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US Statement: Reports on Freedom of Expression, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and Trafficking in Persons
June 3, 2010


ITEM 3 “Promotion of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”

Clustered Interactive Dialogue on the SR’s reports on Freedom of Expression, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and Trafficking in Persons

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 14th Session

Geneva, June 3, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President.

Freedom of Expression

The United States thanks Special Rapporteur La Rue for his report. We strongly support his affirmation of the freedom of opinion and expression as underpinning and protecting other human rights. And we appreciate his focus on the roles that freedom of expression and access to information play in combating impunity, corruption and discrimination.

However, we also note with concern his consideration of restrictions on freedom of expression and wish to reiterate the U.S. government’s firm belief that more speech and dialogue, not less, is necessary to combat intolerance. The United States remains strongly committed to the fight against ignorance, intolerance, hatred, and discrimination. We do not believe, however, in banning speech as a means of combating these problems. Rather, the inherent weaknesses of offensive and unconscionable ideas are best discredited when exposed to the bright light of public scrutiny. We also disagree with the Special Rapporteur’s characterization of the freedom of expression as a collective right; human rights attach to individuals rather than groups.

That said, we support many of the Special Rapporteur’s reports and conclusions and look forward to reviewing his work on the issue of access to electronic communications and freedom of expression on the internet in 2011. In this context, we would encourage the Special Rapporteur to examine the following trends: the suspension of activists’ accounts on social networking and email services; and the operational limitations, oversight and restrictions placed on internet companies.

ESA Executions

We would like to thank Special Rapporteur Alston for his final set of reports as the Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions mandate holder, and for his six years of diligent work.

Several of the reports being presented today – including one on targeted killings – were only recently released publicly, and we continue to review their contents. We note that it is difficult for States to meaningfully engage in an interactive dialogue if reports are not released with sufficient time for review.

The Obama Administration is firmly committed to the rule of law. As Legal Adviser Harold Koh noted in his March 25, 2010 remarks to the American Society of International Law, we are committed to complying with all applicable law, including international humanitarian law, in all aspects of ongoing armed conflicts. While the United States cannot comment on specific activities, we work hard to ensure our activities – subject to scrupulous oversight – comport with domestic and international law.


We appreciate the thorough report of Special Rapporteur Ngozi, which gives countries, for the first time, an overview of the relevant regional and sub-regional organizations working on addressing human trafficking.

As stated in Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; and slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” The United States would like to stress that human trafficking is both a human rights and a law enforcement issue. We cannot de-link these aspects when we talk about the subjection of human beings to modern forms of slavery in the 21st century.

We support the Special Rapporteur’s view that regional and sub-regional organizations “provide a better setting for closer cooperation, facilitated by a stronger feeling of ownership and greater adaptability to local approaches and realities on the ground.” We question the need for another international mechanism such as a global plan of action when regional plans already exist. Regional work plans – such as the recent text at the Organization of American States – help spur greater action by Member States in those areas and we applaud those States involved.

We appreciate many of the report’s recommendations, including working proactively with civil society organizations and incorporating the needs of trafficked male victims in the development of gender-sensitive responses. As member states of these organizations, we should take them on board to further strengthen our national and regional efforts.

We have two follow up questions:

•  As negotiations on a Political Declaration and Global Plan of Action on Trafficking in Persons have begun in New York, what is your advice to member states on giving greater prominence to the important role of regional and sub-regional organizations?

• Also, in some regions there are a two or three regional organizations working on human trafficking, in your analysis do you see a need for greater coordination among them?