Freedom of expression, only in a democracy

Photo EFE

“The printing press is as useful as provisions, and it is the artillery of thought”

Simón Bolívar

Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, freedom of expression has been enshrined in most laws, including its guarantees, which are, among others: the right not to be persecuted for one’s opinions, the right to investigate information and opinions, and the right of timely and accurate information.

Freedom of expression is that right that every human being should enjoy, to freely express their opinions, to be able to publish or communicate them and in turn to have other people respect them.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that this right must be guaranteed as it is essential for every human being to be able to realize and develop properly.

The constitutions of every democratic country include this human right, also known as a fundamental right.

They say that freedom of expression is an elementary means of spreading ideas and discovering any truth. There is no doubt that this human right is necessary for people to know the environment that surrounds them and the world in general, as they will be able to exchange ideas and learn through free communication with others. Then we could say that freedom of expression is the ability to be able to formulate ideas and at the same time to be able to make them known.

On the political side, if the citizens of a country feel that their rights to free communication are respected, the country will gain the trust and respect of its citizens. In turn, if a government meets these characteristics, it will create in the people a sense of approval of its actions. In this way, citizens will be able to have a critical and reasoned opinion when deciding who to vote for in the elections.

The constant confrontation of the media against ruling or opposition politicians helps when it comes to publicizing any corruption or irregularity that happens in the country. In turn, thanks to the media, a connection is achieved between citizens and their rulers, who can express any complaint, concern or even gratitude to the authorities.

One of the great reasons why it is important to enjoy this human right is that thanks to it it is possible to condemn the violation or need of any other human right that is not fulfilled or respected.

Although the right to freedom of expression was defined as such in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this concept has been debated for a long time. Philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu argued that a world full of free people would lead to significant progress, both in the arts and sciences and in politics.

In the French Revolution and in the Revolutionary War of the United States, these ideals were the main arguments that were used and that were reflected in most of the rest of the Western countries.

Generally speaking, freedom of expression will be limited when a particular situation conflicts with other rights or values ​​of individuals. That is, any action that is related to violence, crime or any other case that can cause harm to the other will not be considered as freedom of expression. If the limits of this right are violated, the person will suffer legal sanction or even disapproval or social rejection.

The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in Article 57, establishes that every person has the right to freely express his thoughts, ideas or opinions by voice, in writing or through any other form of expression and to use any means of communication and dissemination, without establishing sanctions of any and be nature.

However, this is a dead letter for the Maduro regime, as campaigns of stigmatization, harassment and operations against the media are repeated, constituting an attack on freedom of expression and information and undermining the important contribution that these media make to giving visibility to violations of the rights of committed by the Venezuelan authorities.

These attacks follow other incidents of harassment of other organizations and are part of a wider campaign against civil society in Venezuela, in which authorities attack the media’s human rights work, in addition to arresting and imprisoning journalists.

Freedom of expression only works in a democracy!

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