[WSIS CS-Plenary] spec rapp on freedom of expression
Nyangkwe Agien Aaron
nyangkweagien at gmail.com
Wed Oct 25 12:27:03 BST 2006
Thanks for the wonderful information contained in that text.
On 10/25/06, Rikke Frank Joergensen <rfj at humanrights.dk> wrote:
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> Hi all
> Please find below the speech of the UN special Rapporteur on freedom of
> expression, addressing the Human Rights Council on 22 Sept. 2006. The SR
> addresses media freedom, the Danish cartoon crisis, WSIS and internet
> Statement by Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and
> Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
> At the second regular session of the Human Rights Council
> (18 September - 6 October 2006)
> Mr. Chairman, Members of the Bureau, distinguished delegates, ladies and
> Freedom of opinion and expression is one of the pillars of a fair and
> democratic society. Indeed, the interpretation of principles related
> to its essence and implementation may extensively vary, particularly
> when it comes to the definition of opinion-related offences. Anyhow,
> the free flow of news, information and ideas, within and across national
> borders, contributes to the better understanding of societies that are
> culturally, and often physically, distant from each other. The
> increasing access to global information through modern technologies is
> also an essential component of a successful development strategy.
> Regrettably, violations of the right of freedom of opinion and
> expression, at various extents and forms, continue to take place in many
> countries. Reinforcing the Rule of Law will contribute a great deal to
> decrease cases of impunity. Parliaments should also examine, in a
> speedily manner, new laws and regulations which could allow the full
> enjoyment and exploitation of new technologies available today.
> Comprehensive and pluralist information can only be guaranteed if media
> professionals are allowed to work with sufficient protection and
> security, within freedom prerogatives. States have the primary
> responsibility to take all suitable measures to ensure that journalists
> receive support and protection while working on dangerous subjects and
> in unsafe areas. States are also responsible for ensuring that those
> committing crimes against media professionals are brought to justice.
> I have received allegations concerning military operations that would
> principally have targeted media professionals and their work facilities.
> Many other journalists were killed while investigating corruption cases
> and alleged mismanagement by States' officials, or by criminal
> organizations acting with or without the support of States' apparatus.
> According to reliable sources, from 1 January to 17 August 2006, 84
> media professionals were killed while on duty: while in Africa and in
> the European continent figures are on the average, the situation is
> extremely serious in Asia and Latin American and absolutely appalling in
> the Middle East.
> I have been following with great interest the debate on the
> reinforcement of the security of media professionals on the proposed
> creation of a press emblem. Alternatively, some other media
> organizations have proposed that the Security Council adopt a ad hoc
> resolution. A third option, which in my opinion could be the most
> pragmatic and a step forward in enhancing security of media
> professionals, is the drafting of international guidelines and rules on
> this matter. This honorable Council may wish to consider the
> opportunity of convening a group of experts to prepare a wide-ranging
> study on the causes and consequences of violence against journalists and
> legal remedies available.
> In recent years, several countries replaced, partially or totally,
> criminal defamation laws with civil defamation laws, a measure that also
> allows reducing the workload and costs of overburdened judiciary
> systems. Unfortunately, some of these judicial reforms did not abolish
> offences such as those that "insult national institutions and or
> national symbols" which can easily be used in relation to allegedly
> defamatory statements.
> The issue of the decriminalization of defamation, slander and libel
> remains at the heart of a generalized progress in the field of freedom
> of expression: breaches of defamation laws are still sanctioned with
> prison sentences, suspended prison sentences, excessive fines,
> suspension of the right to express oneself through any particular form
> of media, or to practice journalism. In many countries defamation laws
> are too frequently used to stifle public debate about matters of general
> concern, and to limit criticism of officials.
> I, therefore, wish to reiterate my support for the decriminalization of
> defamation and related offences. Public officials and authorities
> should not take part in the initiation or prosecution of criminal
> defamation cases and should not be granted greater protection than the
> ordinary citizen; they should instead tolerate more criticism because of
> the nature of their public mandates and responsibilities.
> Distinguished delegates
> At the invitation of the Danish Human Rights Institute, I visited
> Denmark in April 2006 to participate in a number of meetings, including
> meetings with Government's officials, in which I gathered significant
> information regarding the so-called "Danish Cartoons Affaire".
> In Denmark, Press and Media enjoy an extended editorial freedom and play
> a pivotal role in providing an arena for debate thus promoting the free
> exchange of opinions and ideas. However, the use of stereotypes,
> libeling and insulting ethnic, social and religious groups do not help
> in support of the relentless efforts to consolidate an open and
> multicultural society. Polarization of opinions, often based on
> distorted arguments and narrow-mindedness, can endanger constructive and
> peaceful dialogue among different communities thus causing disharmony
> and friction in delicate social and cultural balances.
