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HomeCosta RicaCosta Rica's Declining Press Freedom Highlighted in US Report

Costa Rica’s Declining Press Freedom Highlighted in US Report

The U.S. Department of State published the 2023 Human Rights Report. The document analyzed the state of human rights in Costa Rica and reported key findings, particularly in press freedom. In general, the document revealed that there “weren’t any significant changes in the human rights situation in Costa Rica in the past year.”

However, the report found that there has been an increase in attacks on media outlets and journalists by the government. Costa Rica has always been characterized as a country that supports and grants freedom of speech for all, with independent media and a robust democratic system, the current administration is eroding one of the country’s pillars.

“Media, academic, and civil society contacts noted an increase in verbal attacks and intimidation from state officials against journalists since 2022,” the report stated.

For instance, as described by the report, last May, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that President Chaves’ and former Minister of Health Jocelyn Chacón’s verbal attacks against the media during a January 9 press conference constituted “an excess” and risked promoting harassment against the outlets and journalists named by the officials.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only incident reported, and several media outlets in the country have expressed their disapproval and concern over the President’s continuous harassment. They even stopped attending the press conferences.

“In August 2022, some outlets, including the electronic newspaper CRHoy, ceased sending correspondents to cover the president’s weekly press conferences, citing harassment and safety concerns,” the report mentioned.

Costa Rican journalists have also admitted “self-censorship due to the administration’s public rebukes of journalists, opposition politicians, and other critics.” With a confrontative tone, President Chaves has always called out anyone who does not share his views on political matters.

Last year, he called journalists “political hitmen” and belittled a report published by Reporters Without Borders, which showed Costa Rica had dropped to the 15th position in press freedom. The President’s speech has been focused on calling the press “scoundrels” and painting media and journalists as the real enemies.

The report prepared by the United States should be a wake-up call for all Costa Ricans, who must defend the value of a free press, a fundamental cornerstone of any democratic society.

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