Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The media maintain their independence, scrutinize the government, and cover issues sensitive to the military, including human rights. The Press Law passed in 2001 brought about sweeping reforms that rid the country of most criminal insult laws, protected journalists from the obligation to reveal their sources, and ended the power of the courts to issue gag laws on the press for reporting on controversial criminal cases. However, the law also limited the definition of a journalist to one who has graduated from a recognized journalism school. Despite the reforms, the penal code still prohibits insulting state institutions such as the presidency and the legislative and judicial bodies. In one case, the president of the Supreme Court brought charges against a businessman who, while participating in a talk show, insulted the courts by calling them immoral, cowardly, and corrupt. The man was briefly imprisoned but was released on bail and is awaiting trial. President Ricardo Lagos has put forward a bill that would eliminate all remaining insult laws on the books; however, the congress has yet to act on the legislation. In 2002, the media played a key role in fostering public awareness of the country's growing problem with public corruption. In another positive development, on October 30, the Senate approved a bill that will eliminate censorship of films.