Freedom of Expression

Press Release 67/02


The three defenders and promoters of freedom of expression met in London on December 9 and 10 in the context of the international seminar "International Mechanisms for Promoting Freedom of Expression," organized by ARTICLE 19, a non-governmental organization based in London.  At the conclusion of the meeting, Ambeyi Ligabo, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression (UN); Freimut Duve, Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); and Eduardo Bertoni, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States (OAS), issued a joint statement. 

The three rapporteurs analyzed the main problems facing the freedom of expression in several countries and stated their concern over “attacks on journalists, including assassinations and threats, as well as the climate of impunity that still exists in many countries.”  The declaration recognizes “the important corrective function played by the media in exposing political and economic corruption and other wrongdoing.” Furthermore, they stated that governments and public bodies should not abuse their control over public finances to try to influence the content of media reporting through the placement of public advertising.  The declaration signed in London also expresses that “all criminal defamation laws should be abolished and replaced, where necessary, with appropriate civil defamation laws.”  

Further, the statement welcomes the establishment of the International Criminal Court and refers to the threat posed by the increasing concentration of ownership of the media and to the need for specialized mechanisms to promote freedom of expression in every region of the world.  

Eduardo A. Bertoni 
Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression 
Washington, D.C. 
December 20, 2002

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