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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION AND FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSOCIATION AND OF ASSEMBLY

Concludes Interactive Dialogue with Mandate Holders on the Human Rights of Migrants and on Human Rights and International Solidarity
26 June 2019

The Human Rights Council this morning held a clustered interactive dialogue with David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, and with Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive discussion with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity.

Mr. Kaye said the overall picture for freedom of opinion and expression over the past year had been grim and recalled the obligations of States, in restricting expression, to always meet the test of legality, necessity and proportionality, and legitimacy of objective. Turning to his thematic report on the private surveillance industry and human rights, he noted that the world was witnessing a surveillance free for all, an environment in which States and industry were essentially collaborating on the spread of technology that was causing immediate and regular harm to individuals worldwide, in particular those that were essential to democratic life - journalists, defenders, opposition figures, lawyers, and others. Mr. Kaye called for an immediate moratorium on the global sale, transfer and use of the tools of the private surveillance industry until rigorous human right safeguards were put in place. He also presented a report from his visit to Ecuador.

Mr. Nyaletsossi Voule remarked that the digital revolution had considerably strengthened the ability of people and civil society groups to organize and mobilize, but had also brought about several risks and threats. The measures adopted by States to unduly restrict and control access to digital tools, such as laws criminalizing the legitimate exercise of the right to peaceful online assembly and association, or Internet blackouts during elections and public protests, had become a worldwide, dangerous trend and were of particular concern. States should create a legal and institutional framework conducive to the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and association in the digital age, while digital technology companies should respect the freedom of assembly and association, and show real diligence in making sure they did not become accomplices of violations of such freedoms. Mr. Nyaletsossi Voule then introduced reports from his visits to Tunisia and Armenia.

Speaking as concerned countries were Ecuador, Armenia and Tunisia. Defensor del Pueblo of Ecuador addressed the Council in a video statement.

In the ensuring discussion on freedom of opinion and expression, delegations reminded that unlawful or arbitrary surveillance and interception of communications were highly intrusive acts and reiterated the legal duty of States to safeguard the freedom of opinion and expression, including by ensuring that the legislation and procedures regarding surveillance of communications and the interception and collection of personal data were based on the rule of law, subject to independent and effective domestic oversight mechanisms, and upheld obligations under international human rights law, including the principles of proportionality and necessity. Business enterprises, particularly the private surveillance industry, should meet their responsibility to respect human rights in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

On the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, speakers said that the digital age had indeed opened new space for the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and other rights, but also had the potential to create challenges, risks and even threats. Emerging trends in State actions to control and impede access to and use of digital technologies to limit fundamental freedoms and the shrinking of civil society space were extremely worrying to some delegations. In particular, targeted surveillance of journalists, civil society, opposition figures, and other individuals exercising their right to freedom of expression was denounced. The same human rights that people had offline must be protected online, some delegations stressed, while others underlined that the discussion on rights online must go hand in hand with a discussion on the responsibilities of all stakeholders.

Taking the floor in the discussion were European Union; Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries); Angola (on behalf of the African Group); Estonia (on behalf of a group of countries) ; Costa Rica (on behalf of a group of countries); Canada; Brazil; Russian Federation; UN Women; Pakistan; Lithuania; Tunisia; India; Australia; State of Palestine; Cuba; Burkina Faso; Czech Republic; Algeria; Israel; Japan; Montenegro; Venezuela; Germany; Egypt; Maldives; Jordan; Netherlands; France; Saudi Arabia; Republic of Korea; Malta; South Africa; Bahrain; Myanmar; Botswana; Latvia; Iraq; ; Afghanistan; Chile; Bolivia; Switzerland; Colombia; China; Iran; Belgium; Luxembourg; United Kingdom ; Nepal; Austria; Nigeria; Ukraine; Ireland; Albania; Turkey; Greece; Cameroon; Viet Nam; United Republic of Tanzania; Indonesia; Ecuador; Cyprus;

The non-governmental organizations that spoke were Christian Solidarity Worldwide (in a joint statement with International Service for Human Rights; Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights; and CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation); Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc; World Organisation Against Torture; Article 19 - International Centre against Censorship, The (in a joint statement with Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development); Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights; Mexican Commission of Defense and Promotion of the Human Rights; American Association of Jurists; Human Rights House Foundation; American Civil Liberties Union; International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (in a joint statement with Article 19 - International Centre against Censorship, The); Peace Brigades International Switzerland; Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; Association for Progressive Communications; Human Rights Now; and Shivi Development Society.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded the clustered interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants and on human rights and international solidarity that it started on 25 June.

