PALAMARA-IRIBARNE V. CHILE
Palamara-Iribarne, a retired Chilean Navy officer, was a civil servant hired as contractor by the Chilean Navy in the city of Punta Arenas. In March 1993, he published the book 'Ética y Servicios de Inteligencia' ('Ethics and Intelligence Services'), in which he addressed issues related to military intelligence and the need to bring it into line with certain ethical standards. Because of the controversy generated by the publication of the book, copies of the book were seized, as well as the originals, a diskette containing the full text, and the galleys of the publication, and the complete text of the book in question was erased from Palamara-Iribarne's personal hard disk.
Palamara-Iribarne was prosecuted for two counts of disobedience and correspondingly convicted. He called a press conference at his residence, after which criminal charges were instituted against him for contempt of authority (desacato). He was found guilty. After he refused to halt publication of the book, criminal proceedings were instituted against him in the Naval Court of Magallanes for the crimes of disobedience and breach of military duties. Moreover, based on the same events, a summary administrative investigation was conducted by the Office of the Naval Administrative Prosecutor of the Third Naval Zone for administrative violations.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared that the State violated the right to freedom of thought and expression consecrated in Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of Mr. Palamara-Iribarne, regarding the general obligations to respect and guarantee rights and freedoms, and to adopt the domestic law regulations set forth in Articles 1(1) and 2. The Court said that: 'a violation of Article 13 of the
Convention may take different forms, depending on whether the violation results in the denial of the freedom of expression or whether it entails a restriction beyond permissible limits. Not every breach of Article 13 of the Convention entails an outright denial of the right to freedom of expression, which occurs when government power is used to establish means to prevent the free flow of information, ideas, opinions or news. Examples of this type of violation are prior censorship, seizure or banning of publications and, in general, any measures that subject expression or dissemination of information to State control. In such case, there is a gross violation not only of the right of each individual to express their views, but also of the right of each person to be well informed, thus affecting one of the fundamental basis of a democratic society'.
Author Organisation: Inter-American Commisson of Human Rights