ⓘ Mauricio Herrera Ulloa

Mauricio Herrera Ulloa

ⓘ Mauricio Herrera Ulloa

Mauricio Alberto Herrera Ulloa is a Costa Rican journalist and the current Costa Rican ambassador to Honduras. Herrera was previously the Minister of Communication under the presidency of Luis Guillermo Solis, the chief editor of the University of Costa Ricas newspaper Semanario Universidad, and the defendant of the landmark case Herrera Ulloa vs. Costa Rica before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.


1. Education

Herrera graduated with a bachelors degree in Collective Communications from the University of Costa Rica in 1992 and a Masters degree in Political Sciences at the same university in 2006. He also earned a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Barcelona in 2001 and was a Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in 2007.


2. Herrera Ulloa vs. Costa Rica

In 1995, Herrera published a series of articles that addressed a corruption scandal surrounding Felix Przedborski, Costa Rica’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Originally published by the Financieel-Economische Tijd, the articles published in La Nacion reported on Przedborskis alleged involvement in political corruption schemes and other criminal activities. In response to the articles, Przedborski filed two criminal complaints and a civil lawsuit for defamation of a public official against Herrera and La Nacion.

After being found innocent in May 1998, in 1999 the Supreme Court of Costa Rica reinstated the criminal defamation charges and ordered a re-trial; Herrera was later found guilty on four counts of criminal defamation. He was ordered to publish a section of the Court’s opinion in La Nacion and to remove the links to the four articles in which Przedborski was mentioned by name. Herrera’s name was added to the Judiciary’s Record of Convicted Felons and he and La Nacion were ordered to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees and US$ 200.000.00 in civil monetary damages to Przedborski. In 2001, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the applicants.

In March 2001, after a complaint was submitted to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the Commission issued a report in October 2002 requesting Costa Rica to nullify the convictions against Herrera and La Nacion. After the government of Costa Rica failed to comply with the measures within the given time-frame, the Commission submitted the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

In support of Herrera, an amicus curiae was submitted by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Due to the violations to Herrera’s right to freedom of expression committed by the government of Costa Rica, the Inter-American Court ordered the following:

The court unanimously declares:

1. That the State violated the right to freedom of thought and expression protected under Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights. to the detriment of Mr. Mauricio Herrera Ulloa

2. That the State violated the right to judicial guarantees. to the detriment of Mr. Mauricio Herrera Ulloa

3. That this Judgment constitutes per se a form of reparation

And unanimously decides that:

4. The State must nullify the November 12, 1999 judgment of the Criminal Court of the First Judicial Circuit of San Jose and all the measures it orders

5. Within a reasonable period of time, the State must adjust its domestic legal system to conform to the provisions of Article 82h of the American Convention on Human Rights

6. The State must pay non-pecuniary damages to Mr. Mauricio Herrera Ulloa in the amount of US$ 20.000.00

7. The State must pay Mr. Mauricio Herrera Ulloa the sum of US$ 10.000.00, to defray the expenses of his legal defense in litigating his case before the inter-American system for the protection of human rights


3. Project Finland and the Alcatel case

El proyecto Finlandia y el caso Alcatel were a series of reports published by Herrera, Giannina Segnini and Ernesto Rivera on illegal payments given by the Finnish medical company Instrumentarium Medko Medical and the French telecommunications company Alcatel to the former President of Costa Rica and former OAS Secretary-General Rafael Angel Calderon, the former President of Costa Rica Miguel Angel Rodriguez, and the former President of Costa Rica and former Managing Director and CEO of the World Economic Forum Jose Maria Figueres, among others.

As a result of both investigations, several high-profile individuals were fined and imprisoned and Alcatel was forced to pay $137 million in criminal fines in the U.S. and an added $10 million to the Costa Rican government as part settlement. Instrumentarium Medko Medical has since been acquired by General Electric Healthcare


4. Awards

  • 1995 - Bartolome Mitre Award, Inter American Press Association
  • 1999 - Henry Dunant Journalism Award First Place, International Committee of the Red Cros, for his report Rehenes de la Guerra Hostages of War
  • 2005 - Ortega y Gasset Award, alongside his colleagues Ernesto Rivera and Giannina Segnini, for their reports El proyecto Finlandia and El caso Alcatel Project Finland and The Alcatel Case
  • 2005 - Best Investigative Journalism Report on Corruption in Latin America and the Caribbean, Transparency International
  • 2005 - Maria Moors Cabot Award Special Citation University of Columbia
  • 2014 - Premio la defensa de la libertad de expresion Jose Maria Castro Madriz, Colegio de Periodistas de Costa Rica

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