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Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemns Costa Rica

Costa Rica was condemned by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) for freedom of expression violations against two Costa Rican journalists who worked at La Nación.

The president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), Judge Ricardo Pérez Manrique, notified the ruling in the case of Moya Chacón et al. v. Costa Rica. The events date back to 2005 after a police officer filed a lawsuit against journalists Ronald Moya Chacón and Freddy Parrales Chaves for a news article published in the newspaper La Nación.

The police officer claimed that the article written and published by Moya and Parrales damaged his reputation.

In 2007, the Costa Rican judges absolved the journalists of all criminal liability but established a civil penalty, determining that the article in question had caused moral damage to the official. The Court of Appeals later ratified this.

After the written phase and the public hearing, the IACHR unanimously determined that the civil penalty imposed on journalists Moya Chacón and Parrales Chaves was neither necessary nor proportional and, therefore, contravened Articles 13(1) and 13(2) of the American Convention.

“The right to freedom of expression, particularly in matters of public interest, is a bedrock of the very existence of a democratic society and that, without an effective guarantee of freedom of expression, the democratic system is weakened, and pluralism and tolerance are undermined,” stated the Court.

As part of the reparation measures, the IACHR Court ordered to annul the attribution of civil liability to Moya Chacón and Parrales Chaves. In addition, the Court ordered the publication of the ruling and payment for non-pecuniary damages, costs, and expenses.

Historically, Costa Rica has been a strong defender and promoter of the mechanisms offered by the Inter-American Human Rights System. 

“Costa Rica’s obligation to comply with the judgments of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in addition to being expressly regulated in the American Convention on Human Rights, has a specific legal basis in the Headquarters Agreement with this Court, approved in our country since 1983,” said Foreign Minister Arnoldo André.

André also explained that “international obligations must be fulfilled in good faith.”

Within a year, the government must present a report informing the judges of the measures taken to comply with the sentence.

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