UNGA president cautions against abuse of freedom of expression

UNGA president cautions against abuse of freedom of expression

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 9:06 am

Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande

The President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, has cautioned individuals against abusing freedom of expression and association, noting that it is not absolute.

Muhammad-Bande stated this at an interactive session with representatives of civil society organisations at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.

News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that he therefore urged people not to abuse the freedom, but to exercise it with responsibility.

In the same vein he said the United Nations must continue to insist on protection of the freedom of expression and association of citizens.

“The United Nations must continue to affirm freedom of association and freedom of expression regardless of location.

“Without these we cannot have a democracy and peace. Therefore, the thing is for the UN to continue to join others in insisting that the rights of individuals be upheld,’’ he said.

He said authorities must subject themselves to judicial process in dealing with individuals who violate the law in the course of exercising their rights.

“That you are a journalist or a teacher does not mean you cannot do wrong.

“But if someone violates the law, let the courts make a determination and let us respect the court.

“There is also judicial process; let all of us submit ourselves to that process and let that process be fair’’, he said.

The PGA was responding to a question that sought his plans on advancement of human rights with focus on freedom of the press.

It came from the Secretary-General of the International Peace Research Association, Mr Mort Myr, who said the association was concerned about the difficulties faced by journalists from authorities.

Myr specifically mentioned the case of Omoyele Sowore, a prominent journalist, being held by the Federal Government on charges of treasonable felony and money laundering.

Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, an online news medium, and presidential candidate in the February 2019 presidential election, was arrested by the Department of State Service (DSS) on Aug. 3.

The arrest came two days before a planned nationwide protest tagged #RevolutionNow, which was to be led by him.

The DSS still has him in custody even after meeting the conditions for a second bail granted him by a federal judge since Oct

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