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Argentina: Law Decriminalizing Libel and Slander Passed

(Dec. 7, 2009) Argentina adopted Law 26551 on November 18, 2009 (BOLETIN OFICIAL, Nov. 26, 2009, available at
); it amends the Criminal Code, eliminating the criminal sanctions for libel and slander for cases concerning matters of public interest, replacing the sanctions with fines.

The Law was adopted after a 2008 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) that ordered the Argentine government, in the case of the journalist Eduardo Kimel, to adjust its domestic law to prevent the use of these legal concepts to hinder the exercise of freedom of expression. In 1991, Kimel published a book, La Masacre de San Patricio, which investigated the murder of three priests and two students in Argentina in 1976 during the military junta regime. Kimel concludes in his book that the judge in charge of the case did not properly investigate the suspects because they were members of the armed forces.

Kimel was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine on charges of defamation in a criminal process filed by an Argentine judge. The case was finally heard by the IACHR, which decided that, “[o]pinions should not be subject to sanctions, especially when the matter at hand is an opinion about the performance of a public official.”(Despenalizan el delito de calumnias e injurias, DIARIO LA GACETA, Nov. 20, 2009, available at