El Salvador’s government has proposed a new bill which says the press should self-regulate to produce “non-violent” content and promote peace.
It is part of wider strategy to reduce the country’s murder rate, one of the world’s highest according to the UN.
Critics accuse the state of trying to censor the press.
But the security minister has justified the bill, saying the measures would be introduced to protect the population’s mental health.
The media clause is part of the proposed Law on the National System for the Prevention of Violence.
It was presented in Congress on Tuesday.
It says the press “should contribute to the promotion of the prevention of violence, tolerance and the culture of peace (…) by seeking the ethical self-regulation of information and non-violent content”.
Most of the violence is caused by criminal gangs, known locally as maras.
The bill “does not contain any sanctions to the media of communication, and only talks of self-regulation”, said Justice and Security Minister Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde.
Opposition politician Patricia Valdivieso tweeted on Wednesday: “If it’s self-regulation, it does not have to be included in the law. Let’s not open doors to media regulation, because that’s where they hide gags for the press.”
Media bosses will be consulted, says the government.