Defamation Laws In Argentina
Argentina adopted Law 26551 on November 18, 2009 which decriminalizes libel and slander. It amends the countries penal code, eliminating criminal sanctions for libel and slander in cases concerning matters of public interest, and replacing the sanctions with fines.
The Media Libel Case That Helped Force A Change In Argentina’s Defamation Laws
The Law was adopted after a 2008 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) that ordered the Argentine government, in the case of journalist Eduardo Kimel, to adjust its domestic law to prevent the use of these legal concepts to hinder the exercise of freedom of expression.
It was in 1991 when Kimel published a book, La Masacre de San Patricio, which investigated the murder of three priests and two students in Argentina in 1976 during the Junta regime. Kimel concluded in his book that the judge in charge of the case did not properly investigate the suspects because they were members of the armed forces. As a result, Kimel was found to be criminally liable for libel and sentenced to one year in prison and charged a fine. The case was finally heard by the IACHR, which decide: “[o]pinions should not be subject to sanctions, especially when the matter at hand is an opinion about the performance of a public official.”