VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Andanar wrong on human rights

Read this fact check in Filipino

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar falsely claimed mobile phones are “a basic human right.”

STATEMENT

Andanar, co-host of the government radio show Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo, said Aug. 18:

Na-realize ko lang kasi sa mga sinasabi ni (I just realized based on what) Secretary Rio (said) na a cellphone (mobile phone) or a smartphone is a basic human right already according to the United Nations.”

Source: Radyo Pilipinas, Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo, Aug. 18, 2018, watch from 33:36 to 33:46

Andanar was commenting on the statement by Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. that “communication is now a basic human right.”

FACT

The United Nations belied Andanar’s claim, saying it does not consider mobile phones a basic human right.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in an email to VERA Files Fact Check said:

“Cell phones and smartphones as technological devices are not basic human rights under international human rights law, and have not been classified as such by the United Nations.

However, the right to freedom of expression, including access to information, which is made possible through such devices, is a basic human right.

International human rights law protects communication / expression / information – in the form of the right to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds, and through any means.”

Source: UN OHCHR email to VERA Files Fact Check

The UN OHCHR added that the phrase “through any means” covers information sought, received and imparted through the use of mobile phones and smartphones.

“Interference with communication that takes place through phones, as a general rule, cannot take place unless the interference meets the conditions of international human rights law,” it said.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sets out fundamental and universal human rights, states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Source: United Nations, Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Sources:

Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Personal Communication, Aug. 22, 2018.

United Nations, Universal Declaration on Human Rights

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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