United Nations - UN Human Rights Council turns special rapporteur on free expression into prosecutor

    MONTREAL, March 31 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
change to the mandate of the special rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression that was made by
the United Nations Human Rights Council at the end of its seventh session on
28 March. The rapporteur is now supposed to investigate abuses of the right of
freedom of expression.
    "As we have been repeating for the nearly two years since its creation,
the UN Human Rights Council is far from being up to the job it has been
given," the press freedom organisation said. "The change to the mandate of the
special rapporteur on free expression is dramatic. It turns someone who is
supposed to defend freedom of opinion into a prosecutor whose job is to go
after those who abuse this freedom.
    "There are other mechanisms for condemning racist attacks or defamation
by the media. It is not the rapporteur on free expression's job to do this. It
is like asking the rapporteur on freedom of religion to investigate human
rights abuses committed in the name of religion. Such reasoning is absurd.
    "The growing influence of Organisation of the Islamic Conference member
states within the Human Rights Council is disturbing. All of the council's
decisions are nowadays determined by the interests of the Muslim countries or
powerful states such as China or Russia that know how to surround themselves
with allies. The UN secretary-general should intervene as quickly as
    "The mandates of the special rapporteurs on Cuba and Belarus, two of the
world's worst press freedom predators, were not renewed in May 2007,"
Reporters Without Borders continued. "Last week it was Democratic Republic of
Congo's turn to get rid of its special human rights rapporteur. It is
deplorable that these countries, in which serious human rights violations are
committed every day, are no longer subject to closing monitoring and criticism
by the UN."
    The change to the special rapporteur on free expression's mandate was
approved by 32 of the UN Human Rights Council's 47 member states. Those that
opposed the change included EU member states, Canada, Switzerland and some
Latin American countries.

For further information:

For further information: Hélène Fargues, Reporters Without Borders
Canada, (514) 521-4111

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