Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the:
- Right to privacy: Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
- Right to freedom of opinion and expression: Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965)
The resolution 2106 (XX) of 21 December 1965 adopted by General Assembly was signed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on 21 April 1967 and ratified on 10 October 1967.
- Article 5: In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: […](d) Other civil rights, in particular:
[…](viii) The right to freedom of opinion and expression;
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
The resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 adopted by the General Assembly has been signed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on 24 June 1969, while the ratification has arrived on 10 May 1978.
- Article 19 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
- Article 20 1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
American Declaration of the Human Rights and the duties of the Man(1948).
Adopted in 1948 by the Ninth International Conference of American States, in Bogotá, the American Declaration of the Human Rights and the duties of the Man states:
Article IV. Right to freedom of investigation, opinion, expression and dissemination.
“Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any medium whatsoever.”
American Convention on Human Rights “Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica”
Adopted at the Inter-American Specialized Conference on Human Rights
San José, Costa Rica, 22 November 1969, the American Convention on Human Rights was signed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on 22 November 1969 and ratified on 9 August 1977.
PART I - STATE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS PROTECTED
CHAPTER II - CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice.
2. The exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing paragraph shall not be subject to prior censorship but shall be subject to subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established by law to the extent necessary to ensure:
a. respect for the rights or reputations of others; or
b. the protection of national security, public order, or public health or morals.
3. The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means, such as the abuse of government or private controls over newsprint, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemination of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.
4. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 2 above, public entertainments may be subject by law to prior censorship for the sole purpose of regulating access to them for the moral protection of childhood and adolescence.
5. Any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitute incitements to lawless violence or to any other similar action against any person or group of persons on any grounds including those of race, color, religion, language, or national origin shall be considered as offenses punishable by law.
Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression (Washington, DC, October 2000)
The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states thirteen articles to protect Freedom of Expression. As read in the website of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: "After an extensive debate with various civil society organizations, the Commission adopted this declaration, based on a proposal prepared for by the then newly established Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression. This Declaration includes principles related to the protection of the right to freedom of expression, in light of the interpretation of Article 13 of the American Convention and international standards. It includes the following principles: the right to seek, receive, and disseminate information and opinions freely; the right of every person to have access to information about himself or herself, or his or her assets, expeditiously and not onerously, whether in public or private records; the stipulation that prior censorship, interference, or direct or indirect pressure that restricts the right to freedom of expression should be prohibited by law; principles related to the plurality and diversity of media; among others."
For more information on the background and Interpretation of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, click here
Inter-American Democratic Charter
Adopted by the General Assembly at its special session held in Lima (Peru), the 11 September 2001 the Inter-American Democratic Charter states:
I - Democracy and the Inter-American System
"Transparency in government activities, probity, responsible public administration on the part of governments, respect for social rights, and freedom of expression and of the press are essential components of the exercise of democracy.[…]"
Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas
The Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas has been approved by the Inter-American Commission during its 131st regular period of sessions, held from March 3-14, 2008.
Principle XVI - Freedom of expression, association and reunion
"Persons deprived of liberty shall have the right to freedom of expression in their own language, association, and peaceful assembly, subject to the limitations that are strictly necessary in a democratic society to protect the rights of others or public health or morals, and maintain public order, internal security, and discipline in places of deprivation of liberty, as well as subject to other limitations permitted by law and international human rights law."
For more information about the jurisprudence on Freedom of Expression of the inter-American human rights system click here
Terrorism and Freedom of Expression
The following report on Terrorism and Freedom of Expression is part of the Report on Terrorism and Human Rights published by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on October 22, 2002.
The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela guarantees freedoms of speech and the press through the following articles:
- Article 57: Everyone has the right to express freely his or her thoughts, ideas or opinions orally, in writing or by any other form of expression, and to use for such purpose any means of communication and diffusion, and no censorship shall be established. Anyone making use of this right assumes full responsibility for everything expressed. Anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance are not permitted. Censorship restricting the ability of public officials* to report on matters for which they are responsible is prohibited.
- Article 58: Communications are free and plural, and involve the duties and responsibilities indicated by law. Everyone has the right to timely, truthful and impartial information, without censorship, in accordance with the principles of this Constitution, as well as the right to reply and corrections when they are directly affected by inaccurate or offensive information. Children* and adolescents have the right to receive adequate information for purposes of their overall development.
- Article 101: The State guarantees the issuance, receiving and circulation of cultural information. The communications media have the duty of assisting in the dissemination of the values of folk traditions and the work of artists, writers , composers*, motionpicture directors*, scientists* and other creators* of culture of the country. The television media shall include subtitles and translation into Venezuelan sign language for persons with hearing problems. The terms and modalities of these obligations, shall be established by law.
- Article 108: The communications media, public and private, shall contribute to civil education. The State guarantees public radio and television services and library and computer networks, with a view to permitting universal access to information. Education centers are to incorporate knowledge and application of new technologies and the resulting innovations, in accordance with such requirements as may be established by law to this end.
Other Media Legislation
According the 2010 report of Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2010 - Venezuela, 5 October 2010, the 2004 Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television contains some restrictions that can be used to limit freedoms of expression.
According to another report by Human Rights Watch, Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society , 22 December 2010, three laws can pose threats to free speech and the work of civil society:
- The Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (Ley de Responsabilidad Social en Radio, Televisión y Medios Electrónicos.)
- The Organic Law of Telecommunications (Ley orgánica de Telecomunicaciones)
- The Law for the Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination (not yet available online)