A translation of the proposed “Special Bill Against Media Crimes” (CDM)

August 1, 2009

(Este post en español aquí) (French translation here)

This is a liberal translation of the proposed “Special Bill against Media Crimes”

Art. 1 It is the object of this Bill to prevent and sanction the actions or omissions displayed through the media that may constitute a crime: this with the purpose of obtaining the equilibrium and the harmony among the right of free expression and to opportune, true and impartial information and the right to internal security of the citizens, according to what is contained in the Venezuelan Constitution, its laws and treaties and agreements.

Art. 2 The concept of Media. For the purposes of this Bill media is understood as any media outlet capable of transmitting, divulging or propagating, in stable and periodic fashion, texts, sounds or images destined to the public, whatever the support or instrument used.

Art. 3 The following people may incur in the crimes contemplated of the present Bill

A. The owners and any other person who has a an executive position in media, be it print, television, radio, whether public or private.

B. Independent National Producers, reporters, commentators, speakers, artists and any other person that expresses himself or herself via any media, whether print, television, radio or of any other nature.

Art. 4 Definition of media crimes. Media crimes are made up of the actions and omissions that affect the right for true, opportune and impartial information, which attempt against social peace, the security or independence of the State, the public’s mental health or morals, that generate the feeling of impunity or insecurity and that are made via the media.

Art. 5 Divulging false news. Any person that divulges through the media false news which cause a grave alteration of public peace, panic in the population, or induce anxiety, which has altered public order, that has caused damage to the interests of the State, will be punsihed with prison from two to four years.

The same penalty will be applied to the person in charge of the media through which it was expressed.

Art. 6 Manipulation of the News. Any person that manipulates or distorts the news, generating a false perecption of the facts or creating a matrix of opinion in society, only if this damages social peace, national security, public order, mental health or public morals, will be punished with a prison term from two to four years.

The same penalty will be applied to the person in charge of the media through which it was expressed.

Art. 7. Refusing to reveal information. The Director, manager, editor or person responsible for the media that refuses to reveal the identity of the author of the program or print article published under a pseudonym or in anonymous fashion, when the Prosecutors Office has requested it, will be punished with a prison term of six months to two years.

Art. 8 The owners, Directors or those responsible of media outlets that use them to threaten intimidate, coerce or in any way create fear in others, will be punished with a prison term from one to three years.

Art. 9. Voluntary omission of providing information. The owners or those responsible for media outlets that in a voluntary or unjustified way refuse to inform over facts or situations who by withdrawing the information attempt against the right to information consecrated in the Venezuelan Constitution will be sanctioned with a prison term from two to four years.

Art. 10 Instigation. Anyone who by any media outlet, publishes or transmits material with the purpose of promoting war, violence, or the hate between inhabitants or collectives, by reason of race, sex, religion. nationality, ideology or political militancy will be sanctioned with a prison term from two to four years.

The same penalty will be applied to the person in charge of the media through which it was expressed.

Art. 11 Creating obstacles for the activities of the media. Any person that difficults, or blocks, by coercion, violence, threat, deceit or bribe, the free functioning of any media outlet, whether public or private, affecting the right to true, opportune and impartial information which all citizens have, will be punished with a prison term from one to three years.

Art. 12 Exemption from Responsibility. Those responsible for media outlets will not commit any of the crimes contemplated above for comments made by those people that accidentally participate in live transmissions which include public participation, as long as those making the statements are warned that they could be in violation of the laws.

Those responsible for media outlets will also be exempt from the law with respect to the opinions issued by Deputies of the National Assembly acting as such according to the Venezuelan Constitution.

Art. 13 If a person responsible for a media outlet is condemned through a firm sentence for committing a media crime, he or she will be suspended during the duration of the prison term and will be barred to have an executive position in a different media outlet.

If it were an independent national producer as an additional sanction, his certificate as such will be revoked.

Art. 14 The judge will order that the firm sentence, in a case related to a media crime be published once, paid by the person sentenced, in a preferential location in the Editorial page of a print medium or broadcast at prime time in the media outlet in which the crime was committed, within sevne days after the sentencing. This publication will be made without comments, notes  or any other type of expression.

There are two other transient or technical articles in the proposed Bill.

