SU-355 involved a journalist claiming in a YouTube video that “Kika Nieto hates gays even if she says otherwise.” The case distinguished between the subjective opinions of free speech and the requirement of news reporting to be based on objective verifiable facts.
Guevara said that although the ruling is “final” for this specific case, “regarding the rights that we sought to protect, both those of the plaintiff and Kika’s, there is no position of the Court on the underlying issues that closes the debate definitively.”
“Therefore, if a similar case is presented, this judgment does not set a precedent for how to resolve it, except in procedural matters … it would have been appropriate to have a precedent that would give clear and bolstered protection to free speech when court rulings are issued based on religious beliefs,” he said.
Guevara explained that the court “resolved the case by focusing on procedural matters. It considered that the requirements of immediacy and subsidiarity of the legal action weren’t met, since the plaintiff didn’t first resort to (other avenues) and filed long after the events took place.”
He continued: “Therefore, it was decided to declare the petition for protection inadmissible, which has a positive effect, since the lower court ruling that violated Kika's rights was overturned, but the court made no pronouncement on the content of those rights.”
In that regard, the lawyer for Nueva Democracia stated that this shouldn’t be considered a victory for free speech and freedom of religion.
“Although Kika can repost her video because the ruling that unjustifiably censored her was overturned, the truth is that this is due to procedural reasons. There is no decision here that allows us to affirm that the Court ruled in favor of freedom of religion and free speech,” he reiterated.
Guevara criticized the Constitutional Court for not giving Nieto’s case "the importance it deserved.”
"We were dealing with a case that obviously violated free speech, religious freedom and there was a Court precedent (SU-355 of 2019) and none of that was taken into account," he added.
Tomás Henríquez, ADF International Area Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, declared that "if we value a free society, protecting the right to speak freely is paramount."
“We welcome with satisfaction the Court's decision to overturn the ruling censoring Kika Nieto. However, we regret that the underlying issue of censorship wasn’t addressed and affirm the right of everyone to speak freely. We must always choose debate over censorship,” he said.
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“Ultimately, people and democracy suffer when voices are silenced,” he added.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.