Freedom of Expression

Press Release R69/20


Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR presents its 2019 Annual Report

April 7th 2020


Washington, D.C. - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents its Annual Report on the situation of freedom of expression in the hemisphere during 2019, which is part of the Annual Report presented by the Inter-American Commission to the OAS Member States.

In this new annual report, the Special Rapporteur’s Office draws attention to the context of stigmatization of senior authorities against the press, the persistence of forms of threats, physical violence and murders against communicators and the limited progress made in combating impunity for these crimes. It also shows a worrying trend of coordinated persecution of journalists and opponents on social networks, with the aim of intimidating those whom governments or their followers pursue as "enemies" or "opposition press"; women journalists have been especially attacked on the basis of stereotypes in the Americas during the year under review.

While the above seems to be a generalized picture, in those countries that show deviations from the rule of law and democratic standards such as Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, there were episodes of censorship and blockades of media on the Internet and the criminalization of journalists and opponents, with several arbitrary arrests mainly in the first two countries mentioned.

The report also addresses the repression and criminalization of the protests that occurred during 2019 in various states of the continent, which in many cases resulted in demonstrators being killed by the disproportionate and widespread use of force by state security forces. At the same time, in the context of protests, there was a wide and lax use of criminal law, with the aim of criminalizing protest activities.

In the annual report 2019, this Office also highlights progress in several countries with regard to the actions of the judicial branch in resolving unfounded complaints against journalists and reversing censorship or concealment of information by the other branches of government. The report contains an extensive analysis of the situation of freedom of expression in each country of the region and makes observations and recommendations to overcome structural problems. It also includes the new thematic contributions of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression on deliberate disinformation, protest and human rights; and the final report of the Special Monitoring Team (ESE) appointed by the IACHR. As well as important decisions by the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that resolved important individual cases involving the right to freedom of expression.

We thank the States, civil society organizations and the media for the permanent support and information offered throughout the production process of this report.

This is the twentieth second report produced by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, since it was created in 1997.

·       To read the executive summary, click here.

·       To access the full Annual Report, click here.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.