Building peace in the minds of men and women

Promoting debate on freedom of expression with Brazilian Judiciary Power

The Brazilian Supreme Court, the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and UNESCO announced today an unprecedented partnership for an in-depth debate on the right to freedom of expression under the Brazilian Judiciary System.

This high-profile joint effort intends to offer judges throughout Brazil a concrete space to discuss issues related to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of information, taking into account the international debate towards these topics.

The initiative gives particular attention to the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity, recognizing the centrality of the Judiciary in coping with these urgent and complex challenges.

Among the activities planned and organized are an international dialogue about these issues and the creation of online courses for judges who are interested in increasing their expertise in these areas. 

The President of the Supreme Court in Brazil, Justice Joaquim Barbosa, stressed the importance of the partnership by underlining that “the counterpart to freedom of expression and press freedom will always be the responsibility for the manifestation of thought. And it is precisely from the contrast between rights and duties that emerges the true meaning of freedom of expression, whose major purpose is to ensure equality among citizens.”

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr Frank La Rue, "there is no possibility to ensure freedom of expression without legal guarantees that only the Judicial Power can assure, hence this is why this cooperation is extremely relevant".

Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Human Rights System, Ms Catalina Botero noted that "this collaboration with the Brazilian Supreme Court began in early May, with the participation of Minister Joaquim Barbosa during this year’s World Press Freedom Day celebration in Costa Rica. It will certainly strengthen a healthy debate about international standards and it should encourage other courts who may want to adopt similar strategies."

Guy Berger, UNESCO´s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, points out that the initiative was inspired by the spirit of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The Plan seeks to strengthen the contribution of all social sectors to end the problems of killings and intimidation of journalists.

The technical team from the institutions involved in this collaboration was gathered during this year's Global Forum on Human Rights in Brasilia, where they discussed the preparation of a detailed plan of action for 2014, which will be released in the coming weeks.