Freedom of Expression

A. Introduction. Methodology

1.         This Chapter describes certain aspects related to the current state of freedom of expression in the Americas.  It includes, as did previous reports, a table summarizing cases in which journalists were murdered in 2002, the circumstances surrounding their deaths, the possible motives of the killers, and the status of investigations.


2.         To facilitate the description of the specific situation in each country, the Rapporteur classified the various methods used to curtail the right to freedom of expression and information.  All of these methods are incompatible with the Principles on Freedom of Expression adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).  The list includes, in addition to murder, other forms of aggression such as threats, detention, judicial actions, intimidation, censorship, and legislation restricting freedom of expression. The Chapter also includes, for certain countries, positive developments, such as the passing of access to information laws, the abolition of desacato (contempt of authority) in one country of the hemisphere and the existence of bills or judicial decisions conducive to full exercise of freedom of expression.


3.         The data in this Chapter correspond to 2002.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression receives information on freedom of expression-related developments from a number of different sources.[1]  Once the Office has received the information, and bearing in mind the importance of the matter at hand, it begins the verification and analysis process.  Once that task is completed, the information is grouped under the aforementioned headings.  For the purposes of this report, the Rapporteur condenses the information into a series of exemplary paradigms reflecting each country’s situation vis-à-vis respect for, and exercise of, freedom of expression, and it mentions both progress made and any deterioration observed in this field.  In most cases, the sources of the information are cited.  It should be pointed out that the reason that the situation in some countries is not analyzed is that the Office of the Special Rapporteur has not received information; the omission should not be construed in any other way.


4.         Finally, the Rapporteur would, on the one hand, like to thank each of the States and civil society throughout the Americas for their collaboration in forwarding information regarding the current state of freedom of expression.  On the other hand, the Rapporteur would also like to urge States to continue and increase that collaboration in order to enrich future reports.


[1] The Rapporteur receives information from independent organizations working to defend and protect human rights and freedom of expression and from directly concerned independent journalists, as well as information requested by the Office of the Rapporteur from representatives of OAS member states and others.