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Special Rapporteur Khan arrives, starts 12-day tour of PH

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United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan arrived in Manila for a 12-day visit on the invitation of the Philippine government.

Khan landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 onboard flight MH806 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia around 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expressed confidence that her visit would be an opportunity for her to “appreciate the well-rooted and flourishing democracy of the Philippines, as the oldest democratic Republic in Asia, as seen in [its] vibrant media landscape and civic space.”

Khan earlier voiced concerns about press freedom in the Philippines.

In a statement, the DFA said the government is confident that through dialogues and meetings with civil society organizations and other stakeholders, Khan would see for herself the “transparency and progressive agenda” of the government relating to the promotion of free speech.

“This visit signifies the open, sustained, and sincere cooperation of the Philippine government with bilateral and regional partners and the UN, on many fronts, where the country promotes its human rights-based development agenda and good governance as well as its contributions in strengthening global norms to uphold human rights and dignity,” the DFA said.

Khan has served as UNSR on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since Aug. 1, 2020. She is the first woman to hold this position since the establishment of the mandate in 1993.

The National Privacy Commission said Khan’s visit is an opportunity to discuss the relationship between the right to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression as aspects of a “vibrant” democracy.

In a statement over the weekend, the NPC said challenges surrounding privacy and freedom of expression also evolve with technology.

“The NPC is dedicated to addressing these challenges through collaborative efforts and constructive dialogues, developing initiatives and policies that strike a balance between protecting personal information while ensuring the free flow of information,” the statement read.

Commissioner John Henry Naga would present the commission’s initiatives and accomplishments in advocating for freedom of expression while protecting the right to privacy.

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