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UN expert on freedom of expression to visit the Republic of Korea, fifteen years after his predecessor

3 May 2010

GENEVA – UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue will launch a fact-finding mission to the Republic of Korea from 6 to 17 May 2010, in what will be the first visit to the country in fifteen years by a UN envoy mandated to monitor the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

“It will be a good opportunity to assess the progress in enhancing the right to freedom of expression in the Republic of Korea fifteen years since my predecessor visited the country, particularly in the current context where the use of the Internet has become widespread,” said Mr. La Rue, noting that the first visit by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression was to the Republic of Korea in 1995.

“During my mission, I will gather first-hand information on the situation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of the media, and the related right to freedom of assembly and association,” said the independent expert. He added that the main purpose of the mission is to “contribute, through collaborative engagement with the Government, on ways and means of better enhancing the enjoyment of the rights related to my mandate in the country.”

The Special Rapporteur’s mission will take him to the cities of Seoul and Gwang-ju. Mr. La Rue, who will visit the country at the invitation of the Government, will meet with representatives of national and local authorities, and with members of the legislative and judicial branches. He will also hold discussions with non-governmental organizations, journalists and press organizations, and other organizations and individuals working in areas related to his mandate.

The Special Rapporteur will submit to the Human Rights Council in 2011 a final report on his visit to the Republic of Korea.

A press conference will be held at 14h30 on 17 May 2010 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Seoul (18F, Korea Press Center Building, Taepyongno-1Ga, Jung-Gu, Seoul).

ENDS

Frank La Rue was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. The UN first decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine questions relevant to the right to freedom of opinion and expression in 1993. The mandate, since reviewed and extended in 2008, involves reporting annually to the Human Rights Council on issues related to freedom of opinion and expression.

For further information on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, please visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm