Freedom of Expression

A. Introduction and Methodology

            1.          This Chapter describes some aspects related to the situation of freedom of expression in the countries of the hemisphere.  Following the tradition of previous reports, it also contains a table that reflects the number of assassinations of journalists in 2003, the circumstances and presumed motives for these assassinations, and where the investigations stand.


            2.          For the purpose of describing the specific situation of each country, the Rapporteurship established a classification of the different methods used to limit the right to freedom of expression and information.  It should be noted that all of these acts are incompatible with the Principles on Freedom of Expression adopted by the IACHR. The classification includes assassinations as well as other types of attacks such as threats, detentions, judicial actions, acts of intimidation, censorship, and legislation contrary to freedom of expression.  In addition, in some cases positive actions that have taken place are included, among them the adoption of laws to ensure access to information, the repeal of desacato laws in one country of the hemisphere, and the existence of legislative proposals or judicial decisions favorable to the full exercise of freedom of expression.


            3.          This Chapter covers information corresponding to 2003.  The Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression receives information from different sources [i] describing the situations related to freedom of expression in the States of the Hemisphere. Once the information is received, and bearing in mind the importance of the matter, it is analyzed and verified.  Afterwards, it is grouped based on the categories indicated above, and the Rapporteurship, for the purposes of this Report, reduces the information to a series of paradigmatic examples that seek to reflect the situation of each country as regards respect for and the exercise of freedom of expression, also indicating the positive actions taken and any regression.  In most cases cited, the sources of the information are cited.  It should be noted that some States are not included because the Rapporteurship received no information about them; their omission should be strictly interpreted in this sense.


            4.          Finally, the Rapporteurship would like to express gratitude for the collaboration of each of the States and of civil society in the Americas, as a whole, for sending information on freedom of expression.  In addition, the Rapporteurship urges these groups to continue and expand such practices in the future, to enrich the future reports.

[i] The Rapporteurship receives information sent by independent human rights organizations and organizations dedicated to upholding and protecting the freedom of expression, independent journalists who are directly affected, and information requested by the Rapporteurship of the representatives of the OAS member States, among others.