Human Rights Court to Rule on C.R. Press Case

May 21, 2004

FOR the first time in the 25-year historyof the San José-based Inter-AmericanCourt of Human Rights, it will judge thegovernment of Costa Rica.Earlier this month, the state took thedefendant’s seat and began to fend offaccusations of the repression of one journalist’sfreedom of expression.Mauricio Herrera, journalist for thedaily La Nación, was sentenced by aCosta Rican court to pay fines for thedefamation of former Costa Rican diplomatFélix Przedborski through a series ofarticles he published in that paper (TT,Feb. 2, March 2, 2001).Herrera has asked the Human RightsCourt to annul the verdict of the criminalsuit against him and the paper. He regardsthe sentence as pernicious, stigmatizing,and a generator of self-censorship amongjournalists, La Nación reported.“(The sentence) seems to me an indignationand a humiliation for a country thatcalls itself a defender of human rights,”Herrera told La Nación.The Costa Rican court had finedHerrera the equivalent of three monthswages and the newspaper ¢60 million(about $200,000 at the time) (TT, April 2,2004).The trial date fell just before WorldPress Freedom Day, May 3, in which journalistsaround the world expressed solidaritywith their imprisoned colleagues,mourned those killed and celebrated thefreedom of the press wherever it is inforce.

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