UN expert urges pardons for other whistleblowers after Chelsea Manning

By: | Published: January 19, 2017 12:10 PM

Welcoming the commutation of US army officer Chelsea Manning's 35-year sentence for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, a UN human rights expert called on governments to recognise the contributions of whistleblowers and pardon those serving prison sentences.

The UN expert also directly called on the governments of Sweden and the UK to follow the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to strengthen the human rights system. (Reuters)The UN expert also directly called on the governments of Sweden and the UK to follow the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to strengthen the human rights system. (Reuters)

Welcoming the commutation of US army officer Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, a UN human rights expert called on governments to recognise the contributions of whistleblowers and pardon those serving prison sentences.

“There are, however, many whistleblowers who have served the cause of human rights and who are still in prison in many countries throughout the world. It is time to recognise the contribution of whistleblowers to democracy and the rule of law and to stop persecuting them,” said Alfred de Zayas, the UN Independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

He called on governments worldwide to put an end to multiple campaigns of “defamation, mobbing and even prosecution of whistleblowers like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, the Luxleakers Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet and the tax corruption leaker Rafi Rotem.”

He added that these are whistleblowers “who have acted in good faith and who have given meaning to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of expression.”

“A culture of secrecy is frequently also a culture of impunity,” de Zayas said, noting that because Article 19 is “absolutely crucial to every democracy, whistleblowers should be protected, not persecuted.”

The UN expert also directly called on the governments of Sweden and the UK to follow the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to strengthen the human rights system.

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Implementing the recommendations of the Working Group could impact one of the whistleblowers who de Zayas mentioned.

Assange has been under the diplomatic protection of Ecuador in London for more than four years.

In a suprise move, Obama had cut short Manning’s sentence on Tuesday, a decision slammed by President-elect Donald Trump’s.

The 29-year-old American military analyst, born Bradley Manning, will now be freed on May 17 instead of her scheduled 2045 release.

She was sentenced to 35 years in 2013 for her role in leaking diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. The leak was one of the largest breaches of classified material in US history.

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