Libertad de Expresión

7 - Chapter VI - Final Considerations and Recommendations


1.                  In the Hemisphere there is a broad gamut of violations of the right to freedom of expression. These violations run from a state of near total censorship, as is the case in Cuba, to simple administrative or bureaucratic barriers to the search for information.


2.                  The Rapporteur’s primary concern is the assassination of journalists, because it mocks the value of human life and causes a chilling effect on speech throughout society. The Special Rapporteur recommends that the member States undertake a serious, impartial and effective investigation of assassinations, kidnappings, threats, and harassment of journalists, and prosecute and punish all those responsible.


3.                  Aside from the seriousness of the assassinations of journalists, the main obstacle to the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression is the use of legislation by authorities to silence critics. It is essential to amend these laws in some cases and to include in others norms that will guarantee the right of freedom of expression. The law, and respect for the law, as well as freedom of expression, are the cornerstones of a democratic society. Weaknesses in both areas, which exist in some states in the hemisphere, constitute a constant threat to democratic stability in the hemisphere.


4.                  The Special Rapporteur recommends that the member States modify their domestic legislation to conform with the parameters established in the American Convention on Human Rights, and comply fully with the provisions of Article IV of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur recommends to the Member States that their internal legislation and practices be guided by the set of standards set forth in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.


5.                  The Special Rapporteur recommends that the member states abrogate the desacato laws because they restrict public debate, which is an essential element of the democratic process, and they contravene the American Convention on Human Rights.


6.                  Moreover, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States include in their legislation the dual protection system, which differentiates levels of legal protection between public and private figures and uses the actual malice doctrine as the standard for defamation law suits against the press, as well as the decriminalization of libel and slander laws.


7.                  The Special Rapporteur recommends that the member States guarantee access to information and habeas data, both de jure and de facto, for all citizens, because both elements are essential for freedom of expression and the democratic system.


8.                  The Rapporteur also recommends the elimination of any requirement that could imply prior censorship of freedom of information, such as the demand to prove the truth of the news.


9.                  The Rapporteur wishes to thank the various States that cooperated with the Office of the Special Rapporteur during this year, and also the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its Executive Secretariat for their constant support.


10.       Finally, the Special Rapporteur wishes to thank all those independent journalists who day after day carry out the most indispensable duties in a democratic society, by informing the citizens so that they can exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations on the basis of the information that they need.