Freedom of Expression

Press release R74/23

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR presents its 2022 Annual Report

April 24, 2023

Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (SRFOE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents its Annual Report on the Situation of Freedom of Expression in the Hemisphere in 2022, which is part of the Annual Report presented by the Inter-American Commission to the OAS Member States.

The Office of the Rapporteur noted with concern that 2022 was the deadliest year for journalists in the region in the last 24 years, since the publication of the first annual report in 1998.  At least 39 journalists were killed for reasons that could be linked to the profession, in 10 of the 35 member states of the Organization of American States (OAS).  An additional concern to this phenomenon of violence has to do with the fact that the Office of the Special Rapporteur does not perceive significant progress in the investigations of these crimes, which translates into increased levels of self-censorship and silence.

Similarly, SRFOE has monitored and received reports of other forms of violence, such as threats, intimidation, attacks on media facilities, harassment through social networks or restrictions on the free exercise of journalism when covering protests, in addition to physical aggressions and arbitrary detentions.

This office has also monitored stigmatizing speeches by public officials and political leaders against the press, which results in an increase in the risk of professionals when exercising their functions.

2022 was also marked by several protests in different parts of the region, some of which saw excessive use of police force to disperse citizen demonstrations.  The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists on recalling that member states must guarantee the exercise of peaceful protest and refrain from restricting this right disproportionately, in accordance with international human rights standards.

Regarding the fight against discrimination and exclusion, SRFOE observed obstacles to the effective enjoyment of freedom of expression in various groups in vulnerable situations, such as women, LGBTI persons, indigenous peoples, among others, who face particular challenges for their realities to be included and made visible in the public debate.

On the other hand, this Office registered progress in court decisions that seek to guarantee the freedom of expression of women journalists and women who denounce gender-based violence, sanctions against officials for stigmatizing expressions and the adoption of measures that seek to guarantee plurality in public debate.

Regarding freedom of expression and the Internet, the Office of the Special Rapporteur noted with concern the continuity of initiatives that seek to control the flow of information in a manner contrary to international standards, which may threaten the existence of the Internet as a free, open, and inclusive space.

This is the twenty-fourth Annual Report prepared by the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression since its creation in 1997.

·        To access the full 2022 Annual Report, click here.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.