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Chile urged to enact new media laws

Reporters Without Borders today [17 June 2013] submitted recommendations on Chile to the UN Human Rights Council, which is due to discuss the country during the 18th Universal Periodic Review in January and February 2014, shortly after the November presidential election. This process consists of a review of human rights achievements by UN member countries and, if necessary, a reminder of their responsibilities in this area.

Reporters Without Borders calls on Chile to enact new laws to create a balance between the various types of broadcasting organizations. More egalitarian legislation would usher in genuine pluralism in news and information, particularly as far as community media outlets are concerned. About 95 percent of newspaper titles are currently in the hands of two privately-owned communications groups, El Mercurio and Copesa, and almost 60 percent of radio stations are owned by the Spanish media group Prisa.

The press freedom organization calls on the Chilean government to decriminalize press offences, in particular defamation, as was done in Argentina in 2009. The scope of the 1984 Anti-Terrorism Law must be strictly limited in view of its abusive use against Chilean and foreign journalists recently in the central region of Araucania.

Reporters Without Borders urges law enforcement authorities to respect the work and physical integrity of journalists, who are frequent targets of police brutality while they are covering protest demonstrations, and asks the interior ministry to penalize those responsible for any abuses.

Some subjects, such as human rights violations during the dictatorship or the struggle of the Mapuche Indians, remain highly sensitive and the organization urges the government to ensure the safety of journalists who investigate these, such as Mauricio Weibel Barahona, who was harassed and robbed after he published secret files from the dictatorship era in a book.

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