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International – And now for some context… IFEX introduces new monthly publication

28 Sep

28 September 2012

IFEX Executive Director Annie Game and IFEX In Context Editor Natasha Grzincic discuss the launch of the first issue

IFEX Executive Director Annie Game and IFEX In Context Editor Natasha Grzincic discuss the launch of the first issue

Leslie de Freitas

By Annie Game and Natasha Grzincic

Welcome to IFEX In Context, IFEX’s new monthly review and third in a suite of updated information products. It is obvious from reading the incidents and news items contributed by IFEX members to the IFEX Daily Digest and IFEX This Week that there is no dearth of attacks on freedom of expression and its defenders. In Context aims at providing the background, context and analysis on free expression issues and trends that will help bring perspective to the issues.

In Context will explore the diversity of opinion and perspective on free expression issues within IFEX and beyond as well as provide a space for debate and analysis on issues that affect us all. It is the place to find in-depth features, meet the FoE champions and learn new facts.

In this issue visit the gallery and see the controversial cartoons by India’s Aseem Trivedi that have landed him in jail. Read about your right to know and why that matters, and hear the arguments for why WikiLeaks should be entitled to the same First Amendment rights as The New York Times.

As a hub for the latest ideas and thought-provoking analysis on free expression issues, In Context is designed to be a place for readers to learn and engage. We hope the content will inform, inspire and even enrage you from time to time. Feel free to express yourself – and let us know what you think. Your ideas on stories, concepts or spotlights are welcome.

Annie Game is the Executive Director at IFEX. Natasha Grzincic is the Editor of IFEX In Context. Contact us at: in_context (@) ifex.org

via IFEX

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Two Somali journalists killed in Mogadishu

28 Sep

Nairobi, September 28, 2012Two Somali journalists have been killed in Mogadishu in the past 24 hours, one in a brutal targeted attack, according to local journalists and news reports

Local residents found the decapitated body of Abdirahman Mohamed, 26, a reporter for the sports news website Ciyaarahamaanta, near a restaurant next to Suqa Holaha, a local livestock market, in the Huriwa district on Thursday, local journalists told CPJ. Unknown gunmen had abducted Abdirahman that day as he was visiting a relative’s house, the journalists said. Abdirahman was found with his hands tied behind his back and his severed head on his chest, the journalists said.

The motive for the killing was not clear and no group has claimed responsibility, according to news reports. CPJ is investigating the case to determine whether it was related to the journalist’s work.

“We call on Somali authorities to investigate the killing of Abdirahman Mohamed in Mogadishu, a government-controlled area,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “This is the most dangerous year for Somali journalists ever recorded by CPJ, and the violence is having a clear effect on the ability and willingness of journalists to gather and report the news.”

Separately, unidentified gunmen in military uniforms this morning shot dead Ahmed Abdulahi, a reporter for the Yemeni news agency, SABA, according to local journalists and news reports. Abdulahi was on a bus on his way to work when a dispute between the driver and a militia group guarding the checkpoint occurred, local journalists told CPJ. Gunmen opened fire on the bus, and Abdulahi was shot in the head. It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone else on the bus was killed.

Ten journalists have been killed in Somalia this year in direct relation to their work, with four deaths last week in Mogadishu within a 24-hour period. Several local journalists have told CPJ they are suspending their work temporarily because of the recent attacks. CPJ ranks Somalia as the most dangerous country to practice journalism in Africa.

  • For more data and analysis on Somalia, visit CPJ’s Somalia page here.

from Committee to Protect Journalists http://cpj.org/2012/09/two-somali-journalists-killed-in-mogadishu.php

Kuwait – Kuwaiti TV channel shut down by authorities

28 Sep

28 September 2012

Source: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
(ANHRI/IFEX) – 27 September 2012 – The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the shutting down of the Kuwaiti TV channel El-Nahg, 24 hours after its launch.

On Monday, 24 September, the Ministry of Information stopped El-Nahg from broadcasting. The channel is affiliated with the dissolved, opposition-dominated parliament.

El-Nahg was broadcast on Arabsat on 23 September, a few hours after its launch. Some members of parliament say that it was shut down under government pressure to not broadcast the events of El-Eradah square, which occurred on 24 September. Kuwaiti authorities said that demonstrations should not take place in the square, as they consider such acts to be a violation of the public order and security; they added that demonstrators would be punished through jail and fines. The Minister of Information said that El-Nahg is not licensed and that those who created it did not apply for permits.

