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Global assault on Freedom of Expression

We are all under threat!     Freedom of expression is not only being tested by Governments around the world, but legislation brought in which curtails or limits freedom of expression - much of it in the name of fighting terrorism.

A UN expert has now raised the issue, as explained in this piece, here, on CommonDreams.....

"Governments are treating words as weapons," a United Nations expert has warned, previewing a report on the global attack on the freedom of expression.

The report, based on communications with governments stemming from allegations of human rights law violations—reveal "sobering" trends of threats worldwide and "how policies and laws against terrorism and other criminal activity risk unnecessarily undermining the media, critical voices, and activists."

The expert, Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, is presenting his report on the sometimes "abusive" practices by governments to the UN General Assembly on Friday.

The "tools of repression" used by governments worldwide in their assault include internet shut-downs and over-classification of documents in the name of national security. The tactics may also include criminalization of criticism of the state, which may lead to detention and other punitive measures against political and human rights activists—and even journalists.

The report states that "attacks on journalism are fundamentally at odds with protection of freedom of expression and access to information and, as such, they should be highlighted independently of any other rationale for restriction."

The United States isn't spared criticism in the report, with Kaye noting that it "enforces its Espionage Act in ways that ensure that national security whistleblowers lack the ability to defend themselves on the merits of grounds of public interest." That's the same argument that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who faces charges under the act, has made.

The report also states that "journalists covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 were subjected to detention by the local authorities."

The report concludes that the justifications governments give for limiting freedom of opinion and expression "are often unsustainable."

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