Piensa Prensa Decries Government’s Efforts To Limit Letters of Safe Conduct

The government has asked the Court of Appeal to deny Piensa Prensa’s injunction against limitations on letters of safe conduct which would prevent its teams from being able to work in the field.The independent news platform has over 200,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram. Other journalists call the appeal and underlying limitations an attack on the freedom of the press.

 On May 13, Crime Prevention Deputy Minister Katherine Martorell filed papers asking the Court of Appeal to deny the renewal of independent news outlet Piensa Prensa’s injunction against regulations that deny independent media access to letters of safe conduct and thereby effectively preclude them from operating.

 In the papers, Martorell refers to Piensa Prensa as “not meeting the minimum requirements established by law to fall under a supposed title of social communication,” and that its staff “don’t have any professional or technical title that allows them to be considered journalists, reporters or any other position related to the professional press title …. The truth is that their publications are far from serious and rigorous journalism, which is supposed to have reliable sources and methods that dismiss activism and opinions or subjective assessment.”

Piensa Prensa replied, claiming that the regulations were “discriminatory and a censorship attempt from the Deputy Minister and the Government.”

 TeleSUR correspondent journalist Paola Dragnic tweeted about the matter, saying that “Deputy minister Martorel wants to silence Piensa Prensa, she doesn’t understand that social communication is actually not ‘companies,’ but a society communicating. A lot of news outlets, and even Carabineros go to Piensa Prensa to know what is going on in Chile, because it’s their very citizens that are informing.”

In April of this year, Piensa Prensa obtained an injunction against Martorell and Interior and Public Security Minister, Rodrigo Delgado, claiming that the exclusion of independent media from letters of safe conduct was “illegal and arbitrary.”

The original guidelines established that only people who had a certified degree from a State recognized university and a valid press credential from the National College of Journalists of Chile were able to get permits to leave their homes and do their jobs legally.

The need for a valid credential excluded independent media, such as Piensa Prensa, which emphasized that “a big part of our team and collaborators are field workers, photographers, documentary makers, not journalists. Their job is to take pictures and videos and put them on social media for the community to be informed with us. These terms leave us excluded and prevents the community from accessing the information that our outlet provides.”

Independent News Plays A Critical Role in Chile

The National College of Journalists of Chile reported that this was an attack on the freedom of press, and called on the government to amend the terms, so that they include “every person working in press and communications, including freelance professionals; independent, college, community, alternative and popular media; in order to guarantee the people’s right to information.”

Chile is a country where media concentration is exceptionally high and where the press has been historically censored, which is why independent news outlets, such as Piensa Prensa, have become increasingly more popular among the national population, exercising a right to communication that is not guaranteed by the current Constitution, but that the National College of Journalists and many prominent journalists have been campaigning towards for the upcoming constitutional process.

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