HRC50: Item 3 – High-level panel – Disinformation

HRHF video statement

28 June 2022

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Thank you.

States have a positive obligation to foster an enabling environment for freedom of expression, online and offline, in which everyone can exercise their right to freedom of expression, including journalists, independent media organisations and human rights defenders.

However, we witness a range of situations in the wider European region, where states are not fulfilling these obligations, but rather are using disinformation  – or the “fight against it” – as a tool for political purposes, often with profoundly negative human rights consequences.

Disinformation is being used to intensify social polarisation and aid propaganda, by both state and non-state actors.

Equally, while it is important to counter the negative impact  of disinformation, we also see states adopting vague legislation in order to tackle what they can call disinformation, which is then used as an arbitrary tool of legal harassment and restriction on freedom of expression, and this was particularly notable during the Covid19-pandemic.

Therefore, states must ensure that their responses to the spread of disinformation comply with international human rights law and that they refrain from conducting or sponsoring disinformation campaigns domestically or transnationally for political or other purposes.

Most importantly, states should look to strengthen the resilience of societies against the negative impact of disinformation at all levels through digital and media literacy, inter-cultural understanding, fact-checking, and transparent and accountable technological solutions.

Thank you.