The office of the special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was created in 1997 to advance freedom of expression in the hemisphere, and over that period has contributed significantly to the protection and expansion of press freedom. So when Catalina Botero leaves the office in October, her successor--Edison Lanza, a Uruguayan lawyer, journalist, and free press advocate--will have big shoes to fill.
For more than a decade, courts and legislatures throughout Latin America have found that civil remedies provide adequate redress in cases of libel and slander. Over this period, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights -- an autonomous judicial institution, which is part of the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States (OAS) -- has issued key decisions supporting press freedom, including a 2004 landmark ruling that struck down a criminal defamation conviction of a Costa Rican journalist.
"Governments pass, but laws stay," said Uruguayan President José Mujica.
During a meeting with CPJ, and representatives from Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders at the president's executive office in Montevideo, the political capital, the former member of the leftist guerrilla group Tupamaros reflected on the upcoming congressional debate over new broadcast legislation. "It is our duty to ensure universal access to radio and television and contribute to freedom of information," Mujica added.
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.
Letters | Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela
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.
"Leave me in peace. Wallow in your garbage," Brazilian Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa said in a rage when a reporter with one of the leading national newspapers, O Estado de Sao Paulo, tried to ask him a question Tuesday at a meeting of the National Council of Justice in Brasilia, the capital. Stunned by Barbosa's reaction, the journalist demanded an explanation. "You are a clown," was the response he received from the president of Brazil's highest court.
In more than a decade in power, President Hugo Chávez Frías has overseen the transformation of nearly every aspect of Venezuelan society, including the media. When Chávez came to office in 1999, he enjoyed the support of the country’s established private media. But the relationship soon soured, and in April 2002 he was briefly deposed in a coup that he alleges was carried out with the support of key media owners. Today, several of the most critical media outlets are either gone or scared into silence, and a vast state media presence echoes the government’s positions. By Joel Simon
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.