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Canadian company files complaint against newspaper

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 26 December 2003 IAPA press release:

IAPA Concerned over Legal Action against Salvadoran Newspaper

Miami (December 26, 2003) - The Inter American Press Association's (IAPA) Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information is concerned over the filing of a complaint against managers of the Salvadoran newspaper El Diario de Hoy for articles the newspaper published about corrupt activities relating to the garbage collection system in the capital, San Salvador.

Rafael Molina, president of IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, expressed support for the newspaper's managers and said that, although all citizens and institutions have the right to turn to the justice system if they believe they have been defamed, this does not relieve media outlets of the responsibility to report on corruption, "because what is involved is the public's right to information in a truly democratic society."

Molina, editor of the Dominican Republic-based magazine Ahora, said that he hoped the El Diario de Hoy reports would result in investigations into corruption and punishment of those responsible for it.

"If they try to silence the messenger's voice in this case or present false information to media outlets and journalists in order to punish them, it will damage freedom of expression because it could lead to self-censorship, which would have a negative impact on democracy and the common good," he added.

In mid-December 2003, representatives of the privately-owned Canadian company CINTEC filed a criminal complaint against El Diario de Hoy managers Enrique Altamirano, Lafitte Fernández and Alvaro Cruz, demanding preventive custody and that the managers be prohibited from carrying out their professional activities, as well as a large sum of money in compensation. The complaint was filed in response to articles alleging that the company, which is responsible for garbage handling in 10 Salvadoran municipalities, was involved in corrupt practices.

Molina said he hopes that this type of legal action will not damage the newspaper's investigative work since "what is at risk is the public's right to information."

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