IGF 2023 Town Hall #151 Freedom of Speech, content control & fight against violence

Debate - 60 Min

Description

In recent years, tensions between freedom of expression and speech that is discriminatory or incites violence have become increasingly evident. Focusing on gender, for instance, in 2023, the UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression conducted regional consultations on freedom of expression and gender-based violence online. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a need to define and narrow down concepts, including the types of speech that could qualify as hate speech under international human rights law.

Online gender-based violence is a type of violence that restricts women's participation in public life and severely impacts their lives and the exercise of their rights. However, on the road to addressing this problem, there are cases in the region in which, far from strengthening access to justice and promoting measures to facilitate the reporting and redress of victims, freedom of expression and privacy is severely affected. This, of course, entails significant risks for the women themselves, as well as for activists, human rights defenders and citizens in general.

The trends at the regional and national levels are somewhat worrisome. Countries, for example, have been discussing the ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Discrimination and Intolerance, with broad definitions of questionable impacts on freedom of expression. In fact, the Convention establishes obligations on States, but there do not seem to be important distinctions (such as public interest, speech contexts, etc.). On the other hand, attempts to criminalize certain offenses that lead to censorship, and the creation of take-down obligations without human rights safeguards, are also becoming more common.

In Colombia, recently, two acts on violence against political women and online gender based violence have been debated in Congress. Both initiatives have proposed state faculties to block content, in a rapid manner and without judicial safeguards. The definitions on violence and the speech that is under its scope is vague and allows for arbitrary decisions. The state faculties could also allow authorities to surveill speech online, permitting invasive patrolling activities on social media that has been used to profile government critics, human rights defenders and journalists in the past.

In México, a similar law has been used to harass journalists. Prosecutorial investigations have been opened against journalists who denounced cases of corruption of public officials, or for the critical exercise of their work.

Likewise, in Peru, a Bill has been presented which, with the intention of combating the non-consensual dissemination of intimate material, proposes that the Public Ministry and the Ministry of Transport and Communications have the power to remove content from the network.

In the session, it is proposed to explore the risks of these proposals, as well as alternatives to address the public problem hand in hand with grassroots organizations and civil society.

The session will be conducted using the tools provided by the Secretariat (IGF Zoom and Calendar). The main quotes will be shared through the organization's social networks, tagging the official IGF pages.

Organizers

Hiperderecho
Lucía León, Hiperderecho, CSO, GRULAC
Catalina Moreno, Karisma, CSO, GRULAC
Agustina del Campo, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Academia, GRULAC
Martha Tudon, Article 19, CSO, GRULAC

Speakers

Lucía León, Hiperderecho, CSO, GRULAC
Catalina Moreno, Karisma, CSO, GRULAC
Agustina del Campo, Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (CELE), Academia, GRULAC
Martha Tudon, Article 19, CSO, GRULAC

Onsite Moderator

Catalina Moreno, Karisma, CSO, GRULAC

Online Moderator

Lucía León, Hiperderecho, CSO, GRULAC

Rapporteur

Lucía León, Hiperderecho, CSO, GRULAC

SDGs

5.1
5.2
16.10


Targets: The proposal addresses the need to combat all types of discrimination and violence against women in harmony with freedom of expression, access to information and other fundamental freedoms.