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Rapporteurs want new laws for freedom of expression on Internet

Published:Thursday | February 10, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Dr Canute James (left), director of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, speaks with Dr Catalina Botero (centre), special rapporteur on freedom of expression with the Organisation of American States, and Helen Jenkinson, European Union representative, during yesterday's Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression/CARIMAC forum at the Mona Visitors' Lodge, University of the West Indies. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

This year's joint declaration put together by special rapporteurs across the world will address the use of the Internet as it relates to freedom of expression.

The announcement was made during a forum on freedom of expression, hosted by the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) and the Organisation of American States at the Mona Visitors' Lodge, University of the West Indies, yesterday.

Michael Camilleri, an attorney at the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, noted that the 2011 declaration would address issues such as neutrality, liability, censorship and the application of laws that protect freedom of expression.

Representatives of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, which operates as part of the Organisation of American States, are on a four-day academic mission to Jamaica.

Catalina Botero, special rapporteur for freedom of expression, acknowledged that the laws governing the transmission and accessibility of media need to be crafted according to the nature of the Internet, which has widely accessible content.

Protecting web publishers

She also said it was important to look at how to protect those who transmit content over the Internet.

"They are just intermediaries and that's how Internet functions. If you don't protect them, you will condemn freedom of expression," Botero said.

Other organisations involved in the drafting of the declaration include the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression; the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Representative on Freedom of the Media; and the African Commission of Human and People's Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom and Access to Information.