On 29 February 2012, the Human Rights Council will convene an expert panel in Geneva to discuss the issue of freedom of expression on the internet. Drawing on recommendations from the report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, the panel will focus on ways to promote and protect freedom of expression online in accordance with international human rights law.
Proposed by the Swedish government last September, the panel was officially adopted as part of Decision 18/27 during the 18th Session of the Human Rights Council — a resolution that was immediately supported by more than 50 countries.
Panellists will include Carlos Afonso from Nupef in Brazil and APC’s executive director Anriette Esterhuysen. The panel will be moderated by Mr. Riz Khan of Al-Jazeera News Agency. As part of a multistakeholder dialogue, inputs and questions will be sought from the floor and Member States, international organisations and civil society representatives are encouraged to engage in the debate.
The significance of this panel is its explicit use of the principle that human rights, in their full scope and capacity, apply to the internet, making a crucial connection between internet activists and human rights defenders.
From Tahrir Square to Wall Street, activists have demonstrated the importance of the internet as a tool for social justice. Thus, it is of crucial importance that this valuable resource be protected and that freedom of expression be respected online. APC encourages the panel to offer concrete recommendations with which stakeholders can lobby their respective governments.