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United Kingdom: Universal Periodic Review pinpoints defamation, injunctions, protesters and online speech

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 24 May 2012
Cite as Article 19, United Kingdom: Universal Periodic Review pinpoints defamation, injunctions, protesters and online speech, 24 May 2012, available at: [accessed 21 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Geneva, 24.05.12: Member states of the UN today recommended to the UK government that they address among other issues the status of defamation legislation, so-called 'super' injunctions, the containment of protesters, and online free expression.

 "The UK government was pushed on a number of important freedom of expression issues at todays human rights review at the UN including on topics such as the right to peaceful protest and the right to freedom of expression online," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

 "The UK government told the floor that they had produced a defamation bill that would solve member states' concerns, but the bill while making positive steps, does not address many of the issues raised by member states at the last Universal Periodic Review," she added.

 During todays review a number of member states highlighted threats to the right to freedom of expression.

 The delegation of Japan asked the UK about measures taken to ensure the right to freedom of expression is protected online, and made reference to the challenges imposed on related issues such as the effect of intellectual property.

 The delegations of Iraq and Angola highlighted the UK's current attention to legal regulation of the media, and the status of a defamation bill presented in March 2011. The effect of so-called 'super' injunctions of freedom of expression was highlighted by the delegation of Angola.

 The delegation from the Netherlands submitted advance questions to the review, asking the UK government to explain how it will ensure that the practice of containment – or 'kettling' – of protesters does not infringe on their right to peaceful protest

 The UK's representative at the review, Lord McNally, responded to the questions and recommendations regarding defamation and its impact on freedom of expression by stating that 'his baby' aimed to get the balance right between a free media and the right of the individual to privacy, and that it was regarded as a 'good law' by civil society.

 ARTICLE 19's submission to the review stated that the draft bill does not address many of the problems raised by members states at the UK's last Universal Periodic Review in 2008.

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