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UN rapporteur arrives to check free speech in Philippines

The United Nations Special Rapporteur (UN SR) on freedom of opinion and expression arrived on Monday for an official country visit, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In a press release, the DFA said Irene Khan will be in the country from January 23 up to February 2, 2024 to "examine the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country through a series of diverse and cooperative dialogues."

"Her visit, spanning Metro Manila, Baguio City, and Cebu City, will focus on exploring 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," the agency said.

Khan will be attending meetings that were arranged by the arranged by the national government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She will be speaking with representatives from the DFA, Department of Justice, Presidential Task Force on Media Security, civil society, and private companies.

Khan, the DFA said, is expected to come up with a report that would be considered at the 59th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2025.

"In the spirit of openness and cooperation, the Philippine Government is giving its full support for the successful implementation of the UN SR’s mandate during her country visit. This visit underscores the Philippines' commitment to fostering a robust environment for freedom of expression and opinion, in alignment with global human rights principles," the DFA said.

According to the statement posted by the DFA, Khan has held her position as United Nations Special Rapporteur August 2020 and her mandate includes the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, both offline and online, in accordance with international human rights law and standards. — BAP, GMA Integrated News