In concluding remarks, Obiora Okafor, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, recommended that all States included exclusive exceptions to expression of solidarity towards migrants that arrived through irregular means. Felipe Gonzalez Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, delivered his concluding remarks yesterday.

Speaking in the interactive debate were Azerbaijan; Bahamas; Colombia; China; Iran (islamic rep. Of); Luxembourg; Nepal; Nigeria; Bangladesh; Senegal; Lesotho; Cameroon; Cyprus; El Salvador; Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions; Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII (in a joint statement with several NGOs1); Franciscans International; Friends World Committee for Consultation ; Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) Asociación Civil (in a joint statement with Amnesty International); Human Rights Law Centre; International Federation Terre des Hommes; International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development – VIDES (in a joint statement with Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco); International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Ingenieurs du Monde; Mexican Commission of Defense and Promotion of the Human Rights; Action Canada for Population and Development; World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations; International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW); and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc.

The Human Rights Council will next hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Continuation of Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and the Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity

Speakers acknowledged the need for a holistic, rights-based, gender-responsive and child-sensitive approach to migration. Pointing out that the number of female migrants had doubled between 1960 and 2015, they called for the eradication of practices that diminished migrant women’s dignity. Women and girls sometimes faced discrimination at both the beginning and the end of their migration routes. And yet, these routes nevertheless provided them with significant social and economic development opportunities. While immigrants played an important role in fostering people-to-people economic exchanges, measures should be taken to turn off the valve of massive refugee movements, some said. Others warned against the threat posed by extremists, including far-right groups, and discrimination against certain communities, such as Muslims immigrants.

On international solidarity, speakers underscored its importance to guarantee international peace and security. They stressed that rendering humanitarian assistance to migrants should not be criminalized but rather encouraged. International solidarity should aim to build upon the stability of States and should extend to migrants in their country of origin.

Non-governmental organizations drew the Human Rights Council’s attention to a variety of issues related to international solidarity and migration, notably the need to ensure access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive care; toxic campaigns aimed at delegitimizing humanitarian activities despite the imperative to save those who risked dying at sea; countries that presented themselves as human rights champions while implementing policies of pushback and criminalization of solidarity; the ongoing crisis in Mexico and Central America, where migration policies had stiffened, causing migrants to take more dangerous routes; the physical and mental suffering of people detained on Manus Island and Nauru by the Australian Government; and the impact of racism on migrations policies, including those affecting migrant domestic workers.

Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity

OBIORA OKAFOR, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, said he was grateful for the reaffirmation by several speakers of the importance of international solidarity, notably as pertained to migration. He recommended that all States included exclusive exceptions to expression of solidarity towards migrants that arrived through irregular means. States should avoid overbroad clauses in legislation dealing with smuggling. In that regard, they should include specific exemption clauses rather than rely on courts to interpret the law. States should also address the suppression of solidarity by civil society in their respective countries. The Council should take steps to encourage States to implement the recommendations outlined in his report, Mr. Okafor concluded.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression and on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/41/35) Advanced Edited Version A/HRC/41/35).

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – visit to Ecuador (A/HRC/41/35/Add.1).

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – Follow-up on country visits (A/HRC/41/35/Add.2).

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – Overview of submissions received in preparation of A/HRC/41/35 (A/HRC/41/35/Add.3).

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – Summary of an Experts consultation (A/HRC/41/35/Add.4).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (A/HRC/41/41).

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – Observations on communications transmitted to Governments and replies received (A/HRC/41/41/Add.1)

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – Civil society participation in the implementation of Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development (A/HRC/41/41/Add.2)

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – visit to Tunisia (A/HRC/41/41/Add.3)

The Council has before an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association – visit to Armenia (A/HRC/41/41/Add.4).

