Freedom of expression


According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , freedom of expression is the right of each individual to have opinions without interference from others and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any means regardless of borders. In everyday life, this fundamental human right is frequently restricted by a number of different tactics including censorship , restrictive legislation on the press and media, and journalists, bloggers and others who express their opinions, as well as to crack down on religious minorities and other suppressions of religious freedom.

What is freedom of expression?

It is the most important part of any democracy , it is a fundamental human right that goes hand in hand with the other rights that allow us to express our ideas and thoughts on a certain issue.

  • What is freedom of expression?
  • Characteristics
  • Background
  • Story
  • Objectives of freedom of expression
  • Advantage
  • Disadvantages
  • Importance
  • Phrases about freedom of expression
  • Freedom of expression by country
  • Examples

What is freedom of expression?

It is a part of the human rights of people protected by the Universal Declaration of 1948 and by the laws of democratic States . The freedom of expression is the right that all human beings have to express themselves without being harassed or persecuted because of what they think and believe.


It is important to know that the right to freedom of expression is not absolute , this happens because the legislation of the countries generally prohibits that a person can incite violence or crime through their thoughts, that they can discriminate and that stimulate hatred or war . In a country, whatever it may be and that enjoys freedom of expression, promoting racial rejection or encouraging assassinations is prohibited.


The main characteristics of freedom of expression are the following:

  • It is linked to freedom of the press as it is the way of transmitting information using the media, preventing the State from exercising control before broadcasting.
  • It is threatened in authoritarian governments and dictatorships .
  • The messages that are said depending on their background and meaning may be punishable by law .
  • Through freedom of expression you can expose the thoughts .
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of expression and thought .
  • It cannot be restricted by indirect means or means, such as the abuse of official or private controls .
  • It also has restrictions such as national , racial or religious hatred .
  • It is applied on the Internet as it is with all media.


Some of the antecedents that gave rise to freedom of expression as a right are:

  • Freedom of speech in Ancient Greece when Cleisthenes was a statesman managed to introduce the democratic form of government in Athens .
  • The Hellenism and the Roman Republic where a mixed constitution between the Assembly, the consuls and the Senate existed.
  • The scholastic illustration of Spain .
  • The 95 theses of Martin Luther


From a historical point of view, freedom of expression has been guaranteed as a human right recently. The ancient rulers accepted it only if it did not threaten their own power or the religious authority of their priests. Even the relatively free society of Athens put its greatest philosopher, Socrates , to death for expressing ideas it found unacceptable.

In the Judeo – Christian tradition , the right to freedom of expression is recent, and in religions such as Islam , it is basically prohibited. In the West, the Catholic Church had the power of expression until the Protestant Reformation ended the Church’s monopoly of truth, giving Christians the right to interpret Scripture with greater freedom .

In the seventeenth century, John Locke said that the proper function of the state is to guarantee the human rights of its people. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was inspired by religious tolerance and freedom of expression in religious matters. In 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence affirmed the Lockian principle that the function of government is to protect freedom as a human right that is not given by the state, but by God.

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen , adopted on August 26, 1789, declared that all citizens could speak , write and print with freedom , but they were also responsible for abuses of this freedom. After World War II , the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression .

Objectives of freedom of expression

The objectives of freedom of expression are the following

  • Respect , protect , promote and guarantee , under the principle of equality and non- discrimination , the right to freedom of expression of people.
  • Achieve greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the media.
  • Establish internationally registered standards on freedom of expression and information.
  • Encourage responsibility , ethics and minimum levels of professional quality in journalism.
  • Enlarge the role of the media in democratic governments .


The advantages of freedom of expression are:

  • It gives us the opportunity to express our ideas , thoughts and opinions without being censored.
  • We can express what we think about specific topics .
  • It reminds us that we all have human rights which cannot be overlooked.


Being a means of expression in which ideas come to light, the following disadvantages may occur:

  • Death threats
  • Comments hurtful and negative.
  • Employees can lose their jobs depending on the comments they make, mainly on social media .
  • There can be cases of bribery .
  • Slander can be generated.


Freedom of expression is important because it is one of the most important pillars that should exist within a democracy , since without it, it would not be possible to say that democracy reigns in a certain place. It is the main weapon so that the different social groups that make up a State can give their opinions and peacefully debate on some topics that are of interest.

Without freedom of expression, the entire people would be repressed and could not defend themselves against the decisions that the government might make, expression would be prohibited and society would probably end in a revolution .

Phrases about freedom of expression

Some phrases that have been mentioned in support of freedom of expression are the following:

  • Without freedom of thought , freedom of speech is useless.
  • The press is the artillery of freedom .
  • In a truly free state, thought and speech must be free .
  • If we don’t believe in the freedom of expression of those we despise , we don’t believe in it at all.
  • Freedom of speech is saying what people don’t want to hear .
  • I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to express it .

Freedom of expression by country

  • Spain : some experts consider that today there is less freedom of expression in this country, mainly due to the creation of the so-called Gag Law , which has set off the alarms of the Platform in Defense of Freedom of Information. This law has come to interfere with the ability of the country’s inhabitants to express themselves and even people have been imprisoned for a tweet.
  • Costa Rica:  the media work for their own benefit and that is why they direct the information and opinion of Costa Ricans. Many of the television media hide news that could affect them and are building a world of lies to maintain their empires, the information they provide can even become limited , yellowish and biased .
  • Colombia : there is a problem that has to do with the actors who threaten freedom of expression and these mainly come from drug trafficking , paramilitarism and the State .


Some examples of freedom of expression are the following:

  • When people have the ability to express their political ideas .
  • The information that journalists give since they keep us informed.
  • The debates that take place between one or more people in which opinions are expressed.

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