Freedom of Expression


Office of the Special Rapporteur of the IACHR presents a Guide to guarantee freedom of expression regarding  deliberate disinformation in electoral contexts

October 18, 2019,

Washington D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in coordination with the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (SSD / DECO), presented on Thursday, October 17, the "Guide to guarantee freedom of expression in the regarding disinformation in electoral contexts". The document was submitted to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The guide, which defines misinformation as "the mass dissemination of false information (a) with the intention of deceiving the public and (b) knowing its falsehood" is divided into three sections, providing a theoretical framework for addressing this phenomenon, as well as a systematization of the inter-American standards of Human Rights that should guide State responses in the matter. Finally, it concludes with a list of recommendations addressed to the different actors involved in the fight against this phenomenon, that is especially worrying in electoral contexts.

"If effective, the phenomenon of disinformation could affect the legitimacy of a process that is fundamental to the functioning and existence of a democratic society," said the Secretary of the Secretariat for Strengthening Democracy, Francisco Guerrero.

 The process of preparing the Guide

In April of this year, the Office of the Special Rapporteur and the Secretariat for the Strengthening of Democracy (SSD) of the OAS, with the support of the National Electoral Institute of Mexico, organized a panel composed of 28 experts from the hemisphere, who exchanged perspectives, reflections, and recommendations on how to address the problem of disinformation and possible responses to it. The panel was formed under the "multiple stakeholders" model, that has been used in different international scenarios to address similar challenges.

"Representativeness in geographical and gender terms was one of the premises for the conformation of the panel of experts," said the Special Rapporteur, Edison Lanza, when listing the participants of the panel, among them: civil society organizations, electoral authorities, experts and independent academics, Internet service provider companies including the main information exchanging platforms (Google, Facebook, and Twitter), fact-checking agencies present in the region, and research centers throughout the hemisphere.

The Guide is freely accessible to all interested and can be downloaded from the page of the Special Rapporteur of the IACHR, in this link: Guide to guarantee freedom of expression regarding deliberate disinformation in electoral contexts.