1944 infographic on electromagnetic radiation. Photo: Lawrence Livermore.
At an event organised by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, participants discussed how communications laws should be regulated and implemented. Silvia Chocarro wrote about the discussion for the Toronto-based IFEX network.
The starting point for the discussion on challenges to freedom of expression in Latin America was that communications laws and regulations are necessary, but the question is what kind and degree of regulation and how it should be implemented.
The event took place in Washington D.C. on Feb. 11, organized by Inter-American Dialogue in addition to IACHR.
Edison Lanza, IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, explained to IFEX the three-fold objectives for the meeting. It brought together specialists on the issue: to present the work of the rapporteur’s office, to discuss freedom of expression challenges, and to bring forward recommendations on the development and implementation of communication laws.
The event included a debate on the Internet’s impact on freedom of expression and challenges relating to Internet governance.
“It is now accepted that regulation is necessary, but it wasn’t always so,” said Santiago Cantón, executive director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and the IACHR’s first Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (1998-2001).
As Lanza noted, the process of modernising communications legislation began just a few years ago in Latin America. He added, however, that it has now become an important discussion, “fundamental for the promotion of pluralism and media diversity as a means to advance democracy.”
Guilherme Canela, Adviser in Communication and Information at UNESCO’s regional office in Montevideo (Uruguay), noted that “diversity and pluralism are the central questions.” He emphasized that it is not just about the concentration of media property, but also the concentration of power– and that it is a question not only of imparting information but also of seeking and receiving information, the three pillars outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Moreover, “without pluralism and diversity, there is no citizen participation and, as such, no democracy,” said former U.N. freedom of expression rapporteur Frank La Rue, currently with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights office in Florence.
To read the full article, click here. (The article was translated from the original Spanish)
Silvia Chocarro Marcesse is a journalist and freedom of expression consultant. @silviachocarro