The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has released the names of shortlisted candidates for the position of Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. A Nigerian lawyer, Mr. Kingdom Nnamdi Okere is among the candidates. Further decisions on the shortlisted candidates are to be made in June 2014.
Okere, a lawyer is a Human Rights Activist and the Founder and Director of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International, a non-governmental organization that provides free legal services to the oppressed masses of Nigeria. He practices investigative reporting on Human Rights and is also a publisher of the Imo Youth Magazine. He has taken up several public interest litigations, one of which was the eradication of the osu caste system in the south east of Nigeria.
Prior to founding his organization, Okere was the Director of Millennium Peoples Right Defence (MPRD), a non-governmental organization registered with Lagos State Aids Control Agency. During his time with MPRD, he participated actively in the drafting of the anti-stigmatization bill against persons living with HIV/AIDS. He has a Degree in Law, a diploma in Journalism, an Masters Degree in Law and a BL from the Nigerian Law School.
The duration for the position is three years. The UNHRC mandates the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression to carry out the following duties:
- To gather all relevant information, wherever it may occur, relating to violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, discrimination against, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution or intimidation directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including, as a matter of high priority, against journalists or other professionals in the field of information;
- To seek, receive and respond to credible and reliable information from Governments, non-governmental organizations and any other parties who have knowledge of these cases;
- To make recommendations and provide suggestions on ways and means to better promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression in all its manifestations;
- To contribute to the provision of technical assistance or advisory services by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to better promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The Special Rapporteur is also required:
- To draw the attention of the Council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to those situations and cases regarding the right to freedom of opinion and expression which are of particularly serious concern;
- To integrate the human rights of women and a gender perspective throughout the work of his/her mandate;
- With a view to greater efficiency and effectiveness in promoting and protecting the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to continue his/her efforts to cooperate with other relevant United Nations bodies, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the human rights treaty bodies, special procedures and mechanisms, specialized agencies, funds and programmes, regional intergovernmental organizations and their mechanisms, and national human rights institutions, and to develop and extend his/her network of relevant non-governmental organizations, particularly at the local level;
- To report on instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination, taking into account articles 19 (3) and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and general comment No. 15 of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which stipulates that the prohibition of the dissemination of all ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with the freedom of opinion and expression;
- To consider approaches taken to access to information with a view to sharing best practices;
- To continue to provide his/her views, when appropriate, on the advantages and challenges of new information and communication technologies, including the Internet and mobile technologies, for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and the relevance of a wide diversity of sources, as well as access to the information society for all.
Twenty-one (21) candidates were shortlisted for this position fromNicaragua, United States of America, Niger, India, Algeria, Iran, Azerbaijan, Italy, Brazil, Ireland, Romania, Thailand, Russia, Senegal and United Kingdom.
Mr. Frank La Rue, the outgoing Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression has held the position since 2008 and has been involved in the promotion of human rights for over 25 years. Appointments will be made at the Council’s 26th Regular Session, HRC26 scheduled for June 10-27, 2014.