UN Human Rights Council – 20th Session
Australian Statement for the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right
to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions.
20 June 2012
Australia thanks the Special Rapporteurs for their reports and for their continuing commitment to the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. We are committed to guaranteeing every person’s right to freedom of opinion and expression and we welcome the Rapporteurs’ particular focus on the freedom of the media in their current reports.
Australia recognises and sends sympathies to the numerous victims of attacks against journalists around the world. We are aware of the dangerous environments in which journalists work and support efforts to ensure journalists’ personal safety as well as their enjoyment of their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
We also support policy work which recognises the unique role journalists play in the effective functioning of democracy. Free journalism is central to democracy, especially when journalists report on street protests and demonstrations or when reporting on politically sensitive issues such as human rights violations, corruption or public crises. For our own part, Australia has recently strengthened evidence laws to entrench a presumption that a journalist is not required to identify the source of their information.
We also acknowledge the link between combatting impunity and the protection of journalists which have broader positive ramifications for the general strengthening of law and justice systems, and we welcome the Special Rapporteurs’ comments in this regard. We also welcome the Special Rapporteurs’ comments regarding the importance of professional associations, independent of government, in strengthening journalistic ethics.
Australia would be interested in the Special Rapporteurs expanding on their views regarding justifiable limits to freedom of expression, in particular in regards to defamation and anti-terror laws. We would also be interested in the Special Rapporteurs’ observations about the changing nature of journalism, especially in the online world and the continuing emergence of citizen journalists.