Critics Are Not Criminals
Campaign Against the Criminalization of Speech

A Regional Consensus


Court and legislatures in the Americas have increasingly found that defamation should be a civil matter. Here are some key resources in support of free expression.

International conventions & declarations

  • The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2000, asserts that criminal defamation laws violate freedom of expression guarantees and that public officials should be subject to greater scrutiny.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948, establishes in Article 19 that: "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."
  • Adopted at the ninth international conference of American states, which also established the Organization of American States, the declaration on human rights establishes the right to freedom of expression in Article 4.
  • The American Convention on Human Rights, also known as the Pact of San José, took effect in 1978 and set the legal framework for human rights in the Inter-American system.
  • A joint declaration by special rapporteurs for the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Co-Operation and Security in Europe called for slander and libel laws worldwide to be brought in line with international principles on freedom of expression. DECLARATION


Inter-American system

United States

National Laws

Campaign Coordinator
Carlos Lauría
Research Associate
Sara Rafsky

[email protected]
[email protected]

Tel: 212-465-1004
ext. 120, 146
Fax: 212-465-9568

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New York, NY, 10001 USA

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