Presentation of Reports by the Special Rapporteurs on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression and on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

DAVID KAYE, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said the overall picture for freedom of opinion and expression over the past year had been grim. While States faced pressures and operated in an environment of rapid and disorienting technological change, they had to be mindful of the obligations encapsulated by article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. States, in restricting expression in accordance with article 19, must always meet the test of legality, necessity and proportionality, and legitimacy of objective. Restrictions must be narrowly drawn and clearly defined, not open-ended proscriptions of vaguely defined “harmful” speech. Turning to his thematic report on the private surveillance industry and human rights, he noted that the world was witnessing a surveillance free for all, that was an environment in which States and industry were essentially collaborating on the spread of technology that was causing immediate and regular harm to individuals worldwide, in particular those that were essential to democratic life - journalists, defenders, opposition figures, lawyers, and others. He called for an immediate moratorium on the global sale, transfer and use of the tools of the private surveillance industry until rigorous human right safeguards were put in place.

On his visit to Ecuador from 5 to 11 October, the Special Rapporteur expressed gratitude for the support provided by the Government as well as the willingness of members of civil society to share their views on the situation in their country. Mr. Kaye said that he and Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, agreed that over the past decade, the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression had regressed in the country. Ecuador had stigmatized and persecuted journalists, undermined independent civil society organizations, and limited access to information, treating freedom of expression as a privilege rather than an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights law. Acknowledging that the Government had taken steps to put an end to these violations, he stressed that this also required revisions of laws and regulations. Mr. Kaye underlined that he had submitted a follow up report that analyzed the implementation of key recommendations in the mandate’s visits to Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Japan and Turkey, hoping that they could be a vehicle for further and deeper engagement with States in the future.

CLÉMENT NYALETSOSSI VOULE, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said his report was the result of a process of vast consultations held throughout the world – nine countries were consulted. Technologies had considerably strengthened the ability of people and civil society groups to organize and mobilize, promote human rights and innovate to contribute to society’s evolution, he remarked, citing the #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #FeesMustFall and #ClimateStrikes movements, amongst others. The digital revolution had also brought about several risks and threats. He expressed concerns about the measures adopted by States to unduly restrict and control access to digital tools, such as laws criminalizing the legitimate exercise of the right to peaceful online assembly and association. Internet blackouts during elections and public protests were also a source of concern with which the report dealt. This had become a worldwide, dangerous trend. While these shutdowns were often imposed for national security and public order reasons, they constituted a disproportionate and generally inefficient means of fulfilling legitimate objectives. Mr. Nyaletsossi Voule encouraged States to create a legal and institutional framework conducive to the exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age. He called on digital technology companies to respect the freedom of assembly and of association, and show real diligence in making sure they did not become accomplices of violations of such freedoms.

Turning to country visits, he thanked Tunisia and Armenia for their full cooperation. Tunisia had made important democratic advances. However, to avoid a backtracking and safeguard achievements, political and institutional cohesion should be reinforced, in line with the aspirations outlined in the 2014 Constitution. As regards freedom of assembly in Tunisia, he expressed concerns about arbitrary arrests and the disproportionate use of force during the January 2018 protests against austerity policies. As for Armenia, he encouraged the Government to give priority to his recommendations that touched on strengthening the judiciary system; the independent oversight of the police; and the fight against discrimination. Armenia should make sure that there were no discriminatory laws nor any discrimination in the application of current laws pertaining to the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Ecuador, speaking as a concerned country, said that the visit by the Special Rapporteur had occurred during a transition in Ecuador and that he had enjoyed full freedom and independence during his mission. The Special Rapporteur had noted a real shift in terms of the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression, which entailed concrete measures to guarantee the enjoyment of this right. The critical situation during the previous regime had led many States during the Universal Periodic Review in May 2017 to recommend that Ecuador repeal or significantly amend the Organic Communication Law and to close the Telecommunication Supervisory Body.

Defensor del Pueblo (Office of the Ombudsmen) of Ecuador, in a video statement, recognized the need to harmonize the legal framework in Ecuador with international law governing the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, especially for indigenous peoples in Ecuador. Furthermore, the Organic Law on Transparency must be revised in order to take democracy further and the Government must provide full reparation to those who had suffered oppression because they had expressed their opinion, especially the families of murdered journalists.

Armenia, speaking as a concerned country, agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association that Armenia was at a critical juncture, that non-violent transition was possible, and that Armenia had proven that a wide range of civil society actors could play a fundamental role in maintaining such a transition. It was necessary to seize the moment and take all necessary steps to cement the progress achieved and make it irreversible. Armenia held that there should be no impunity for human rights violations and recognized the need to deepen the trust of its people in law enforcement, particularly in the wake of the velvet revolution. Addressing the concern raised in relation to public rallies over environmental issues, Armenia said it stood ready to discuss all relevant issues in a public, open, and transparent manner.

