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Inter-American court ruling seen as serious setback for press freedom

The Chair of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Chair of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

The following is a CPJ Blog post by Carlos Lauría, Senior Americas Program Coordinator:

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.

So, when the court's latest ruling was announced two weeks ago, free press advocates were dismayed. In its decision, involving Carlos and Pablo Mémoli, Argentine publishers of the small newspaper La Libertad in San Andrés de Giles, a town in Buenos Aires province, the court decided for the first time that a criminal sanction for defamation didn't affect freedom of expression as established in Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Read the full story on CPJ's site.

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