Declaration calls for higher penalties for crime against freedom of expression
On 25 June 2012, Article 19 reported that international experts jointly call for all governments to create a new category of ‘crime against free expression’ in response to the increasing number of attacks against journalists, media workers, bloggers, human rights defenders and others targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
(Artists were not mentioned, but we assume they are also to be included among ‘others targeted’.)
The category of crime against freedom of expression will warrant higher penalties, on the ground that crimes against those exercising their freedom of expression undermines the right to know of all, and affect societies as a whole.
The four international special rapporteurs on freedom of expression have been mandated by the UN, African Union, Organization of American States and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. They are:
• Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression
• Dunja Mijatovic, the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
• Catalina Botero, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression for the Organisation of American States, and
• Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information for the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
The Joint Declaration on Crimes Against Freedom of Expression of the four international experts on freedom of expression outlines states obligations to fight impunity for attacks against freedom of expression and identifies steps that the states must adopt in order to prevent these crimes, protect the victims and investigate the crimes effectively when the violations occur. It includes recommendations to set up specialised investigatory units and to create specialised protection programmes, based on local needs and challenges.
The 2012 Joint Declaration provides a valuable guidance to states and the international community at a time when incidents of violence and other attacks on journalists, media workers, human rights defenders, users of social media and others are on the increase.
The 2012 Joint Declaration is being released at a press conference in Port of Spain, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on the occasion of the International Press Institute (IPI) annual conference.
ARTICLE 19 has been coordinating the drafting of these Joint Declarations since 1999.