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Updated: Jul 11, 2023

A printed paper with on it written Freedom of Speech

We are delighted to announce that our founders Dr. Costantino Grasso (Associate Professor in Business and Law at Manchester Law School) and Dr. Donato Vozza (Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Roehampton) have prepared a submission to contribute to the thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression of the UN Human Rights Council “Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Sustainable Development - Why Voice Matters"

The submission, which has been published on the United Nations’ website, is accessible here:

The submission includes two main parts.

The first one discusses the relationship between the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of crimes committed by powerful individuals or groups. It highlights the interconnections between organized crime, illicit financial flows, corruption, and tax abuses. Whistleblowers, journalists, and civil society members are recognized for their role in combating these crimes and fostering public debate. However, it emphasizes the need for enhanced protection of whistleblowers and greater attention to tax crimes at the international level. Journalists are also acknowledged as crucial in countering crimes of the powerful but are often subjected to retaliation and inadequate protection. The document recommends supporting initiatives like Forbidden Stories, which helps continue investigations of killed journalists and calls for international support and funding for such projects.

In the second part, the focus shifts to the United Kingdom and examines the laws, policies, and practices related to freedom of expression and information. It discusses how disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation can undermine public participation and the decision-making process. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 in the UK is analyzed, highlighting challenges such as built-in exemptions, lack of real freedom of information, and a reluctance of public departments to operate transparently. The document also points out that the legislation does not apply to multinational corporations, allowing them to operate with opacity and avoid public scrutiny. The example of Johnson and Johnson's withholding of information about asbestos in their baby talc is given as an illustration of the consequences of this lack of transparency.

Overall, the submission underscores the importance of freedom of opinion and expression, the role of whistleblowers and journalists, and the need for stronger legal frameworks and protection mechanisms to combat crimes of the powerful and promote transparency and public participation.


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