UN / FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

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18-Oct-2021 00:03:33
UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan said this particular right is “not a monopoly of western countries” adding that the safety of journalists and media freedom are top priorities for her. UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
TRT: 3:33
SOURCE: UNIFEED
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 18 OCTOBER 2021, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, flags outside UN headquarters

18 OCTOBER 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
"This particular right is not a monopoly of western countries. It actually matters for the whole world, and that is one of the issues that I am very keen to show its relevance to the sustainable development goals and to the 2030 agenda, and to the particular crisis of the pandemic."
4. Med shot, journalist asking question
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
"And one major factor that we have found is the statements that are often made by the politicians denigrating the integrity of the media actually invites others then to move in and attack media. So, in that process, public trust is lost, but journalists and media freedom are put into direct peril."
6. Wide shot, journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
"Their business model is one that actually encourages disinformation and misinformation. So, in my report one of the main recommendations that I have put has been strong data protection by states and a review by companies of their business model, in addition to transparency. They need to be much more transparent about what they are doing, including with algorithms and so on."
8. Wide shot, press room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
"Gender equality in health, in education, in a lot of other areas gets attention. But freedom of expression is really the right that empowers and enables women to change the situation from their perspective. It is an empowering right, and it is one that does not get adequate attention, primarily because of fear. You know, the social forces of patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny are very much alive and are growing because of the political trends of authoritarianism, fundamentalism and so on. So, I think we need to be extremely vigilant, and we need to be very outspoken. Women are doing marvellous things, but the pressure on the other side is very high."
10. Wide shot, press room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
"Afghanistan had quite a vibrant independent media sector which has all but disappeared. Women journalists are not going to work. Male journalists who are going to work are - basically they have been chilled. They are self-censoring. So, it is a very, very dangerous situation. And in that kind of situation of course it is very hard to say that one can negotiate with the Taliban, but I would hope that those who are negotiating with the Taliban at the international level would keep in mind the importance of insisting on freedom of expression, particularly in relation to minorities, in relation to women, and in relation to the media."
12. Wide shot, press room
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
"There are so many human rights violations in that process that occurred, but most particularly, the message it sent was a terrible message, a chilling message for journalists and bloggers. They were not safe basically. If you were a Belarusian journalist, then you are not safe. the long arm of the state will go after you."
14. Wide shot, press room

STORYLINE:

UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan said this particular right is “not a monopoly of western countries” adding that the safety of journalists and media freedom are top priorities for her.

Speaking to reporters today (18 Oct) following her address to the third committee of the UN General Assembly, Khan said the awarding of this year's Noel Peace Prize to two journalists underlines the importance of the freedom of expression without which many global problems cannot be addressed. On the other hand, she said, the world watched in horror two months ago when the voices of women and girls were crushed in Afghanistan.

The Special Rapporteur said things are getting worse for journalists in terms of killings and attacks with the geographic spread of these attacks and rampant impunity.

Khan said almost eight out of ten cases of attacks on journalists are not prosecuted and this percentage has not changed in the last ten years. She stressed the need to prevent attacks and not only investigate after the fact, adding that this starts with the political leadership.

The Special Rapporteur said, “One major factor that we have found is the statements that are often made by the politicians denigrating the integrity of the media actually invites others then to move in and attack media. So, in that process, public trust is lost, but journalists and media freedom are put into direct peril."

Khan said the emergence of digital technology has overshadowed every issue of her mandate in every aspect. On one hand, she said, it has been a great boom for human rights defenders, on the other there are issues of disinformation, misinformation. and surveillance that require action by the international community, but where there isn't consensus on a way forward.

The Special Rapporteur said the crisis of disinformation arose now because of the failure of social media platforms to manage their business model with a human rights approach.

She said, "Their business model is one that actually encourages disinformation and misinformation. So, in my report one of the main recommendations that I have put has been strong data protection by states and a review by companies of their business model, in addition to transparency. They need to be much more transparent about what they are doing, including with algorithms and so on."


Khan said she presented her first report to the General Assembly as the first woman to hold this mandate in the 27 years of its history. She said this was the first report that looks at gender equality, gender justice, and freedom of opinion and expression, focusing particularly on how women's voices are being suppressed by laws and practices of the state as well as social customs, traditions, interpretations of religion and growing fundamentalism and authoritarianism around the world.

The Special Rapporteur said states are the main bearers of human rights and as such they must take the issue of gender stereotyping, social pressures more seriously.

She hoped that states would apply peer pressure through the reporting systems available to see what is happening in terms of gender equality in the context of freedom of expression.

Khan said, "Gender equality in health, in education, in a lot of other areas gets attention. But freedom of expression is really the right that empowers and enables women to change the situation from their perspective. It is an empowering right, and it is one that does not get adequate attention, primarily because of fear. You know, the social forces of patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny are very much alive and are growing because of the political trends of authoritarianism, fundamentalism and so on. So, I think we need to be extremely vigilant, and we need to be very outspoken. Women are doing marvellous things, but the pressure on the other side is very high."

Khan also highlighted the relevance of freedom of expression for sustainable development and democracy. She said, "This particular right is not a monopoly of western countries. It actually matters for the whole world, and that is one of the issues that I am very keen to show its relevance to the sustainable development goals and to the 2030 agenda, and to the particular crisis of the pandemic."

Asked about the situation in Afghanistan, Khan said an appeal was made to set up a special fact-finding commission, but the Human Rights Council did not accept the proposal. However, she said a Special Rapporteur was appointed for Afghanistan and was given additional resources. Khan stressed that the issue of freedom of expression must stay on the agenda with the Taliban, adding that this would not be an easy issue.

She said, "Afghanistan had quite a vibrant independent media sector which has all but disappeared. Women journalists are not going to work. Male journalists who are going to work are - basically they have been chilled. They are self-censoring. So, it is a very, very dangerous situation. And in that kind of situation of course it is very hard to say that one can negotiate with the Taliban, but I would hope that those who are negotiating with the Taliban at the international level would keep in mind the importance of insisting on freedom of expression, particularly in relation to minorities, in relation to women, and in relation to the media."

Responding to a question on Belarus, Khan said it was outrageous that a Government had gone so far as to divert a flight, endanger all the passengers on board, and extract an individual criticizing that Government. She said, "There are so many human rights violations in that process that occurred, but most particularly, the message it sent was a terrible message, a chilling message for journalists and bloggers. They were not safe basically. If you were a Belarusian journalist, then you are not safe. the long arm of the state will go after you."

Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council and work on a voluntary basis. They are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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