The mission of the Special Rapporteur is to gather relevant information relating to violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, discrimination against, threats or use of violence, harassment, persecution or intimidation directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including, as a matter of high priority, against journalists or other professionals in the field of information; seek, receive and respond to credible and reliable information from Governments, non-governmental organizations and any other parties who have knowledge of these cases; to make recommendations and provide suggestions on ways and means to better promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression in all its manifestations; and to contribute to the provision of technical assistance or advisory services by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to better promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur comprises 3 parts :
a)Transmitting urgent appeals and letters of allegation Member States on alleged violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Special Rapporteur work is based on credible and reliable information received from governments, non-governmental organizations and any other parties who have knowledge of pertinent situations and cases. The transmission of allegations is part of the establishment of a dialogue with governments and does not imply any kind of accusation or value judgment on the part of the Special Rapporteur. Rather, the letters of allegation constitute requests for clarification with a view to trying to ensure, along with the government concerned, the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The Special Rapporteur is particularly interested in receiving information on problems and violations related to:
Detention of, discrimination against, or threats or use of violence and harassment, including persecution and intimidation, directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including professionals in the field of information;
Activities of political opposition parties and trade union activists, whether a group or an individual;
Actions against the media (print and broadcast) or impediments to their independent operation;
Actions against publishers and performers in other media, including books, magazines, film and theatre and the studio arts;
Activities of human rights defenders (e.g. lawyers, community activists);
Women's human rights, within the context of obstacles - including laws and practices - which impede the right of women to express their views and be heard, participate in the decision-making process, have equal standing before the law, and seek and receive information on matters of particular relevance to them such as family planning and violence against women;
Obstacles to access to information at the local, regional and national levels on projects and initiatives proposed by the Government to advance the right to development and obstacles to participation in the decision-making process, as well as obstacles to access to information on other subjects such as environmental and health impact studies, national budgets, social spending, industrial development projects and trade policies.
Urgent appeals will be transmitted to government upon receiving credible information on concrete incidents and individual cases related to the infringement of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. When an urgent appeal is transmitted, the Government concerned is requested to provide comments and observations on the matter to the Special Rapporteur.
Allegation letters relating to violations that already occurred and/or to general patterns of violations – including the legal framework and its application as regards the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to seek and receive information – will be transmitted to Governments that will be requested to provide clarification.
b)Undertaking country visits: the Special Rapporteur will undertake on-site visits in order to assess in greater detail the state of protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and, where appropriate, to make recommendations for its improvement.
c)Submitting annual reports: the Special Rapporteur will transmit reports covering activities relating to his activities to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly. The Special Rapporteur is also required to submit a report to the Commission covering the activities relating to his or her mandate, containing recommendations to the Commission and providing suggestions on ways and means to better promote and protect the right to freedom of opinion and expression in all its manifestations.