Alfred de Zayas, who is the UN’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and international order” has put out quite a statement in support of President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. But de Zayas didn’t stop there. He went on to point out that the US government and other governments have been persecuting many other whistleblowers around the world, including Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, and that should stop:
I welcome the commutation of sentence of Chelsea Manning and her forthcoming release in May. 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 recognize the contribution of whistleblowers to democracy and the rule of law and to stop persecuting them.
I call 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, 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. Whistleblowers who are serving prison sentence in many countries should be pardoned.
Whistleblowers are human rights defenders whose contribution to democracy and the rule of law cannot be overestimated. They serve democracy and human rights by revealing information that all persons are entitled to receive. A culture of secrecy is frequently also a culture of impunity. Because the right to know proclaimed in article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is absolutely crucial to every democracy, whistleblowers should be protected, not persecuted.
The statement goes on for a few more paragraphs and concludes:
It is time for this abnormal and inhuman situation to end.
Of course, this kind of statement will mostly be ignored by those in power — and where not ignored, it will likely be mocked or attacked. But it is an important and useful statement. In the hype and buzz around these individuals, the underlying facts often get buried. But it remains the case that the individuals de Zayas named have focused on revealing to the public important information that powerful people have tried to keep secret, often exposing massive government overreach or outright lies.