IRRC No. 910

The role of freedom of expression in the construction of historical memory

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The construction of historical memory is closely linked to the guarantees provided by the right to freedom of expression. This right ensures that victims and society in general are able to speak about the past, narrate their own stories, and call for and influence social discussion and institutional reform. Mechanisms such as access to State archives, participation in the media, journalistic coverage of armed conflicts and the free flow of stories, artistic endeavours, criticisms and condemnations empower victims and the rest of society in the construction of alternative narratives and independent memories. This article examines case law of the Inter-American System of Human Rights that elaborates on freedom of expression, and considers its importance for the construction of historical memory. It also touches upon some decisions taken by the Colombian high courts, relevant to a context in which mechanisms of transitional justice have recently been implemented.

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