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Human Rights Council 35th Session (6-23 June 2017)

Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

12 June 2017

Statement of Ireland

Ireland aligns itself with the EU statement and adds the following.

Mr President,

We welcome the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and thank him for his report today.

We further thank the SR for the reports on his visits to Japan, Turkey and Tajikistan. We are concerned at his finding that the situation for freedom of expression in Turkey is in grave crisis. We urge the Turkish Government to respect the role that civil society plays in strong and stable democratic societies.

We share the concerns of the Special Rapporteur regarding the increasing use by States on digital access industries in order to control, limit or monitor freedom of opinion and expression online including as part of efforts to suppress criticism, dissent and the work of human rights defenders.

The internet has profound value for the promotion of human rights and development and digital access providers can play an important role in allowing users to seek, receive and impart information, enabling the exercise of freedom of expression online. However, we share the Special Rapporteur’s assessment that in providing such services digital access providers, and other relevant stakeholders, have a responsibility to respect human rights and should be held accountable for any abuses

In this regard, we agree with the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to develop National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights as a useful tool to assist all relevant stakeholders in identifying and addressing their impact on human rights. Ireland will publish its first National Action Plan in the coming months.

We welcome with particular interest the report’s contents regarding the crucial importance of partnerships between Governments, corporate partners, and other stakeholders, including civil society actors, to ensure the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of expression. We call on States to enhance cooperation and collaborative actions with other stakeholders, including with civil society, in order to strengthen this right, both offline and online.

Special Rapporteur,

Could you provide an update on any best practices in place aimed at strengthening cross-sector collaboration, including with civil society, to strengthen the right to freedom of opinion and expression online?

Thank you