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At OAS, a victory for human rights and free expression

Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patiño speaks about human rights during the Organization of American States general assembly in Washington, D.C., on March 22. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

By reaffirming the autonomy and independence of the regional human rights system and rejecting attempts to neutralize the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression, the Organization of American States (OAS) chose last week to discard proposals that would have made citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to abuses.

The OAS extraordinary assembly, held at the organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Friday, adopted a resolution by which the 35 member states ratified the ability of the commission to continue receiving voluntary contributions. Analysts and human rights advocates say the decision was a blow to countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, known as ALBA, which have been pushing to preclude outside funding for the IACHR.

March 26, 2013 5:08 PM ET

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CPJ urges OAS not to weaken human rights system

Dear OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs: Ahead of the assembly of the Organization of American States on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges you to oppose any attempts to debilitate the regional human rights system. The failure of member states to preserve the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its special rapporteur on freedom of expression would make citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to human rights violations and represent a blow to democracy in the Americas.

March 18, 2013 12:40 PM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Chile, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Abolishing Censorship

Police in Santiago seize a photographer during an anti-government demonstration. (Reuters/Carlos Vera)

Even as trade and new systems of communication turn us into global citizens, the information we need to ensure accountability often stops at national borders. New platforms like social media are valuable tools, but the battle against censorship is hardly over. By Joel Simon

Blog   |   Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Internet, Mexico, Venezuela

Online freedom of expression in Latin America

On his blog, El Oso, David Sasaki has just finished up the third and last part in his series, "Internet Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Latin America." It's a brilliant overview of current political and social pressures on free speech and online reporting in the region.

Some key observations:

  • Direct governmental censorship in Latin America remains largely non-existent. Even occasional "murky," anecdotal evidence is mostly confined to Cuba and perhaps Venezuela. Sasaki does a great job of collating what's been rumored so far. The OpenNet Initiative has said it will shortly publish updated research.

  • Litigation over content is the most widespread threat to free expression online across the region. As CPJ has reported for many years, criminal defamation laws and overbroad judicial decisions affect independent journalism in many Latin American countries. The large numbers of ongoing cases against individual Net users and their hosting services show that this risk has not diminished online.

  • Brazil and Chile are leading the way in attempts to create Internet-era regulation, with broad participation. Other countries could learn a lot from watching how this new body of law develops, despite occasional missteps (or perhaps because of them).

The above will not surprise close watchers of the Latin American Internet, and it certainly fits with CPJ's own observations there. The real meat of this article, though, lies in the examples. From decades old videos of famous censored Argentine satire to a brief glimpse of the world of Mexican botnets (a collection of hijacked computers used remotely by criminals), it's a compelling and informative read. Check out part one, an overview of the idea of Internet regulation; part two, a survey of intermediary liability cases in the region; and part three, which offers a closer look at direct Net censorship in Latin America, as well as brief glances at Net neutrality, privacy and cybercrime.

November 2, 2010 3:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica

Latin America takes steps against criminal defamation

(Elpais.com.co)

In an encouraging development, three courts in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Chile have recently followed the growing regional consensus against criminal defamation by dismissing criminal penalties against journalists accused of libel and slander.

The newsweekly magazine Semana reported that a piece written by Alfredo Molano, at left, in the op-ed pages of the Bogota-based daily El Espectador in February 2007 described how the members of a family in Cartagena and Valledupar had undue influence in private businesses and public offices in the country’s Caribbean region.

Alerts   |   Chile

Supreme Court upholds defamation decision

New York, October 31, 2008--The Chilean Supreme Court found journalist Víctor Gutiérrez guilty of criminal defamation on October 28, and sentenced him to a suspended prison sentence. 

October 31, 2008 7:13 PM ET

Alerts   |   Chile

Chilean police officer strikes photographer

New York, May 23, 2008—Chilean photographer Víctor Salas suffered a serious eye injury on Wednesday when he was struck by a police officer as he was covering a protest outside parliament in the southwestern city of Valparaíso. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the assault and called on Chilean authorities to hold the officer accountable.

May 23, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2007: Americas Analysis

Preaching Without A Choir
By Carlos Lauría

At June's annual assembly of the organization of American states (OAS) in Panama, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged foreign ministers to send the group's secretary-general, José Miguel Insulza, to investigate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías' decision to pull the plug on the country's oldest private television station, RCTV.
February 5, 2008 12:09 PM ET

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