Costa Rica | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

18

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

6

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Costa Rica's press environment is considered to be among the freest in Latin America. Freedom of communication is guaranteed under Article 24 of the constitution, which also reserves the government's right to seize private documents. However, Costa Rica continues to have strict libel laws that provide for penalties of up to three years' imprisonment in cases of insult of a public official, though these have been under review since 2004, when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights struck down the 1999 defamation conviction of La Nacion's Mauricio Herrera Ulloa. In separate cases, the convictions of two journalists charged with press infractions in 2004 were overturned, while a third conviction remains on appeal. In a positive step, in December the trial began of nine men accused in the 2001 murder of Parmenio Medina, radio host of the controversial program "La Patada." On June 8, 2005, a new press freedom group, the Istituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresion, was created in an attempt to limit the effects of defamation laws and to promote and facilitate freedom of expression. Costa Rica has a vibrant media scene, although private media ownership is highly concentrated and generally conservative. The Inter American Press Association has criticized an unofficial government ban on advertising in La Nacion. Radio is the most popular outlet for news dissemination, though several daily newspapers are widely circulated. There are approximately 1 million internet users, and access to the internet is unrestricted.