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Freedom of Expression. Is It an Absolute Right?

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By: Attorney Elias Flores Gallegos

Freedom of Expression is a human right, a fundamental right and a constitutional right. It is foreseen in the Universal Human Rights Declaration, in international treaties such as the pact of San Jose Costa Rica, and in the Political Constitution of the Mexican States, among others.

We all have the right to express our ideas, whether they’re good or bad, ideas which might be political, religious or any type of ideas. We have the right to express them and publish them in any type of media, whether is printed, digital, radio, television, etc. However, the freedom of expression is not an absolute or total right. As with any other, it has its limitations, which cannot and should not run through personal and legal privacy of people.

The right of any person ends, where the right of another one starts. Expressing oneself freely, does not mean that any person can insult, defame or slander anybody, under the excuse and protection of freedom of expression law, much less when that information is not a product of professional research or journalistic analysis, supported by documentation and testimonials worth of trust.

The same set of laws that give rise to Freedom of Expression, are the ones who establish its own limitations, as stated before, it is not a total or absolute right. No one, nobody has the right to insult anyone, and in the same way no one is forced to put up with any insult or harm to oneself. There is no law that protects insult, there is no right to insult. Therefore all people should respect, people’s personal life and privacy.

The restriction to the right of Freedom of Expression is summarized in only one word: Respect.

Violating Freedom of Expression by injuring someone else is becoming more common due to the number of digital media, such as social media, who at the same time are, spouses, mother, father, children, siblings, employees or bosses, people who are being affected for Freedom of Expression abuse, which is, moral damage, understanding the loss a person suffers in his/her feelings, affection, beliefs, modesty, honor, reputation, private life, shape and physical appearance, or in regard to what others think of her/him.

The Freedom of Expression right, is a right which has to be practiced with responsibility, giving preference to others rights, before his/her own, or to any personal interest.

Any person victim of Freedom of Expression, has the right to use the courts to demand a compensation for moral damage and loss, injuries, against a person or communication media who has defamed him/her.

ELIAS FLORES GALLEGOS

Elias Flores Gallegos, Attorney at Law, current President at FLORES GALLEGOS ABOGADOS Law Firm, S.C., in Mexicali, graduate of the Autonomous University of Baja California, with an L.L.M. in International Corporate Law from the University of Guadalajara, currently litigator specializing in the areas of civil, commercial, corporate, criminal, agricultural, family, administrative law, among other areas, with over 25 years of experience. He has contributed academically as a la law professor at UABC and Cetys University, he was awarded Attorney of the Year in 2009 by the INC in Mexico.

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