Reporters Without Borders hails newly-announced regulations that will determine how Bolivia’s controversial anti-racism law is implemented. “The regulations eliminate the law’s ambiguities and constitute a very positive response to our criticisms of the law, the principle of which we have always supported,” the press freedom organisation said.
Unveiled yesterday in La Paz by culture minister Zulma Yugar and justice minister Nilda Copa after consultations, the regulations define in very precise and restrictive terms the law’s vaguely-worded and therefore controversial article 16 punishing any news media “that publish or endorse racist or discriminatory ideas.”
The regulations say that the following will be punished: “1 - Deliberate and systematic statements, expressed verbally or in written form, designed to hurt the dignity of a person or group of people for racist and discriminatory motives; 2 - The systematic dissemination of messages with racist or discriminatory content, as propaganda or in announcements, advertisements or paid spaces, that incite hatred, contempt, violence or persecution of a person or group of people; 3 – Defending or condoning racist or discriminatory acts with the aim of justifying hatred, violence or persecution of a person or group of people.”
The regulations specify that media will not be held accountable if they report messages of a racist nature simply as part of their coverage of a development, and will not be held responsible for any independent programmes they broadcast. On the other hand, they will have a duty, during live broadcasts, to interrupt racist comments and to alert the public about them.
Finally, the regulations have eliminated any provision for a media’s definitive closure. Instead, there is provision for suspensions for periods of up to 360 days for a third offence.