A controversial new media law proposed in Venezuela could lead to the imprisonment of journalists for publishing “harmful” content that undermines the government, the BBC reports.
Luisa Ortega Ortiz, a public prosecutor, proposed a change the current law because, as she stated, it was necessary to “regulate the freedom of expression” without “harming it." Based on the draft law on media offences, anything published considered “false” and intended at “creating a public panic” can lead to imprisonment.
In other words, if any newspaper editor, reporter or artist criticizes the government negatively, they can be sentenced to between six months and four years in prison for information that
attacks "the peace, security and independence of the nation and the
institutions of the state." This has stirred up a lot of controversy in Venezuela because journalists fear losing their freedom of speech. Opponents consider this draft law a threat, and believe it’s an attack on private media outlets and journalists in Venezuela. Some of 240 radio stations in the country are already at risk of being shut down for not turning in registration papers to the government on time.
A case which has often been quoted in the bitter arguments over this
law is a recent ad in national newspapers by a right-wing think
tank, Cedice, which shows a naked woman next to the slogan "The Social
Property law will take all you've got, Say No to communist laws". The government says it does not want to eliminate the right to private property, but that media outlets that publish pessimistic content are designed to create fear among Venezuelans. The bill still needs to be debated and approved on the floor of the assembly.