Leyes necias

PARÍS – “Si las leyes suponen eso”, dice el Sr. Bumble en Oliver Twist, “las leyes son estúpidas –son idioteces.” Durante décadas, las leyes de difamación y calumnia de Gran Bretaña no han estado a la altura de las expectativas del Sr. Bumble. Sin embargo, la libertad de expresión en todo el mundo recibió un impulso –y la reputación británica por su sentido común de alguna manera se restableció –en abril luego de que el Parlamento aprobara una ley que examina las leyes de difamación y calumnia del país.

Anteriormente, las corporaciones e individuos en todo el mundo que decían haber sido objeto de difamación –incluso si los demandantes o aquellos que supuestamente los difamaron tenían muy poca relación o ninguna con Reino Unido– emprendían juicios por difamación en los tribunales británicos. La práctica se le conocía generalmente como “turismo de difamación”.

Muchos demandantes que emprendían dichos juicios –oligarcas rusos o ucranios, príncipes árabes, dictadores africanos y jefes sin escrúpulos– tenían poca probabilidad de ganar. Pero ese no era el objetivo. A menudo, los demandados tenían muchos menos recursos, lo que significaba que un juicio por difamación en el que ambas partes tenían que gastar grandes sumas de dinero podía ser eficaz para callar a los críticos aun sin ganar el juicio. En Reino Unido, la ley significaba que muchos asuntos importantes no se podían debatir cabalmente.

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