom of expression. The regulation is supported by the national constitution," said De la Sota, who added that in Argentina "there is no freedom of expression," reported the daily.


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.