UN expert: Protect freedom of expression as a vital survival right of civilians in armed conflict

During her presentation to the General Assembly, Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression said, ‘Information has long been manipulated by States and armed groups to deceive and demoralise the enemy. But what is new and deeply worrying in today’s conflicts is the scale, spread and speed of disinformation, propaganda and hate speech, targeting civilians, particularly vulnerable and marginalised groups. It undermines human rights with audacity and impunity’, She said, ‘during armed conflict, people are at their most vulnerable and in great need of accurate, trustworthy information to ensure their own safety and well-being. Yet that is precisely when they are being hit with manipulated information, internet shutdowns or slowdowns, information blackouts and other restrictions on information. The right to information is not a legitimate target of war,’ the Special Rapporteur said.