Freedom of Expression and the Judiciary: Lessons from Latin America

Tuesday, August 29
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. EDT
(Light refreshments provided)

National Endowment for Democracy
1025 F Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004

Silvia Chocarro, Journalist, and consultant on media and freedom of expression
Judge Claudia Escobar, Former magistrate of the Court of Appeals of Guatemala and National Endowment for Democracy Reagan-Fascell Fellow
Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Don Podesta, Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, National Endowment for Democracy

Event Description:

All but one of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have constitutional guarantees or laws that protect freedom of expression as a fundamental right, and in recent years at least 19 countries in the region have reformed their media laws or regulations to strengthen pluralism. These figures speak to the remarkable progress that advocates of free speech and pluralism in the region have made by building alliances with judicial and legal actors. And yet, the rise of violent attacks on journalists by non-state actors and a resurgence of government harassment of reporters, however, also underscores the fragility of the gains won in press freedoms in the region.

To what extent can judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean provide a strong defense against those who would seek to silence independent media, and what lessons does the region offer to other parts of the world contending with similar threats to pluralism and free speech?

Following the launch of a new CIMA publication, “International Standards for Freedom of Expression: A Basic Guide for Legal Professionals in Latin America,” author Silvia Chocarro will lead a roundtable discussion on the role of the judiciary in creating an open media system that complies with international legal norms. Don Podesta, Program Officer at the National Endowment for Democracy, will moderate the discussion, joined by Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Judge Claudia Escobar, former magistrate of the Court of Appeals of Guatemala.