Freedom of Expression

Press Release 87/03


The Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Dr. Eduardo Bertoni, has expressed serious concern over recent instances of prior censorship against the television news magazine "Enigma" of National Television (TVN) in Chile .  According to information received, on July 23, 2003 , the Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals of Santiago prevented the broadcast of the first episode of the program "Enigma" by means of an order to maintain the status quo (orden de no innovar).  The censored program concerned the assassination of lawyer Patricio Torres Reyes.  Members of the Torres Reyes family filed a protection remedy ( recurso de protección) against the media, considering that the broadcast of the program would affect their honor and privacy.  The order to maintain the status quo will have the effect of preventing the broadcast of the program until the Court resolves the issue of the protection remedy. 

Prior censorship is explicitly prohibited under Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.  In addition, Principle 5 of the Inter-American Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states, in part: "Prior censorship, direct or indirect interference in or pressure exerted upon any expression, opinion or information transmitted through any means of oral, written, artistic, visual or electronic communication must be prohibited by law."

The IACHR Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Eduardo Bertoni, requests the Chilean authorities to end the censorship of this program.  "At the end of my visit to Chile in December 2002, I expressed my concern regarding certain judicial decisions that harmed freedom of expression in that country.  The decision of the 5th Division renews my concern, since only the free exchange of ideas and opinions can build a truly participatory and pluralist democracy."   

Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
July 29, 2003
Washington , D.C.