Civil society organisations welcome new IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Pedro Vaca

We would also like to express our gratitude for the diligent work carried out by outgoing special rapporteur Edison Lanza and the achievement of notable advances for freedom of expression during his six years in the position.

Pedro Vaca was chosen from a list of outstanding professionals dedicated to freedom of expression in the Americas. His appointment is the result of a transparent and participatory selection process led by the IACHR. In this context, we would like to highlight the relevance of the selection procedures suggested by civil society members that were adopted by the Commission, such as the publication of a gender-balanced list of candidates and the dissemination of videos submitted by the ten finalists. 81 individuals applied for the position and the fact that the Commission received hundreds of comments from civil society organisations and OAS member states reaffirms the importance of the special rapporteur’s mandate in the Americas.

Since its creation in 1997, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression has been fundamental in promoting and monitoring freedom of expression in the Americas. It has been essential for the development of doctrine, jurisprudence, and Inter-American standards for freedom of expression. Its work has been crucial in reforming OAS member state freedom of expression legislation to conform to Inter-American System of Human Rights standards. In short, the Office of the Special Rapporteur has been vital in responding in an effective manner to the increasingly complex situation for freedom of expression and access to information in the Americas.

Freedom of expression in the region is currently facing significant challenges, including violence against those who exercise this right—especially journalists—and impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks; closure of civic space; access to information restrictions and a tendency toward opaqueness regarding human rights issues or topics of interest to the public; new challenges presented by digital technology with regard to communications surveillance, net neutrality, connectivity and access to information; issues relating to effective guarantees for public participation in debates by individuals, collectives and civil society organisations with less visibility at the regional level—such as women, LGBTQI+ groups, specific ethnic communities, etc.—among others.

We, the undersigned organisations, reiterate our strong support for the activities of the Office of the Special Rapporteur and we are ready to work together with Pedro Vaca and his team to address the most pressing issues facing freedom of expression in the Americas.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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