The 32nd session of the Human Rights Council will be held from June 13 - 1 July 2016 at the Palais des Nations, Room XX, Geneva, Switzerland.
The Human Rights Council holds three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least ten weeks. They take place in March (four weeks), June (three weeks) and September (three weeks). If one third of the Member States requests so, the Human Rights Council can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.
More information about HRC sessions can be found here.
The Special Rapporteur (SR) on the promotion and protection of the right of opinion and expression, Mr David Kaye, presented his report on the current situation of freedom of expression in the digital era during the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council.
In particular, he outlined the recent cases of Tajikistan and Japan. In the first case, he raised awareness about the numerous threats and cases of intimidation to journalists in that country, as well as the frequent blocks of information sources on the Internet. In the case of Japan, the free press and online freedom of expression are specifically established (art. 21 of the Constitution), but there are still limitations when it comes to media independence.
The SR particularly underlined the necessity to establish to what extent the private sector and the ICT industry have a responsibility to promote and protect freedom of expression, identifying norms and standards. At the same time, he stressed the problematic trend of governments asking private companies to filter inappropriate content, increasing the risk of online censorship. Moreover, this privately-exercised process of shutting down is neither clear, nor democratic. The representative of the Council of Europe stressed the problem of arbitrariness in the blocking, filtering, and taking down of online content, in the absence of any judicial process.
Concluding his report, the SR defined the steps to work on in the future and the roles of governments and of private companies. In particular, governments must engage in adopting and implementing rules and technical measures to protect freedom of expression and opinion online. They should also refrain from asking private companies to take censorship measures, such as taking down websites. On the other side, the private sector has to develop transparent rules and human rights assessment procedures in order to avoid illegitimate restrictions to freedom of expression.