Press Release

IACHR makes its choice of Edison Lanza as Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

July 23, 2014

Washington, D.C. – In exercise of its autonomy and independence, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made its choice today of Edison Lanza for the post of Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. The Commission sent the name of the selected person to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), who has expressed his agreement with the appointment. In the terms of Article 15 of its Rules of Procedure, Edison Lanza will be appointed for a three-year period, renewable once, and will take office on October 6, 2014.

The Inter-American Commission made its decision based on the professional qualities and experience of the candidate, taking into special consideration his technical expertise, leadership, and ability to work effectively with States, civil society organizations, and all other actors of the Inter-American System of Human Rights. In addition, the Commission took into account the wide support that his candidacy received during the consultation process, expressed by civil society organizations of numerous countries in the region.

Edison Lanza is a Uruguayan lawyer and journalist. He has been a reporter in several media outlets, consultant for international organizations on issues of freedom of expression and right to information, counsel for the Uruguayan journalists’ union, and a university professor. In addition, he has filed several emblematic cases related to the right to freedom of expression in the Inter-American Human Rights System; he has been a member, directed and founded several non-governmental organizations for the defense of the right to freedom of expression, and he is a member of several national bodies to monitor compliance of standards related to freedom of expression and access to public information. He has written and promoted several bills at the national and regional level and is author of numerous publications specialized in the subject. He graduated as a lawyer and took graduate studies on freedom of expression and criminal law at the Universidad de la República of Uruguay, and he is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires on studies linked to the regulatory processes of audiovisual media in the region.

Edison Lanza is co-founder and president of the Center for Archives and Access to Public Information, co-founder of the Media and Society Group, member of the Committee on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in the Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information, and Member of the Working Group on the Inter-American System of Human Rights and the OAS of the IFEX-ALC alliance in defense of freedom of expression. He has been a consultant for several organizations, including the United Nations Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression, the World Bank, the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO), and the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC). He was hired by the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador to develop a bill that guarantees the exercise of the right of reply and correction, was a member of the expert group convened by the Department of International Law of the OAS in the process of building the Template Inter-American Law on Access to Public Information, was appointed by Uruguay’s Executive branch as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee that drafted the basis of the bill of Audiovisual Communication Services, was a representative of civil society in the Technical Advisory Committee which prepared the basis for the regulation on the Rights of Children and Adolescents , Freedom of Expression and Media, and was a member of the Working Group that developed an initiative to amend the offenses of contempt and slander in Uruguayan legislation, approved in 2008.

The selection of Edison Lanza was the result of a comprehensive, open, transparent and participatory process. The call for resumés for the post was published on December 19, 2013. The Commission thanks and values the interest of the 49 persons who presented their candidacies for the post. During the 150th Period of Sessions, held at the headquarters from March 20 to April 4, 2014, the Commission selected six finalists and published their resumés on its Website. In accordance with Article 15.4 of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, the Commission opened a period of time to receive comments from the OAS Member States and civil society on the finalist candidates, from May 1 to 31, 2014. During this period, the IACHR received 154 letters with comments from OAS Member States and from civil society. The letters received came from three international organizations, ten from regional organizations, 51 from Guatemala, 20 from Uruguay, 16 from Peru, 15 from Ecuador, 13 from Argentina, 5 from Chile, 5 from Mexico, 4 from the United States, 2 from El Salvador, 2 from Bolivia, 2 from Switzerland, and one from each of these countries: Venezuela, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia and Spain.

The plenary of the Commission interviewed the six finalists on July 22, during the 151th Period of Sessions, which takes place at headquarters in Washington, D.C., July 14 to 25, 2014. The IACHR recognizes the excellent professional capacity of all the finalists, which was once again demonstrated in the high quality of the interviews. The Commission thanks them for their participation in this process.

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero, will continue her work until October 6, 2014, the end date of her second 3-year-mandate. The Commission wishes to recognize the work that Catalina Botero has done and continues to do in the defense and protection of the right to freedom of expression and her contribution to the progress made in the region through her effective leadership.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 77/14