The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has expressed its full support for the successful implementation of United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan’s mandate during her visit to the Philippines. Khan arrived on January 22 for a 10-day official visit to examine the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country.
In a statement, the DFA highlighted that this visit underscores the Philippines’ commitment to fostering a robust environment for freedom of expression and opinion in alignment with global human rights principles. The government sees this as an opportunity to engage openly and constructively with relevant UN mechanisms on human rights.
As a UN special rapporteur, Khan’s mandate includes the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, both offline and online, in accordance with international human rights law and standards. Special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address specific country situations or thematic areas around the world.
During her visit, Khan will engage in a series of diverse and cooperative dialogues to examine the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the Philippines. She will visit Metro Manila, Baguio City, and Cebu City to explore legal and policy frameworks and assess their impact on the safety of journalists and their sources, freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age, media freedom, and access to information.
In addition, Khan will investigate issues such as disinformation, hate speech, and the expression of marginalized individuals, including Indigenous Peoples. Her visit provides an opportunity for the Philippines to showcase its commitment to promoting the freedom of expression and opinion.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Charles Jose emphasized that Khan’s visit allows the Philippines to reaffirm its strong commitment to fulfilling its mandate in promoting freedom of expression and opinion. He highlighted that the DFA and the entire Philippine government view her visit as an opportunity to demonstrate openness and willingness to receive visits from UN representatives.
During their meeting, Jose and Khan exchanged views on various issues, not solely focused on the Philippine context. They shared experiences from other countries, fostering a productive dialogue. Jose mentioned that Khan had a very positive impression of the vibrancy of the Philippine media, acknowledging the numerous media outlets, television and radio stations in the country.
The Philippines considers the media as a vital part of democracy, often referred to as the fourth estate. The government strongly supports policies that protect and promote freedom of expression and opinion. Khan’s assessment of the situation in the Philippines will contribute to the ongoing efforts to safeguard these fundamental rights.
Following her visit, Khan will present a final report during the 59th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2025. The report will provide valuable insights and recommendations for further enhancing freedom of opinion and expression in the country.
In conclusion, the Philippines welcomes UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan’s visit as an opportunity to showcase its commitment to fostering an environment that upholds freedom of expression and opinion. The government’s full support and cooperation demonstrate its dedication to promoting and protecting these fundamental rights. Through open and constructive engagement, the Philippines aims to strengthen its human rights framework and contribute to the global discourse on freedom of opinion and expression.
Source: The Manila Times