IN A FRUSTRATING YEAR FOR PRESS FREEDOM in Argentina, a proposed bill that would have eliminated criminal penalties for defamation cases involving public officials foundered after local journalists implicated members of the Senate in a major bribery scandal. Senators who had supported the proposed bill quickly withdrew their support.
The long battle to reform Argentina's onerous press laws began in 1992, when then-president Carlos Menem filed criminal charges against investigative reporter Horacio Verbitsky for desacato
, or disrespect. Verbitsky appealed his prosecution to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which ruled in his favor. Under the settlement terms, the Argentine government agreed to repeal its desacato
law, which it did in 1993.