New anti-human trafficking law in Bolivia would affect media outlets' finances, journalists say

By Silvia Higuera/AM

The National Press Association of Bolivia, or ANP, described new rules in the country's law against human trafficking as an "attack" on freedom of expression and the "confiscation" of media outlets' financial resources, news portal Los Tiempos reported. The new rules, which were approved on Feb. 6, orders newspapers, magazines, TV channels and radio stations to publish and broadcast obligatory notices to help prevent and educate people about human trafficking crimes, the portal added.

"The good intentions of educating citizens thus suffers (when imposing) a profound distortion, instead of coordinating with the media, something we have always been willing to do for the purpose of orienting and helping citizens keep safe," said the organization through a press release, the portal said.

For the ANP, the rules deprive media outlets of an important part of their advertising income, which they called a "government abuse," El Diario said. As it is, with the current rules in the country's laws against racism and discrimination -- which was accused of establishing a mechanism of censorship and also generated controversy -- media outlets are obligated to dedicate three pages a month to messages from the government, ANP said.

The organization added that an upcoming bill on the protection of women may include similar obligations as well, radio station FM Bolivia said. "At this rhythm, newspapers soon will have to publish only government ads, something that constitutes a new form of attack against freedom of the press and citizens' freedom to choose the media outlets (they follow) to inform themselves."