Advisory Opinion OC-5/85 requested by the Government of Costa Rica
By a note of July 8, 1985, the Government of Costa Rica submitted an advisory opinion request to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights relating to the interpretation of Articles 13 and 29 of the American Convention on Human Rights as they affect the compulsory membership in an association prescribed by law for the practice of journalism. The request also sought the Court's interpretation relating to the compatibility of Law No. 4420 of September 22, 1969, Organic Law of the Colegio de Periodistas (Association of Journalists) of Costa Rica, with the provisions of the aforementioned articles
In its interpretation, th Court established:
"...The Court also believes, however, that that same concept of public order in a democratic society requires the guarantee of the widest possible circulation of news, ideas and opinions as well as the widest access to information by society as a whole. Freedom of expression constitutes the primary and basic element of the public order of a democratic society, which is not conceivable without free debate and the possibility that dissenting voices be fully heard.Freedom of expression is a cornerstone upon which the very existence of a democratic society rests. It is indispensable for the formation of public opinion. It is also a conditio sine qua non for the development of political parties, trade unions, scientific and cultural societies and, in general, those who wish to influence the public. It represents, in short, the means that enable the community, when exercising its options, to be sufficiently informed. Consequently, it can be said that a society that is not well informed is not a society that is truly free"
Author Organisation: Organization of American States