Frank William La Rue

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Frank La Rue
Frank larue internet rights 0c174 7711.jpg
At a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 2010
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
Incumbent
Assumed office
August 1, 2008
Preceded by Ambeyi Ligabo
Personal details
Born 1952
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Alma mater Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala
Johns Hopkins University
Website caldh.org
OHCHR Special Rapporteur

Frank La Rue (born in 1952) is a Guatemalan labor and human rights lawyer currently serving as UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, a position he has held since August 2008.[1] He is the founder of the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights (CALDH) and has been involved in the promotion of human rights for over 25 years. He was nominated for (but did not win) the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize by Mairead Corrigan, Northern Irish peace activist and 1976 laureate.[2]

Biography[edit]

La Rue was born in Guatemala. Born legally blind, he nevertheless enrolled in and graduated from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala with a law degree. La Rue served as legal adviser to the Central General de Trabajadores de Guatemala, the country's largest labor federation, from 1975 to 1980, during which time he had occasion to defend numerous labor union personnel and clergymen amid the country's worsening Civil War. He was consequently marked for death, and in 1981 he and his family sought exile in the United States. He served until 1989 as attorney and political analyst for numerous Guatemalan political exiles, including Rigoberta Menchú (1992 Nobel Peace Prize laureate), and in 1990 founded the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights (CALDH).[3] LaRue obtained a postgraduate degree in U.S. foreign policy from Johns Hopkins University in 1985.[4][5]

The 1993 Guatemalan constitutional crisis, triggered by President Jorge Serrano's self-coup, prompted La Rue to return to his country in 1994, where he reestablished CALDH in Guatemala.[3] CALDH became the first Guatemalan NGO to bring cases of human rights violations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. La Rue brought the first genocide cases against former Guatemalan military dictatorships by filing charges against General Fernando Romeo Lucas García in 2000, and against General Efraín Ríos Montt in 2001; these cases resulted in numerous threats and attacks against CALDH.[6]

He directed a news magazine Debate (1998-2004); hosted numerous radio programs in the U.S. and Guatemala on the subject of political rights; participated in the Migrant Workers Rights Program at the University of Chicago in 2002; served as Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala for President Oscar Berger (2004–08); as Human Rights Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala; President of the Governing Board of DEMOS (the Central American Institute for the Study of Social Democracy); and as consultant to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.[5][7]

Freedom of Expression[edit]

La Rue was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in August 2008.[1] In that capacity, he monitored and exerted his influence on notable civil liberties controversies of the day, including supporting proposed corporate limits on the number of media licenses in Argentina against the opposition of the country's largest media groups,[8] and by indicating in May 2011 that unrestricted and undisturbed access to the Internet is a fundamental human right.[9] He also drew on his personal experience to propose the enactment that November of an international Treaty for the Blind.[10]

La Rue later published a report on how state surveillance undermines freedom of expression and illegal monitoring of communication undermines human rights; this report was filed to OHCHR two days before Edward Snowden publicized NSA's warrantless surveillance program in June 2013.[11] Several computers and documents belonging to the Special Rapporteur were stolen from his office located at the DEMOS Institute in Guatemala City on July 31 in as-yet unclear circumstances.[12]

La Rue has lectured extensively in his fields of expertise, including teaching a seminar on freedom of expression at the American University Washington College of Law's Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law as a visiting scholar in the summer of 2012.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN. 
  2. ^ "No To Genocide General". Trocaire. "Ms Corrigan Maguire made the announcement, stating: '... Frank La Rue has the courage to stand against such terror in Guatemala. For his courage in using his immense talents to uphold truth, struggle relentlessly for human rights and dignity, oppose genocide and strive to prevent further murders, it is my great honour to propose Frank La Rue for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2004'" 
  3. ^ a b Mairead Corrigan (September 9, 2003). "Frank La Rue fue nominado a Premio Nobel de la Paz 2004". CALDH. 
  4. ^ "Public lecture by Frank La Rue on new challenges to freedom of expression". Center for Media & Communications Studies. March 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "CV : Frank Rafael La Rue Lewy". Organization of American States. 
  6. ^ "Guatemala: Fear for safety, CALDH". Amnesty International. June 6, 2001. 
  7. ^ "Frank LaRue". Internet Governance Forum. 
  8. ^ "Media Law Reform Pits Argentine Executive Branch Against Judiciary". Americas Quarterly. December 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ "UN report: Internet access is a basic human right". NBC News. June 3, 2011. 
  10. ^ "UN Special Rapporteur calls for binding Treaty for Blind". IP Policy Committee. November 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ "State communication surveillance undermines freedom of expression, warns UN expert". OHCHR. June 4, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Guatemala: UN expert alarmed by break-in of Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression’s office". OHCHR. August 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Completes Successful Summer Program, Collaborates with ASIL to Host CLE Series". American University Washington College of Law. June 19, 2012.