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Motion for legal protection due to a decree that restricts freedom of expression and access to information during presidential elections

May 28, 2010

The Center for the Study in Law, Justice and Society – Dejusticia, the Electoral Observation Mission – MOE, Media for Peace, the Association of Colombian Newspapers – Andiarios, and the Foundation for Press Freedom – FLIP interposed a motion for legal protection against the Interior and Justice Ministry for the issuance of the decree regulating public order during the first and second rounds of presidential elections, considering that some articles violated the freedom of expression and access to information. On May 24, 2010 the decree 1800 which “sets out regulations for the preservation of public order during the presidential elections” was issued. The decree, which is the same that has been used since the elections of 1994, restricts journalists freedom of expression and information on the day of presidential elections. These restrictions require the media to convey information relating to public order only when it has been confirmed by official sources. It also forbids the media to publish any information on the election results that is different to the one released by electoral authorities. Additionally, it orders the media to give priority to the messages issued by these authorities in the electoral process. After doing a legal review of these standards, the organizations find that the Ministry is violating the fundamental rights of journalists since it ignores the principle of non-censorship, makes unreasonable restrictions, and, moreover, is dealt with by a decree when the Constitution is clear in giving regulatory power to statutory laws.

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