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UN rapporteur urged to investigate 'government's use of trolls'

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UN rapporteur urged to investigate 'government's use of trolls'
This file photo depicts a graphical representation of online trolls or anonymous accounts.
Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — A House minority lawmaker has called on a visiting United Nations special rapporteur to probe the government’s alleged use of “trolls” or anonymous accounts for propaganda.

In a statement on Tuesday, Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers) welcomed the visit of Irene Khan, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, who will be studying the state of free speech in the country during her 10-day tour. 

Castro said that Khan must also look into how the government “utilizes trolls and rabid anti-communist media stations to spread lies and fake news."

"We are glad that UN SR Khan is here to look into the real situation of freedom of expression in the Philippines, especially considering the challenges faced by those who express dissent against the government,” the lawmaker said.

“There have been instances where individuals who voice out opposition are red-tagged, harassed, or even killed," Castro added.

From January 23 to February 2, Khan will be meeting with government officials and members of civil society to study the Philippines’ human rights situation concerning the state of free expression and media freedom. 

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Khan is the third UN rapporteur to formally visit the country during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

RELATED: Rights groups score gov't for ‘whitewashing’ abuses ahead of UN rapporteur visit | UN expert urged to probe continued assaults on free speech under Marcos 

In 2020, troll networks linked to former President Rodrigo Duterte, described as "disinformation weapons" by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), were listed among the top digital threats to press freedom globally for that year. — Cristina Chi

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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

HUMAN RIGHTS

UNITED NATIONS

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