Tunisia, speaking as a concerned country, said that the visit by the special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of association and of assembly had been in response to an invitation by the Government to strengthen human rights institutions in the country. Tunisia’s Constitution guaranteed the right to establish parties and associations, and the right to strike and to peaceful assembly and of association, which was a recognition of the important role of civil society in societal and economic transformations. Tunisia reiterated the importance of the role of civil society as a crucial factor in the revolutionary movement and in the transition to democracy, and it had been at the forefront of the political and social transformation and in the strengthening of human rights in general.

In response to the appeal by the Special Rapporteur to complete the constitutional construction, Tunisia said that it had promulgated the law on the national human rights institution in October 2018 and had established the auditor’s institution in 2019.

Interactive Dialogue

Concerning the freedom of opinion and expression, speakers reiterated the legal duty of States to safeguard the freedom of opinion and expression. They stressed the importance of ensuring that the legislation and procedures regarding the surveillance of communications and the interception and collection of personal data were based on the rule of law, were subject to independent and effective domestic oversight mechanisms, and upheld obligations under international human rights law, including the principles of proportionality and necessity. Unlawful or arbitrary surveillance and interception of communications were highly intrusive acts. That was why the surveillance of digital communications must be consistent with international human rights obligations and conducted with prior legal authorization, while the legal framework must be publicly accessible, clear, precise, comprehensive, and non-discriminatory. Business enterprises, particularly the

private surveillance industry, should meet their responsibility to respect human rights in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Taking good note of the proposed mechanism to control the purchase and use of surveillance technologies, several speakers asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the legal and policy framework to regulate the surveillance industry and to explain how such mechanisms could most effectively monitor human rights abuses facilitated by digital surveillance. A speaker remarked that the issues in Mr. Kaye’s report did not have a connection to his mandate and with regards to the proposed moratorium on the global sale and transfer of private surveillance industry tools until rigorous human rights safeguards were in place, wondered who would be the arbiter that decided on when the “adequate conditions” had been reached.

Concerning the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, speakers said that the digital age had indeed opened new space for the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, while new technologies were being increasingly used to find innovative solutions to the many challenges facing societies and contributed to the increased participation in public life. Digital technologies thus brought remarkable opportunities to enhance the enjoyment of rights but also had the potential to create challenges, risks and even threats. In this context, emerging trends in State actions to control and impede access to and use of digital technologies to limit fundamental freedoms and the shrinking of civil society space were extremely worrying to some delegations. In particular, targeted surveillance of journalists, civil society, opposition figures, and other individuals exercising their right to freedom of expression was denounced. The same human rights that people had offline must be protected online, some delegations stressed, while others underlined that the discussion on rights online must go hand in hand with a discussion on the responsibilities of all stakeholders. How could States and digital technology companies increase the quality of participation and multi-stakeholder approach while respecting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age, delegations asked, and requested the Special Rapporteur to provide some positive examples in this regard.

In comments referring to the mandates of both Special Rapporteurs, speakers noted that because of the many loopholes in the current global framework for Internet governance, it was necessary to find the right balance between the protection of the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and privacy on the one hand and on the other, the legitimate concern of States related to terrorism, extremism, hate speech, incitement to violence, harassment, and disinformation. While recognizing the relevance of the rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly, a speaker stressed that the human right to use information and communication technology was not absolute – it must take into account the right of users but also the interest of the society and the State, which called for certain restrictions in the enjoyment of those rights. It was a two-way street in which both States and users had responsibilities, the delegation stressed. Another added that although human rights were integral, it was not possible to ignore the fact that national security was one of the most important aspects towards the full enjoyment of life.

Several speakers insisted on the need for impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, and non-politicization, as well as the need to avoid duplication in the work of Special Procedure mandate holders of the Human Rights Council. Issuing value judgements on States obstructed constructive dialogue for the promotion of human rights and this should be avoided. At the same time, many delegations raised their concern about the deepening crisis for freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly worldwide, both online and offline, and underlined the critical role of the two Special Rapporteurs in addressing often complicated aspects of those rights in the digital space. These independent human rights experts were also crucial for the protection of journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, and political opposition, who were facing increased repression.

