Yesterday's attack by the Islamists, led by Pakistan, had the subtlety of a thin-bladed knife slipped silently under the ribs of the Human Rights Council. At first reading the amendment to the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression might seem reasonable. It requires the Special Rapporteur: "To report on instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination …" (My emphasis.)
"might seem reasonable..." But why would it seem reasonable?
Because, contrary to what many believe, there are actual limits on Freedom of Speech - or rather, there is a general consensus, that if you say certain things there may be legal repercussions, because certain things might be hateful or incite to hatred, and that in turn is a violation of the UDHR articles
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.
Article 14. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
While those articles can primarily be said to deal with how a Government may or may not treat its citizens - they are also clear indications of what we, as a Society, consider to be comme il faut between citizens.
While the amendment to the "job-description" of the Special Rapporteur seems reasonable enough, it isn't, because it requires the Special Rapporteur to regard as non-violations those violations that may be committed by nations against their own citizens. As Ketutar said in a comment to my entry yesterday:
"... still violations of human rights, but CRITICISING and PROTESTING against violations of human rights have become violation of human rights…
I.e - Criticizing one's own government where that government tries to infringe on Civil Liberties has become "illegal" - exactly what Freedom of Speech an Freedom of Expression was once instituted to safe-guard - the People's right to criticize its Government without risk of reprisals.
The consequences of this "amendment" to the UDHR article 19 are far-reaching. Not only does it make it impossible for citizens in religiously rigid societies, such as many Islamic Countries ruled by Sharia Laws, to voice their discontent with their Government. It also makes it possible for said countries to arrest, restrain, expel, gag any Human Rights Organizations that wish to monitor or investigate human rights violations in OIC countries, with impunity - this would include the UN and the Human Rights Council itself.
Freedom of Speech is the back-bone of any democracy, and where Freedom of Speech is restricted in regards to critical analysis of one's government, there can be no democracy. The OIC has clearly told the world that they disagree with democratic principles and democratic government.