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12 Responses to “A translation of the proposed “Special Bill Against Media Crimes” (CDM)”


  1. […] (sic!) einleiten soll. Der Text des Entwurfs ist einsehbar: hier im Original, auf englisch oder auf […]


  2. […] in reality nothing more than thought crimes. According to this bill (unofficial translation here), journalists and media owners could be prosecuted easily on criteria determined by the government, […]


  3. […] Read also: Silencing the media anywhere should matter everywhere. Chávez’s Venezuela: Land of… Drug Cartels, Corruption and Socialism? A Translation (to English) of the Proposed “Special Bill Against Media Crimes”. […]


  4. […] This post was Twitted by anibal […]

  5. Dana Says:

    “What we need, and we don’t have, is a strong opposition figure that canalizes that anti-Chávez sentiment. No dictator has been removed in recent history without that someone that represents the revulsion against submission.”

    Well said Bruni

  6. bruni Says:

    Robert,

    as long as there is no state police coming during the night and “disappearing” dissenting people, the guy will be untouchable…so far he has resisted the temptation to create/order such a police, but he also had resisted the temptation to censure upfront the press and you see, the time has come for him to censure if he wants to stay in power.

    What is important is that Chávez is little by little showing his true dictatorial face to the world.

    What we need, and we don’t have, is a strong opposition figure that canalizes that anti-Chávez sentiment. No dictator has been removed in recent history without that someone that represents the revulsion against submission.

  7. Robert Says:

    Is Chavez putting sedatives in the drinking water? How does it go so far and no major outrage? Sure, there’s a few protesters on the street in Venezuela and Fox bashing the media law/radio station closure, but when does Fox make a difference? Like never!

    Weapons and money for FARC, closing media, media laws, furthering price controls……..is this guy untouchable?

  8. Avila Says:

    Miguel,

    This certainly sounds like the sweeping law that could stifle ALL dissent–both in traditional media and the new media such as your blog. Old Veno Hands have noted for some time that the media has largely self censured itself for some time, fearly ful of economic repisals like a visit from Senitat or revocation of their liscences.

    When all else is said and done, Chavez has been truly masterful at a slow erosion of personal freedoms and constitutional checks and balances. It reminds me of the story of the frog in a pot of water, slowly heating up. The frog cannot register the changes in temperature and slowly boils to death.

    34 radio stations get shut down and narry a peep outside of venezuela and certainly not a protest–and it should be massive. But they protested the closing of RCTV…and this probably cost Chavez his referendum (as opposed to the lack of jobs, rampant crime and corruption.

  9. Robert Says:

    Here’s an interesting article in BBC about the Vene gov promoting reading by giving away Karl Marx books, and to be fair other less radical thoughts. It notes that currency controls make it difficult for private importation of books but the government can promote “reading” by giving away books. So when you look at media control, don’t forget literature.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8113388.stm

  10. Otro Roberto Says:

    It is hard to pick a specific article. All of them are so easy to criticize and, I believe, to demolish based on the simple concepts of democracy and freedom of speech. In any case, I decide on Art 11:

    “Art. 11 Creating obstacles for the activities of the media. Any person that difficults, or blocks, by coercion, violence, threat, deceit or bribe, the free functioning of any media outlet, whether public or private, affecting the right to true, opportune and impartial information which all citizens have, will be punished with a prison term from one to three years.”

    Does that means that if the government blocks the access of Globovisión’s reporters to government’s events, Globovisión can initiate a legal procedure against the government or, at least, against some of its representatives?

    Does that means that when Chávez threatens to do something against the media or against the people working in some media, is it possible to start a legal procedure against Chávez and, even more, send him to jail from one to three years? Yeehz, I am sure that a lot of people will love to do that…

    Even if the answers to these questions were to be affirmative, our Supreme Court and its far-from-independent judges will surely block any initiative in this direction. Given the true intention of this, at least it would be more sincere to put as first article that this law will apply only to those that are deemed by Chávez by opposition.

    I wonder what Insulza has to say about this…

  11. Ken Price Says:

    This proposed “law” is straight out of 1984 (Orwell). At the very least, Venezuela should be suspended from all Press associations, and Venezuelan “reporters” should lose their press credentials in all free countries. Adolf Hitler would be proud of Chavez!


  12. […] La Nueva Ley Especial Contra Delitos Mediaticos Agosto 2, 2009 (This post in English here) […]


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