AMARC calls on the Chilean State to fulfill its agreement to compensate citizens affected by discrimination and to promote community radio broadcasting

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and its national chapter AMARC Chile welcome the settlement agreement promoted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) between the Chilean State and 9 journalists and 6 listeners from Radio Estrella del Mar in Melinka, Region of Aysen, who had their human rights of freedom of expression and access to information violated.

This case dates back to 1999 when the harassment and discrimination began under the mayor of the time, Luis Miranda, who ordered at its discretion, to provide the power supply for the radio only in the afternoon because the editorial line was contrary to his ideas. This was done at the expense of the municipal radio and two national broadcast televisions, which had power to operate all day on the island.

In this regard, Miguel Millar, former director of the affected radio recalled, more than 15 years after the facts, the arbitrary discrimination they suffered as the unequal conditions imposed to the community radio were subject to the discretion of the state authority.

Based on these facts, AMARC and Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), who acted as petitioners, presented the case to the CIDH, which after a long process of more than 10 years, sued the State of Chile to comply with four key points which recognizes the right to freedom of expression and access to information as a prerogative of the various sectors of society, even more for those social actors excluded by geographical and economic conditions to operate a radio frequency legitimately granted by the Undersecretary of Telecommunications of Chile (Subtel), as it happened with Radio Estrella del Mar, in Melinka.

The settlement includes financial measures for those who were affected and non-repetition of these discriminatory actions. Furthermore, the State has to publicize the agreement, promote public broadcasting in the regions of Los Lagos and Aysen, organize a seminar to discuss the scope of the agreement and promote public policies to promote free and inclusive broadcasting.

AMARC hopes that the State and the various institutions involved in this agreement can implement these different agreed points, so as to comply with international standards on freedom of expression and right to communicate, as well as the modification of the Law 20.433 along with the repeal of Article 36 b), point a, criminalizing unlicensed broadcasting.

This decision of the CIDH strengthens the permanent demand of the community radio movement for equal access to communication public goods and of implementation of preferential policies of public interest for territorial and communities that have historically been excluded from the communications platforms.