The UN asks to change an "excessive" norm against press freedom in Bolivia

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the interim Government of Bolivia on Wednesday to modify a much-questioned decree that warns of criminal consequences for information contrary to the quarantine in the country.

The mission in Bolivia of this UN office warned that "the criminal response to the exercise of freedom of expression, as a means to combat disinformation in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic, is excessive."

For this reason, the presidential decree "must be modified so as not to criminalize freedom of expression and make it fully compatible with the international obligations of the State," he considered in a series of messages on Twitter.

The office recalls pronouncements along these lines of the UN Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The questioning of this entity joins others from entities such as the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Bolivian press associations and former Bolivian presidents such as Evo Morales, Carlos Mesa and Jorge Quiroga, among other critical voices.

The interim government of Jeanine Áñez reiterates that the decree issued by the transitional president does not entail persecution of the media and abides by the country's regulations, such as the Constitution itself, and by international treaties on freedom of information, but only seeks not to tension is generated in the country in areas such as social networks in the midst of the state of health emergency by COVID-19.

The norm published on May 10, on the Day of the Bolivian Journalist, is a modification to an article of the quarantine decree of last March and establishes criminal measures against those who "incite non-compliance" or disseminate information of "any kind" contrary to the Act of the Acting President, including through artistic expressions.

In early April, the decree on quarantine in Bolivia had already been questioned even outside the country, by organizations such as Amnesty International, considering that it threatened freedom of expression, but the Bolivian Attorney General's Office established that the rule was "fully compatible" with the laws of the constitutional state of law.


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