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Argentina legislators approve bill to decriminalize defamation

[JURIST] Argentina's Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] has passed a bill that would decriminalize defamation, bringing the government's policies more in line with the American Convention on Human Rights [text] and garnering praise [CPJ press release] from international human rights groups. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner [BBC profile] proposed the bill [transcript, in Spanish; JURIST report] in September, but the Senate [official website, in Spanish] must pass the bill before it can become law. The legislation would eliminate prison terms and lessen fines [IPI press release] for libel and slander as part of a broader plan to increase freedom of expression in Argentine telecommunications.

Kirchner's proposal came after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) reversed [opinion, PDF] an Argentine court conviction in the case of journalist Eduardo Kimel, who was charged [WPFC press release] with a fine and jail term after he criticized a judge in 1991. Last month, Kirchner signed into law [JURIST report] a controversial bill giving her government more power to regulate the media, while limiting the power of private media companies.

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