Special Rapporteur Calls on Governments to Respect the Right to Freedom of Expression

0
18
Commissioner Lawrence Mute, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa,
Commissioner Lawrence Mute,
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa,

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Lawrence Mute, has called on State Parties The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Lawrence Mute, has called on State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to take steps to promote and respect the guarantees of the right to freedom of expression to take steps to promote and respect the guarantees of the right to freedom of expression.

To this end, the Special Rapporteur who is also the Vice-Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) urged African governments  to, among other things, repeal any laws that restrict freedom of expression and access to information; protect journalists and media practitioners and to investigate attacks on journalists in accordance with Resolution ACHPR/Res.185 (XLIX)11 on the Safety of Journalists and Media Practitioners in Africa; and adopt access to information legislation in line with the standards elaborated in the Model Law on Access to Information in Africa, and put mechanisms in place to ensure their effective implementation.

Commissioner Mute also called on them to refrain from internet shutdowns and slow-downs; and recognise that access to the internet is fundamental to exercise of the right to access information, and set up open data portals and e-government services and provide universal access by zero-rating government information on the internet.

He also recommended that they ratify and implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa that has specific provision on freedom of expression and access to information as well as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, which promotes the right to access to information for the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print-disabled individuals.

These calls are the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur at the Inter-session Activity Report presented to the 63rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, held in Banjul, the Gambia, from October 24 to November 13, 2018.

The Report was prepared pursuant to Rules 23(3) and 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘Commission’ or ‘African Commission’), which requires each of the Commission’s subsidiary mechanisms to present a report on their works at each Ordinary Session, and each Commissioner to submit a report on activities undertaken during the inter-session.

It includes the Rapporteur’s inter-sessional activities and an assessment of the situation on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa from January to October 2018.

On his inter-sessional activities, Commissioner Mute presented the activities he undertook as the Vice-Chairperson of the Commission, and as Special Rapporteur while the section on the Situation on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa focuses, as it says, on the situation of freedom of expression and access to information in Africa from January to October 2018.

The section on Situation on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa explored criminalisation of defamation and insult, media rights, safety of journalists, media shutdowns, Internet shutdowns and overly stringent regulation of the internet, Access to Information, and recommendations on his findings to State parties to the ACHPR.