State secret law revised to create decreed secret

A new draft of a censorship law leaves deciding the public interest up to judges.

Casa Presidencial said Monday that it had received the agreement of media executives for a change in the so-called law of information crimes. This was the law that was passed with a clause that prohibited the publication of state secrets. Now a revision defines state secrets to be those facts that are decreed to be secrets.

A crime only takes place when there exists damage to the intimacy or privacy of a person when there is no public interest, said a statement by Casa Presidencial. Such a definition will have to be resolved on a case-by-case basis in court.

Carlos Ricardo Benavides, the minister of the Presidencia, said that there had not been a conviction of an informational crime under the previous law for 50 years.

The law was one of those where no one was paying attention to the text when it was passed. Once the content became known, news organizations raised a fuss, and the executive branch quickly promised to make changes.

News people pointed out that a number of recent corruption cases could have been kept from the public with the state secret clause.

Now the change is up to the legislature, which received the revisions Monday.

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