Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 23, 2020
Thank you, Special Rapporteur Khan. Respecting freedom of expression enables the open exchange of information, robust public debate, and an independent press that are vitally important for free and secure democratic societies.
As a result, individuals are better informed, more engaged in public decision-making, and better able to hold governments accountable.
This is particularly important during times of emergency, allowing people to access, share, and discuss information to protect their health and safety.
Governments increasingly restrict freedom of expression of viewpoints with which they disagree, repress peaceful dissent, and stifle the free flow of information and ideas. Arbitrary detentions, threats of violence, and physical attacks are routinely used to target individuals and groups and silence their voices.
In Belarus, we condemn the government’s use of violence and mass arrests targeting peaceful protesters, journalists, and opposition candidates, and its actions to limit access to the Internet, including internet shutdowns and limited access to social media, in the aftermath of the fraudulent August 9 presidential election.
In China, we are alarmed by the Communist Party’s lack of transparency regarding the pandemic, including reports it has censored news and information from whistleblowing doctors, as well as detained journalists and healthcare workers for providing information on the initial outbreak.
In Saudi Arabia, we remain concerned by reports of detention and harassment of human rights defenders, and their families, for raising their voices in support of human rights, civil society, and democratic governance.
The United States strongly supports your mandate.