By Jose Cielito Reganit

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan (Photo courtesy of World Economic Forum)

MANILA – The scheduled visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan to the Philippines is a manifestation that the country is always open and sincere in cooperating with international partners, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday.

Khan will arrive in the country on Jan. 23 and will stay until Feb. 2.

“This visit signifies the open, sustained, and sincere cooperation of the Philippine government with bilateral and regional partners and the UN, on many fronts, where the country promotes its human rights-based development agenda and good governance, as well as its contributions in strengthening global norms to uphold human rights and dignity,” the DFA said in a statement.

Khan is the third SR to visit the Philippines in 14 months, after SR for the Sale and Exploitation of Children, Fatimah Singhateh, in November 2022 and SR for Climate Change and Human Rights, Dr. Ian Fry, in November 2023.

In Feb. 2023, SR for Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, also had an academic visit to the Philippines.

Philippine engagements with UN Special Rapporteurs also include meetings undertaken by Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat, the most recent of which took place in July 2023 on the sidelines of the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The DFA likewise said the Philippines “cooperates in good faith” with international human rights mechanisms, and supports funding for cooperation to build human rights capacities in developing countries.

“The Philippines takes pride in its human rights agenda, built over decades and across different administrations, which has set important benchmarks in the protection and promotion of the rights of various marginalized communities, including migrant workers, women, children, indigenous peoples, refugees, stateless persons, individuals with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups,” it said.

The department said Khan’s visit would be an opportunity for her to see that the government is transparent and progressive in its agenda with respect to the promotion and protection of freedom of speech and expression. (PNA)