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2013 November 20 - 26 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

UN human rights experts criticize Japan’s secrecy bill

November 24, 2013
Special rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council on November 22 criticized the Japanese government-proposed state secrets bill currently under discussion in the nation’s parliament and requested Tokyo to provide further information.

Special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue expressed his concern saying that Japan’s special secrets bill includes “serious threats to whistle-blowers and even journalists reporting on secrets.”

The human rights expert criticized the bill for having “broad and vague grounds for secrecy” though “transparency is a core requirement for democratic governance”. Pointing out that the bill could impose severe penalties on public workers if they leak secrets, “Government officials who, in good faith, release confidential information on violations of the law, or wrongdoing by public bodies, should be protected against legal sanctions,” said La Rue.

Meanwhile, special rapporteur on the right to health Anand Grover cited the ongoing nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and said, “Particularly in calamities, it is essential to ensure that the public is provided with consistent and timely information enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their health.”

The special rapporteurs are independent experts working on behalf of the Human Rights Council. They investigate, monitor, and advise nations regarding various human rights issues as well as report on the present status of human rights in those nations. They are appointed by the general secretary of the council without remuneration.

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