Democratic Regime

Universal Standard on Defamation


Restrictions must be provided by law
Law must be formulated with sufficient precision

Legitimate Grounds

Rights of others OR
National security, public order, public health or morals


Necessary for a legitimate purpose (see legitimate grounds)
Only way to achieve protection


Restriction on expression should not be overbroad
Least intrusive instrument amongst those which might achieve their protective function
Proportionate to interest to be protected

Statement of Fact

Statement must not be an opinion that is not subject to verification

Public Officials / Figures

Heightened value of uninhibited expression for public officials/figures
Public figures are subject to criticisms and opposition

Actual Malice

Plaintiff must proof actual malice to go forward on actions concerning public figures
Should avoid penalizing unlawful or untrue statements that have been published in error but without malice

Burden of Proof

Plaintiff bears the burden of proof


Public interest of the subject matter

Inter-American Standard on Defamation


Restrictions must be provided by law
Sufficient precision

Legitimate Grounds

Suitability and legitimate purpose of the restriction: rights, reputation of others & national security, public order, public health or morals


Necessity (in a democratic society): the existence of a "pressing social need", the restrictions must be required by a compelling governmental interest and framed as not to limit the freedom of speech more than is necessary.


Proportionality: Proportionate to interest to be protected

Public Interest speech

Speech involving public officials / candidates / public figures / or be of public interest is a specially protected speech.

There is no crime of opinion

Prohibition against the criminalization of subjective opinions or value judgment

Actual Malice

In cases involving matters of public interest punishment should not be rendered without proving the intent of inflict harm, was fully aware that false news disseminated or acted with gross negligence in efforts to determinate the truth or falsity.

Burden of proof

At all stages the burden of proof must fall on the party who brings the criminal (or civil) proceedings.

Only Civil Law

A public official, a public person or a private person who has voluntarily become involved in matters of public interest can only use civil law to protect their honor or reputation.



Case Submission

If you have a freedom of expression related case you would like to submit to the Human Rights Foundation, please fill out this form.

IncitementDefamation of public oficialsOther

YesNoThis is a civil case

YesNoThe verdict is pending