Rosenthal backs UN Special Rapporteur’s plea for internet freedom

Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal spoke yesterday with Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Mr Rosenthal stressed how important a free, open internet is in ensuring respect for human rights. He welcomed the recently published report on internet freedom that Mr La Rue will present later this week to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Netherlands plans to join with a group of like-minded countries at this session of the Human Rights Council to issue a declaration urging respect for internet rights.

The minister and Mr La Rue discussed ways in which the Netherlands can support the Special Rapporteur’s efforts to promote internet rights. Mr La Rue will attend the ministerial conference on internet freedom that the Netherlands and Canada are co-organising this autumn.

Internet freedom is one of the priorities of the Dutch government’s human rights strategy, and the Netherlands is taking a number of initiatives to promote it. For example, the Human Rights Fund is supporting projects in countries such as Burma, Iran and Zimbabwe. The Netherlands is also holding regular talks with companies with the aim of agreeing a code of conduct. Business can make a major contribution to the campaign for a free internet and for protection of cyber dissidents.

This week Mr Rosenthal will send the House of Representatives an overview of the government’s activities in support of internet freedom abroad.