UN Special Rapporteur to Examine Freedom of Expression in the Philippines

Irene Khan. AFP Photo
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UNITED Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan arrived in the Philippines on Monday for a 10-day official visit aimed at examining the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country. The visit, which will take place from January 23 to February 2, is part of the Philippine government’s commitment to open and constructive engagement on human rights with relevant UN mechanisms.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Khan’s arrival on X (formerly Twitter), stating that her mission will focus on issues surrounding free speech and opinion. The DFA emphasized that the Philippine government is fully supporting the successful implementation of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate during her visit, highlighting the country’s commitment to fostering a robust environment for freedom of expression and opinion in line with global human rights principles.

During her stay, Khan will be visiting Metro Manila, Baguio City, and Cebu City to explore the legal and policy frameworks related to the safety of journalists and their sources, freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age, media freedom, access to information, disinformation, hate speech, and the expression of marginalized individuals, including indigenous peoples. This comprehensive approach reflects the UN’s commitment to understanding the multifaceted challenges faced by countries in upholding freedom of expression.

To gather a well-rounded perspective, Khan will meet with government officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice, and the Presidential Task Force on Media Security. She will also engage with civil society representatives and private companies, all of which have been arranged by both the Philippine government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This collaborative effort ensures a comprehensive assessment of the current state of freedom of opinion and expression in the Philippines.

Irene Khan has been serving as the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since August 1, 2020. Her mandate encompasses the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, both offline and online, in accordance with international human rights law and standards. By focusing on the digital age and the challenges it presents to freedom of expression, Khan’s visit acknowledges the evolving nature of communication and the need to adapt legal and policy frameworks accordingly.

At the conclusion of her visit, Khan will prepare a final report to be considered during the 59th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2025. This report will provide valuable insights and recommendations for the Philippines to further enhance its protection of freedom of opinion and expression.

The presence of UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan in the Philippines is a testament to the country’s commitment to human rights and its willingness to engage with international mechanisms. By actively participating in these visits and assessments, the Philippine government demonstrates its dedication to upholding freedom of expression and opinion, ensuring that the voices of its citizens are heard and respected.

As the visit progresses, it is anticipated that Khan’s observations and findings will shed light on the strengths and areas for improvement in the Philippines’ legal and policy frameworks concerning freedom of opinion and expression. The insights gained from this visit will contribute to the ongoing efforts to create an environment that fosters open dialogue, protects journalists, and promotes the free exchange of ideas in the Philippines.

Source: The Manila Times

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