UN Special Rapporteur to Visit Philippines for Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Irene Khan. AFP Photo
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The Philippine government has extended an invitation to the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, to visit the country next week. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced that Khan will be in Manila from January 23 to February 2, 2024.

The DFA highlighted that this visit presents an opportunity for Khan to gain a deeper understanding of the Philippines’ well-established democracy, which is the oldest in Asia. The vibrant media landscape and civic space in the country will be showcased during her visit.

The government expressed confidence that through meaningful dialogues and meetings with various stakeholders, including government officials, media representatives, and civil society organizations, Khan will witness the transparency and progressive agenda of the government in promoting and protecting freedom of speech and expression.

This visit signifies the Philippine government’s commitment to open, sustained, and sincere cooperation with bilateral and regional partners, as well as the UN, in advancing its human rights-based development agenda and good governance. It also highlights the country’s dedication to contributing to the strengthening of global norms that uphold human rights and dignity.

Khan’s visit follows the previous visits of two other UN special rapporteurs to the Philippines within the past 14 months. In November 2022, Fatimah Singhateh, the special rapporteur for the sale and exploitation of children, visited the country, followed by Dr. Ian Fry, the special rapporteur for climate change and human rights, in November 2023. Additionally, Morris Tidball-Binz, the special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, was invited for an academic visit in February 2023 by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

The Philippine government has actively engaged with UN special rapporteurs through meetings and dialogues. Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat has been involved in these engagements. The most recent meeting took place in July 2023 during the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

As a signatory to all eight core human rights treaties, the Philippines has undergone five constructive dialogues within the past 14 months. These dialogues began with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Committee, focusing on civil and political rights, in September and October 2022, respectively. In 2023, dialogues were held with the Committee on Migrant Workers, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in March, April, and October, respectively. Furthermore, the Philippines completed its fourth Universal Periodic Review in November 2022.

In December 2023, the Philippines welcomed the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture as part of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

The upcoming visit of Irene Khan, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, to the Philippines demonstrates the country’s commitment to engaging with international partners and upholding human rights. It provides an opportunity for the government to showcase its efforts in promoting and protecting freedom of speech and expression, while also fostering dialogue and cooperation with the UN and other stakeholders.

Source: The Manila Times

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