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IPU Assembly: ARTICLE 19 welcomes resolution on freedom of expression and right to information

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 20 May 2009 - ARTICLE 19 welcomes the resolution on Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information adopted by the 120th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 5-10 April 2009.

ARTICLE 19 congratulates parliamentarians for taking this step towards recognising the key role that parliaments around the world can play towards protecting freedom of expression and the right to information. The resolution, which was adopted by consensus on 10 April 2009, comes at crucial time when there are heightened challenges to, and express attacks upon, freedom of expression and the right to information internationally.

ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Dr Agnès Callamard comments: "This stand by the IPU and parliamentarians must be commended, at a time when too many governments are shying away from their human rights responsibilities and adopting laws, policies, or resolutions which stifle free expression and the free flow of information."

ARTICLE 19 particularly welcomes provisions of the resolution which:

- reinforce that "freedom of expression and access to information are fundamental to a democratic society" (Articles 1, 20) and recall "efforts of international institutions" aimed at protecting these rights (Article 4);

- "encourage those parliaments that have not already done so to enact freedom of information legislation at the earliest opportunity, and underscore the need for parliaments of States that already have such a legal framework in place to ensure that it is implemented effectively" (Article 5);

- "condemn restrictions imposed on, violence suffered by, victimisation and even assassination of members of parliament, journalists and other opinion shapers in exercising their right to freedom of expression" (Article 9);

- express concern about the concentration of media ownership (Article 12); promote plurality and diversity of media (Articles 12-16);

- elaborate on the steps parliaments can take to promote freedom of expression and the right to information through participating in international dialogue on internet governance, ensuring education in information and communication technologies and taking effective measures to narrow the digital divide (Articles 18, 19, 21);

- "encourage the development of freedom of information beyond State actors to encompass significant private-sector companies and bodies" (Article 23);

- "stress that, in public administration, the basic principle should be in favour of transparency" (Article 25).

Callamard adds: "ARTICLE 19 calls on parliaments around the world to implement these provisions. We also urge governments to take model on this resolution, including in the forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Council next month and adopt similarly positive inter-governmental resolutions protecting freedom of expression."

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