We thank the special rapporteur for the presentation of the report on disease pandemics and the freedom of opinion and expression.
The freedom of opinion and expression, online and offline, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information, is essential in combatting the current global health- and economic crisis. In this context, the EU is concerned about increased restrictions on this freedom around the world. Public health cannot be used as a pretext to unduly limit the enjoyment of this right.
Mr. Kaye, in your report you highlight disinformation as one of the 5 challenges to be managed during pandemics. In fact, as you rightly state, unreliable information can cause grave harm. While recognizing that in certain cases disinformation can consist of illegal content that can be justifiably restricted, measures taken to fight disinformation should strictly respect freedom of expression and include safeguards that prevent their misuse. We fully agree with this assessment, and thus we are worried about possible infringements to freedom of expression in the context of the fight against disinformation. Could you please elaborate on how states can ensure a human rights compliant response to the threat of disinformation?
In closing, Mr Kaye, the European Union would like to thank you for the excellent work you have undertaken in the fulfilment of your mandate. Your legacy, including the latest report on freedom of expression and disease pandemics, will continue to guide us in the future