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Article 19 advocates caution in deploying defamation for unverified claims.

7 diciembre, 2023
ARTICLE 19 expresses concern about the use of defamation and slander crimes from the Penal Code of the State of Nuevo León against journalist Alfredo Jalife-Rahme. These crimes, in their criminal scope, go against international standards of freedom of expression.

Jalife-Rahme was arrested by the Ministerial Police of the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City on December 5, 2023, as documented in the National Registry of Detentions. According to information shared by Tatiana Clouthier on social media, this is related to a process initiated in December 2022 for these two crimes “and whatever may result.” This process started in the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Nuevo León.

While the organization acknowledges, in line with Principle 7 of the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression, the importance of the right to rectification and reply for correcting incorrect information or unverified data that may have infringed on a recognized right of an individual or media outlet, the use of criminal law in this context is contrary to the right to freedom of expression.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has established that defamation and slander crimes are contrary to Mexico’s international commitments and obligations regarding the balance between freedom of expression and honor and dignity. “[…] criminal defamation is not a justifiable restriction of freedom of expression; criminal defamation laws must be repealed and, as necessary, replaced by appropriate civil defamation laws.” Additionally, following the principle of minimal intervention of criminal law, as it is the most intrusive, it should be considered as a last resort.

Interestingly, these crimes have already been repealed in the Federal Penal Code. However, Nuevo León is one of the five federative entities where the crime of slander has not been repealed.