Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Restrictions on freedom of expression may take direct and indirect forms. A state may censor speech, criminalize defamation, harass the media or individual journalists, fail to investigate crimes against the media , require the compulsory licensing of journalists, or fail to enact freedom of information laws or laws that prohibit monopoly ownership of the media. A victim of a restriction on freedom of expression that violates international law may have no recourse in domestic courts, either because state law offers no remedy or because judges are too intimidated to enforce the laws as written. In such instances, victims need recourse to an international forum to protect and enforce their rights. In the Western hemisphere individual allegations of violations of freedom of expression may be brought before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and, dependent on jurisdiction, tried by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. These organs have developed a progressive case law on the right of freedom of expression. The Author critiques the contributions made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to the growing international jurisprudence on freedom of expression. Whenever possible, the Author analyzes the Inter-American Court's case holdings in light of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the U.N. Human Rights Committee. The Article also addresses issues that have not yet been presented to the Inter-American Court and analyzes potential issues in light of the American Convention.