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Liberia: UN human rights expert starts official visit to assess freedom of expression

GENEVA (5 March 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, is carrying out his first official visit to Liberia this week to assess the situation of freedom of expression and access to information in the country.

“This visit will help me identify Liberia’s current challenges and suggest law and policy changes that will strengthen the right to freedom of expression,” said Kaye.

“The constitution strongly protects freedom of expression, but there is a recognition that the legal and institutional frameworks need to be reformed for this guarantee to be meaningful in practice, both for individuals and the media,” he said, welcoming the commitment to freedom of expression made by President George Weah in his inaugural address in January.

“I look forward to engaging with lawmakers in Liberia in their work towards strengthening the legal framework,” Kaye added.

The Special Rapporteur said the low percentage of Liberians with internet access also needed to be addressed.

“An internet penetration rate of 8.4%, coupled with high costs, effectively means that the majority of Liberians are deprived of a fundamental channel of information. This is a challenge that requires a strong effort by the Government and the private sector, as well as by the international community,” he said.

The expert, whose visit is at the invitation of the Government of Liberia, will meet legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as journalists, other media representatives and civil society groups.

The Special Rapporteur will host a press conference to share his preliminary findings on 9 March 2018, at 12:00 local time in Monrovia. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

Kaye’s final report containing his findings and recommendations will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2019.

ENDS

Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

As a UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Kaye is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights country page - Liberia

For additional information please contact:
In Liberia (during the visit): Ms. Azin Tadjdini (atadjdini@ohchr.org/ + 41 79 444 4355)
In Geneva (after the visit): Ms. Azin Tadjdini (atadjdini@ohchr.org/ + 41 22 917 9400)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversaryof the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.