The Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión (IPLEX) was founded on June 8, 2005, in Costa Rica. This nonprofit is formed by volunteers, and is dedicated, among other objectives, to:
IPLEX participates in various regional and national networks, such as the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency, Regional Alliance for Free Expression and Information, IFEX/ALC, Forum for Information and Democracy, Coalition for Free Association, and the Voces del Sur network. Additionally, in recent years, IPLEX has supported Nicaraguan journalists and media outlets who have come to Costa Rica seeking refuge and support.
President of IPLEX since 2019, he served as President of the Colegio de Periodistas y Profesionales en Ciencias de la Comunicación Colectiva of Costa Rica from 2002-04 and 2009-11. He is Deputy Director of the Department of Public Relations, Press, and Protocol for the Legislative Assembly. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Collective Communication Sciences from the Universidad de Costa Rica and a master’s degree in Educational Technology with a certificate in Instructional Media Production from the Universidad Estatal a Distancia. He is a founding member of IPLEX.
In promoting its core objectives, IPLEX works on various issues and has carried out several projects. In 2006, IPLEX promoted legislative reform on freedom of expression in Costa Rica and collaborated with a Latin American investigation into “subtle censorship” (indirect pressure on media and journalists), in coordination with Argentina’s Asociación pro-Derechos Civiles.
With the support of UNESCO, IPLEX carried out a diagnosis and training in 2007 on the problems of freedom of expression affecting journalists from local and rural media in Costa Rican provinces. It published the book Acceso a la Información Pública en Costa Rica, by Lic. Jorge Córdoba in 2008, detailing the state of the right access to information in this country.
In 2019, with the support of the Open Society Foundations, IPLEX carried out the initiative “Apoyo a periodistas en situación de riesgo,” to provide a temporary reprieve for journalists from Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean who have been persecuted or threatened in their respective countries due to their work.
Two initiatives were started in 2021. First, the “VAL” project supported by the Lee Hills Chair in Freedom of Expression at the University of Missouri, carried out from October 2021 to January 2022. The project sought to improve the technological skills and legal knowledge of Central American journalists who have taken up residence in Costa Rica. The second project, “Apoyo a personas, periodistas refugiadas o solicitantes de refugio,” supported by IFEX, provided financial support for Central American journalists, refugees, and asylum-seekers to cover their basic needs while integrating into Costa Rican society.
In 2022, with support from IFEX, IPLEX launched a new website as an academic database on issues of freedoms of expression, the press, and access to public information. At the same time, the “April 18” project, supported by the Lee Hills Chair in Freedom of Expression of the University of Missouri, provided financial support for Central American journalists, refugees, and asylum-seekers to cover their basic needs and generated a basic newsletter.
In coordination with the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), we also began documenting abuses of journalists’ and communicators’ freedom of expression in Costa Rica and disseminating alerts, which included the report “Monitoreo de las vulneraciones contra la libertad de prensa en Costa Rica en el año 2022.”
The main problem facing the Costa Rican press is the executive branch’s attitude toward journalists and critical press. Stigmatizing verbal attacks and actions are hindering the public’s access to information.
This prompts us to be vigilant, denounce these actions and appeal to independent judicial bodies, especially the Constitutional Court.
At the same time, it is necessary to educate the Costa Rican people on the defense of democracy, separation of powers, and the importance of a free and independent press.
The world faces dictatorships without any freedom. Pseudo-democracies with limitations and actions against journalism. Strong democracies but with harsh presidential figures, as is the case today in Costa Rica. These complex circumstances worry both democrats and defenders of human rights.
Only unity, coordination, information-sharing, and training allow us to face these old and new attacks on freedoms.
If officials refuse a request for information, citizens can appeal to the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica, which has helped guarantee this right. However, we must push for more training of public officials.
I believe that Costa Rica and its press have been great collaborators, like those in other countries, when journalists resort to the Constitutional Chamber or the Inter-American Human Rights System in defense of their rights and the freedoms of the press and expression. Recently, the Constitutional Chamber voted in defense of the opening of the Parque Viva events center by the Nación group (a media conglomerate), where journalists demonstrated the executive branch’s persecution against this events center as indirect censorship against said newspaper. Various cases have also appeared before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights presented by journalists who have been leading the way: such as, Moya Chacón et al. v. Costa Rica and Herrera Ulloa v. Costa Rica. The unity of communicators and organizations in these struggles is important.
I think that, for now, we must continue to document abuses of journalists’ and communicators’ freedom of expression in Costa Rica and disseminate alerts.
Published on June 26, 2023.