FINAL THOUGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The violations of freedom of expression in the hemisphere vary from
virtually absolute censorship in Cuba to simple administrative or bureaucratic
obstacles to finding information.
The Office of the Rapporteur is most disturbed by the murders of
journalists, mainly because of the terrible loss of human life and the
demoralizing effect that such acts have on all society.
The murders of journalists notwithstanding, the main obstacle to full
enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression is the legislation used by
authorities to silence their critics. In
some cases, these laws have to be amended; elsewhere, principles have to be
introduced that guarantee the right to freedom of expression.
The law, observance of the law, and freedom of expression are pillars of
a democratic society. Weakness in
any one of them, as is true in some States in this hemisphere, poses a constant
threat to the stability of democratic government in the hemisphere.
The Special Rapporteur recommends to the member States that they adapt
their domestic laws to conform to the parameters established in the American
Convention on Human Rights and to ensure full compliance with the terms of
Article IV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
The Special Rapporteur again recommends that the member States repeal
their contempt [desacato] laws, as they
restrict the public debate that is essential to the functioning of a democratic
society and are contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Rapporteur urges the States to
incorporate into their laws the dual system of protection with respect to public
and private persons, one practical consequence of which is the acceptance of the
doctrine of “actual malice” and the resulting amendment of libel and slander
laws. He also reminds States that publishing information provided
by third parties cannot be restricted by the threat of holding the publisher
responsible for repeating claims made by another.
The Special Rapporteur is recommending to the member States that access
to information and habeas data be guaranteed for all citizens, both in fact and in law,
as both are essential to freedom of expression and the democratic system of
The Special Rapporteur also recommends the elimination of any
qualifications that could imply prior censorship of the right of freedom of
expression, such as demanding that information be true.
The Special Rapporteur is recommending that the States introduce and put
into practices effective policies and measures that allow women equal access to
education and make it easier for women to report acts of violence and have the
responsible parties prosecuted. The
States should also conduct promotional and educational campaigns about women’s
rights and the mechanisms available to ensure their protection.
The Rapporteur is urging the states to put into practice mechanisms that
will give women equal representation in political life.
The Special Rapporteur believes that the Internet is an instrument with
the capacity to fortify the democratic system, assist the economic development
of the region’s countries, and strengthen full enjoyment of freedom of
expression. The Special Rapporteur thus urges the member States to
refrain from implementing any sort of regulation that would violate the terms of
the American Convention.
Finally, the Rapporteur would like to thank the various States that have
collaborated with the Office of the Rapporteur this year, and the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights and its Executive Secretariat for their abiding
Similarly, the Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the independent
journalists who day after day perform one of the functions most crucial to a
democratic society, which is to report information to the public so that they
might exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations as informed citizens.
“[T]he legacy of the old laws and openly approved social practices
continues to allow widespread intrafamily violence to exist.”
“Although the laws do not explicitly advocate violence, the failure
to react, the indifference, the inefficient and conflicting policies and
procedures of social institutions all continue to mirror that structure of
domination and subordination that engenders and legitimizes intrafamily
violence against women.” Sagot
Montserrat, 1995. “Gender
Socialization, Violence and Femicide.”
Revista reflexiones, in “La
ruta crítica que siguen las mujeres afectadas por la violencia
intrafamiliary” Pan American Health Organization, Research Protocol p.
6, Washington, D.C.