Chile: Challenging broadcasting laws to defend community radio

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Chile’s broadcasting laws criminalise broadcasting without a licence. For six years Radio Aukan has been unable to get a broadcasting licence.

Radio Aukan is a vibrant community radio station collective which reports on topics including indigenous rights and the environment.

In 2015 Radio Aukan’s equipment was been seized and Francisco Orellana, a member of staff, was charged by the public prosecutor for broadcasting without a licence. The potential sentence is up to three years in prison and a large fine.

Chile’s broadcasting laws have been heavily criticised by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights as incompatible with international human rights standards. Francisco decided to challenge the legality of restrictive broadcasting laws. He is represented by lawyers Javier Garcia and Gustavo Alfonsi from the non-profit Defensoría Popular, while Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) supported the case with both a legal grant and practical legal support on how to litigate this constitutional challenge.

In the video Francisco, Javier and Gustavo talk about the police raid, the importance of the case, and the promising outcomes of the case so far.

At Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) we work globally to provide legal defence to journalists, broadcasters and bloggers to support an independent, free press. We support individual journalists with financial and technical legal support. We also take on strategic litigation cases, such as Radio Aukan’s case, to help create legal precedent and bring media laws in-line with international standards.

Since 2015, we have supported 20 cases in Latin America in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Many of the cases concern violence and harassment of journalists and bloggers and criminal defamation charges. We also support two media defence centres in Colombia (FLIP) and Honduras (C-Libre), which  provide legal services to journalists and bloggers on a national level.

This is the first of a series MLDI will be doing with the Latin American Bureau to highlight press freedom issues across the region. Visit https://www.mediadefence.org/ to find out more or to apply for support.

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