UNITED NATIONS: Warning that the freedom of expression is under widespread assault, a new United Nations human rights report has found that governments worldwide are wielding the tools of censorship.
“Governments are treating words as weapons, adopting vague laws that give officials massive discretion to undermine speech and opinion,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, in a statement about his report, which was presented to the UN General Assembly in New York.
“The approach that many governments adopt towards freedom of expression today is abusive and unsustainable,” Kaye stressed. “Governments must not only reverse course, but also take the lead in ensuring its protection.”
“Censorship in all its forms reflects official fear of ideas and information,” the expert noted.
The report involved a survey of hundreds of official
communications Kaye has issued to governments, which resulted from allegations of violations of well-established international human rights law received from individuals and non-governmental organizations worldwide. The trend lines are stark, he said.
The Special Rapporteur drew attention to increasing instances where governments assert rationales having no basis in human rights law.
The report noted areas of positive developments as well.
The Special Rapporteur welcomed examples where governments, legislatures, and domestic and international courts have taken strong steps to promote freedom of expression or carefully evaluate restrictions.