Interim Remarks

DAVID KAYE, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, stressed the importance of meeting not only the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures, but also the requirements that the Human Rights Council had established for each mandate. Indeed, there were intersections and overlaps between some mandates – this led the mandate holders to cooperate and collaborate and build on each other’s work rather than to duplicate. National security and maintenance of public order were indeed legitimate objectives of States, which under international human rights law had an obligation to demonstrate the legality, necessity, and proportionality of any particular action to pursue those particular objectives. In this regard, the report provided specific guidance, Mr. Kaye said, including on legal frameworks to regulate and monitor the purchase and export of surveillance technology.

States participating in the Wasseanar Agreement should develop frameworks under which the purchase of surveillance technology must be regulated by national human rights laws and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights. Private surveillance companies should integrate human rights due diligence processes from the early stages of product design and development. This entailed human rights impact assessment, regular consultations with civil society, and regular and robust reporting on human rights impact. Companies should put in place safeguards to ensure that the use of products they designed, produced, and sold could not be used for human rights violations and abuses. When they detected misuses of their products and services to commit human rights abuses, they must report them to relevant international and national bodies. Mr. Kaye recognized that the spread and use of technology was a cross-border phenomenon and thus difficult to regulate, and urged States to establish domestic structures to enable users to seek redress.

CLÉMENT NYALETSOSSI VOULE, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, took note with appreciation of the efforts of Armenia and Tunisia to implement his recommendations and reiterated the availability of his mandate to support them in this endeavour. His thematic report aimed to show the opportunities of digital space; the Internet already played a primordial role in everyday life and it was essential for States to preserve this space as a forum in which peaceful assembly and association took place. States should recognize that cyberspace was a space in which human rights were exercised and ensure that the laws they adopted did not limit and undermine those rights. The Special Rapporteur was concerned about vagueness that often prevailed in the definition of cybercrimes, which although targeted at criminals, often had a limiting and restrictive effect on civil society operating in cyberspace and working towards the social and economic development of their countries.

Mr. Nyaletsossi Voule reiterated that human rights offline equally applied online and reminded States that restrictions imposed in the digital space were tantamount to the restriction of human rights. Internet shutdowns undermined human rights and often backfired; they seldom attained the purpose for which they were designed, such as to fight terrorism. The Special Rapporteur said that States must ensure accountability and compliance of companies with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights, and that those obligations applied to digital companies in particular.

Interactive Dialogue

Speakers said that they shared the concerns expressed by the Special Rapporteurs. It was regrettable that, as rightfully put in the report, the surveillance of individuals could result in arbitrary detentions, torture and even extrajudicial killings. What practical steps could States take to create a safe and enabling digital environment that was conducive to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression?

Non-governmental organizations raised various issues of concern, including the enactment of draconian policies giving broad leeway to officials to further restrict the right to free expression in Bahrain; crackdowns against protesters in various countries, including Togo, Honduras and Cameroon; the use of surveillance technologies, specifically the spyware Pegasus, by the Government of Saudi Arabia to extend its “authoritarian grip” beyond its territorial borders; the alarming increase in violence against journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico; the regressive conduct of Gaza’s local authorities, who promoted a culture of intolerance toward divergent views; the systematic violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in Western Sahara; efforts to curtail peaceful assembly online; and the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.

Concluding Remarks

DAVID KAYE, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, thanked the civil society organizations that had provided him with rigorous and innovative research. They deserved additional support, protection and resources. The continued use of commercial spyware without safeguards was harming rights and the rule of law, and that was why he was calling for a moratorium on their use, transfer and sale. The Council should reinforce its past resolutions with specific support for the steps outlined in his report. The situation of freedom of expression was quite grim, he stated, urging those present to look at his past report on content generation and artificial intelligence. The greatest threat to freedom of expression was posed by States. While there were smart tools to regulate cyberspace and room for the inclusion of courts in that process, it was essential to avoid broad restrictions on speech.

CLÉMENT NYALETSOSSI VOULE, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, thanked the civil society organizations that had provided him with information for their enormous and invaluable contribution to the drafting of his report. He assured civil society organizations present in the room that the cases referred to during the interactive dialogue had to be broached with States. States should avoid any recourse to force -- even when they thought that demonstrators had not respected the rules.
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1Joint statement on behalf of: Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII; International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations; VIVAT International; Teresian Association; International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education (OIDEL); International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development - VIDES; Passionists International; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco; and World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations.


For use of the information media; not an official record
HRC19.065E