Freedom of Expression

Press Release 64/02


            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 of the daily Correio  Braziliense of Brasilia, Brazil.  According to reports, on October 23 a regional electoral tribunal blocked the publication of journalistic material concerning telephone conversations held by public figures, which had been intercepted under court order.  This prior censorship has taken place in the context of an electoral process, when citizens especially need unrestricted access to information and the full exercise of their freedom of expression in order to make their decisions. 

            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 Brazilian authorities to lift the prior censorship of this communications outlet and also recommends that the state take measures to promote full respect for the freedom of expression of the entire population.  Lastly, he recalls that only the free discussion of ideas and opinions can build a truly participatory and pluralist democracy. 

Eduardo A. Bertoni
Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
Washington, D.C., October 25, 2002