Miami, January 20, 2021 – Argentine authorities should drop their criminal complaint against journalist Roberto Carrigall and allow him to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On January 13, the municipality of Quilmes, a city in the province of Buenos Aires, filed a criminal complaint with a federal court over Carrigall’s reporting on the alleged mismanagement of the coronavirus vaccine by the municipal government, according to reports, the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via a messaging app and a report from the Argentinian Journalism Forum, a local free expression organization.
Carrigall told CPJ he works as a reporter and presenter for radio station Del Bosque, where he primarily covers local politics, and also posts his reports on his personal Facebook account.
On January 8, Carrigall alleged in a Facebook post that a city government-run hospital in Quilmes improperly refrigerated 40 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, damaging them as well.
In its criminal complaint, the Quilmes government argued that the message violated Article 205 of the Criminal Code, which requires compliance with government disease control measures, and Article 211, which concerns incitement and intimidation, according to the penal code and the forum statement. . The lawsuit was filed in federal court, but federal authorities have neither laid any formal charges nor served Carrigall with a lawsuit, he told CPJ.
If charged and convicted under these articles, Carrigall faces up to six years in prison, according to the penal code.
“Argentina’s municipal authorities should not be tasked with threatening journalists with jail time for their reporting,” said Natalie Southwick, CPJ’s program coordinator for South and Central America in New York. âThe municipality of Quilmes should drop its criminal complaint against journalist Roberto Carrigall and refrain from filing such complaints in the future. “
In his January 8 Facebook post, which was reposted by the local news site Realpolitik, Carrigall said he tried to contact the Quilmes Health Secretariat for comment before posting, but had not received a response.
CPJ sent a message to the official Twitter of the Municipality of Quilmes Account for comment, but received no response. After Carrigall posted his report on Facebook, city officials denied mismanaging the vaccine doses, according to news reports.