Bangladesh Rights Defender Irene Khan Named UN Expert on Free Speech

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Irene Khan, a human rights defender of Bangladeshi origin.

Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Irene Khan, a human rights defender of Bangladeshi origin, has been appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Khan, a lawyer and former secretary-general of Amnesty International, will begin her three-year tenure from August. She joins the UN in place of David Kaye whose six-year tenure came to end.

She is the first woman to get this mandate since the UN began appointing experts on free speech 27 years ago. Apart from Amnesty, Khan has been the director-general of International Development Law Organisation, an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of rule of law.

Her role will be to engage with the governments on issues of censorship, internet shutdowns and advocate on behalf of activists and journalists. She will also be responsible for violations of the right to free speech.

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs are independent investigators who examine the situation of human rights all over the globe. They report directly to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly but do not receive any remuneration for their efforts to maintain their independence.

She would also be responsible for gathering information on threats, violence, harassment, persecution or intimidation directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the right to freedom of opinion and expression, especially the persecutions of journalists or other professionals in the field of information.

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