> Freedom of religion and freedom of expression must walk together. There
> will be no freedom of expression without freedom of religion, because
> creeds and beliefs are an essential, deep-rooted component of the life
> of billions people. The spiritual urgency to express, both publicly and
> privately, one's own faith cannot be repressed. All believers,
> regardless of their faith or creed, have the right to practice their own
> religion without any restriction, the only limit being the respect of
> others' rights and freedoms.
> The final phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, held in
> Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005, was marked by strenuous debates
> around issues like the global access and exploitation of Internet
> resources, and enhanced dissemination and availability of information.
> The Internet revolution has definitely opened a new era for freedom of
> opinion and expression, especially for the numerous opportunities for
> the dissemination of education and knowledge. Internet availability may
> have a terrific impact on the quantity and quality of information at the
> disposal of the most disadvantaged classes, especially the rural poor.
> The international community at large, including private enterprises,
> should take this opportunity to provide a chance for substantial human
> and economic development in the less developed countries through the
> exploitation of Internet resources.
> The establishment of an intergovernmental organization on Internet
> governance must be solidly anchored to the principles of freedom of
> opinion and expression as enshrined in international human rights
> instruments. Private corporations, which have been playing a crucial
> role in the promotion of modern technologies, the United Nations, States
> and civil society, will need to cooperate closely in order to make sure
> that human rights will be a fundamental and unavoidable component of the
> future of Internet governance.
> However, much has still to be done to reach a collective concept of
> Internet Governance. Regrettably, I have received numerous reports of
> harassment, arrest, trial and detention of Internet writers in several
> countries. Law-enforcement agencies closed several websites and arrested
> ordinary customers and bloggers, who have subsequently been charged of
> opinion-related offences, such as defamation or slander, and
> terrorist-like activities such as "acts against State security".
> Mr. Chairman,
> Since my presentation before the 61th session of the Commission, I
> participated in the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May
> 2005, organized by UNESCO in Dakar. The theme of the Dakar meeting was
> the role played by the media in promoting democracy and good governance
> by ensuring transparency and accountability, promoting participation and
> the rule of law, and contributing to the fight against poverty.
> I was also invited to the International Press Institute World Congress
> and 54th General Assembly, held in Nairobi, from 21 to 24 May 2005,
> where I participated in a panel entitled "Pluralism and democracy, the
> African experience". In my speech, I pointed out that the quest for
> freedom of opinion and expression by all African peoples was higher than
> ever and the access to modern communication technologies may open new
> opportunities for human and economic development.
> On 3 May 2006, I was invited to the celebrations of the World Press
> Freedom Day, organized by the Department of Public Information of the
> United Nations Office in Geneva, where the participants discussed the
> role of the Press and the Media in general for enhancement of democracy
> and the advancement of human rights.
> On 24 June 2006, I participated in the 8th Annual NGO Forum on Human
> Rights, organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
> of Ireland. The theme of the Forum, chosen to coincide with the
> inaugural session of this honorable Council, was "Global Human Rights
> Protection-the way forward".
> In June 2005 and 2006, I attended the twelfth and thirteen meeting of
> the special rapporteurs/representatives, independent experts and
> chairpersons of working groups of the special procedures and advisory
> services programme held in Geneva.
> Mr. Chairman,
> I would now like to update this honorable Council on my activities with
> regard to urgent appeals and allegations letters, sent to Governments
> for their comments, observations and eventual remedial action.
> In 2005, I signed or co-signed with my fellow special rapporteurs and
> experts 490 communications on allegations of human rights violations, to
> 96 different countries, regarding 1328 individuals. Replies were
> numerous, 42%, but I wish to encourage again Governments to include in
> their responses exhaustive information on human rights violations, thus
> avoiding political statements. I also wish to thank all those
> components of the civil society for providing my mandate with credible
> Distinguished Delegates, I would now like to update the Commission on my
> country visits programme
> I also wish to express my appreciation to the Governments of Algeria,
> Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Honduras, Libya Jahamairia, Macedonia, Maldives,
> Sri Lanka, Sudan and Ukraine for inviting me to visit their countries, a
> task that I intend to accomplish within the time-framework of my
> I thank you Mr. Chairman
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Aaron Agien Nyangkwe
Special Assistant To The President
Tel. 237 337 50 22
Fax. 237 342 29 70
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