Insult Laws

INSULT LAWS WHEREAS throughout the Americas there are 16 countries whose legal systems have legal regulations commonly called “insult laws,” which provide for criminal punishment with imprisonment for uninhibited criticism of government officials WHEREAS the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States in its 1994 report concluded that insult laws are incompatible with freedom of expression as set forth in Article 13 of the American Declaration of Human Rights (the Pact of San José) and therefore violate this fundamental right WHEREAS the Inter American Press Association has led a campaign against insult laws because they restrict freedom of expression and of the press and the right to information WHEREAS the IAPA has promoted adoption of the judicial standard of actual malice which provides that when the press publishes inaccuracies or insults about public officials, the cases shall be resolved by applying the standard of actual malice which makes the press responsible only if the intention to cause harm or extreme indifference to the truth is proved WHEREAS Principle 10 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states that “no news medium nor journalist may be punished for publishing the truth or criticizing or denouncing the government” THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to call on governments and congresses whose legislation includes insult laws to present bills expressly revoking these laws to ask judges in countries that have insult laws to adopt and apply the legal norm of actual malice, that is to say, the intention to cause harm, when hearing accusations against journalists and the media for freely criticizing public officials.