Freedom of Expression

Government Advertising

“Other Forms of Censorship,” presentation of Don Podesta, Consultant and former Editor of The Washington Post

Special Session of the Permanent Council of the OAS regarding the Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression and the Importance of Communications Media.

Date: April 23, 2009

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Principles on the Regulation of Government Advertising and Freedom of Expression (2012)Principles on the Regulation of Government Advertising and Freedom of Expression (2012)
This publication seeks to carry out a systematic analysis of Inter-American rulings on freedom of expression, particularly of the orders for reparation issued as of October 2011 in cases which have involved violations or illegitimate restrictions of the freedom established in Article 13 of the Convention.

In addition to traditional restrictions to freedom of expression, such as previous censorship or criminal persecution of dissident or critical groups, there are many more subtle, and sometime more effective, indirect ways to restrict freedom of expression. Because these indirect violations are often dark obstructions, silently imposed, they do not lead to investigations nor do they deserve widespread censure, as with other more direct violations. This report, prepared in 2003, analyzed for the first time in the Inter-American area, the use of government advertising as an indirect restriction of the free movement of ideas.
13. The exercise of power and the use of public funds by the state, the granting of customs duty privileges, the arbitrary and discriminatory placement of official advertising and government loans; the concession of radio and television broadcast frequencies, among others, with the intent to put pressure on and punish or reward and provide privileges to social communicators and communications media because of the opinions they express threaten freedom of expression, and must be explicitly prohibited by law. The means of communication have the right to carry out their role in an independent manner. Direct or indirect pressures exerted upon journalists or other social communicators to stifle the dissemination of information are incompatible with freedom of expression.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur issues joint declarations with the other rapporteurships for freedom of expression, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Representative on Freedom of the Media from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Rapporteur for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.