This isn’t the first that a channel is shut down by authorities in Kuwait. In 2009, the authorities shut down El-Sour – a channel owned by a business man and political activist named Mohamed El-Jawihl. El-Sour was shut down for broadcasting a program called El-Sarya, which addresses the topic of dual nationalities in Kuwait. The show was rebroadcast through on European satellite television for a short period of time before El-Jawihl announced that the channel would be shut down forever, in May 2011.

ANHRI calls on Kuwait’s authorities to respect the country’s media and journalism freedoms. It also asks the authorities to stop compromising freedom of expression through restrictions and conditions.

via IFEX

International – UN Human Rights Council urged to reject resolution on “traditional values”

28 Sep

28 September 2012

Source: ARTICLE 19
(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) – 24 September 2012 – UN Human Rights Council members should reject a draft resolution proposed by Russia on “traditional values” as the concept may be abused to legitimise discrimination against minority groups, to silence dissent, and violate people’s human rights.

The draft resolution being tabled before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on “promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind” claims that, “better understanding and appreciation of traditional values by the entire humanity and embodied in universal human rights instruments” contributes to both promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide. The draft calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to collect information from UN member states and other stakeholders on the “best practice” for applying traditional values while promoting and protecting human rights and upholding human dignity.

Increasing dialogue on the role of traditional values in society and raising understanding of the many different values held by people is positive where done within a framework of respect for human rights. However, the draft resolution fails to recognise that traditional values are not always invoked positively and have often been abused to legitimise discrimination against marginalised and minority groups, to silence dissent, and violate people’s human rights. ARTICLE 19 is particularly concerned that “traditional values” will be used to silence advocates for the rights of women, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) and others challenging power hierarchies and inequalities.

ARTICLE 19 also believes that the draft resolution can undermine other initiatives at the UNHRC. On 24 March 2011, the UNHRC adopted Resolution 16/3 tasking the Advisory Committee to prepare a study on promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of the traditional values of humankind. Twenty-four member states voted in favour of the resolution and 21 voted against, with 7 abstaining, indicating the controversy surrounding this issue. The draft resolution on “traditional values” proposed by Russia is too hasty as it precedes the publication of the final report by the Advisory Committee. We therefore urge member states to await the Advisory Committee’s report before considering the issue of traditional values.

In June 2012, the Advisory Committee issued a preliminary study on this issue, observing that the divided views revealed by their study demonstrated “the need to reflect on both the negative and the positive impact that traditional values may have on the effective implementation of human rights”. While the draft resolution stresses that “traditions shall not be invoked to justify practices contrary to human dignity and violating international human rights law”, it does not go far enough to express the concern of the UNHRC at the use of traditional values to justify actions that violate international human rights law. This disregards the advice of the Advisory Committee.

The draft resolution also appears to go against existing human rights standards in this area. In particular, the Advisory Committee notes in paragraph 124 (a) that the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action calls on governments to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to eliminating violence against women. In the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the World Conference on Human Rights stressed the importance of eliminating any harmful effects caused by “certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism”, and emphasised that, “while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” In this regard, the Advisory Committee also references the preamble to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which affirms that traditional gender roles must change in order to achieve full equality between men and women.

ARTICLE 19 believes that giving legal force to the concept of “traditional values” poses significant dangers to the right to freedom of expression and information. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights already constitutes an authoritative statement on the shared values of all humanity, and no compelling case has been presented for its amendment. Moreover, a UN HRC resolution entrenching the concept of “traditional values” would undermine the clarity of international human rights law and open the door to states to exploit this ambiguity in order to justify human rights violations.

ARTICLE 19 calls on all member states to the UNHRC to reject the draft resolution in its entirety.

via IFEX

Editor sentenced to prison for libel in Italy

28 Sep

Alessandro Sallusti (AP/Luca Bruno)

Brussels, September 28, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the criminal defamation conviction and 14-month prison sentence handed to Alessandro Sallusti, editor-in-chief of the Milan-based daily Il Giornale, and calls on Italian authorities to reform the country’s defamation laws.

On Wednesday, the Fifth Chamber of the Cassation Court, Italy’s highest, upheld an earlier guilty verdict delivered against Sallusti by a lower court in Milan in June, 2011. 

The libel charge stems from an article, written under the pseudonym “Dreyfus” and published in February 2007 in the right-wing daily Libero, which Sallusti edited at the time. The author suggested that a juvenile court magistrate, who had allowed a 13-year-old girl the right to an abortion, should be given the death penalty. The magistrate filed a defamation complaint and a Milan court ruled that, as the editor, Sallusti bore responsibility for the publication of the anonymous article.

 “Jailing Alessandro Sallusti would be a severe blow to press freedom in the European Union and a dangerous precedent for member-states and beyond,” Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “This shameful case should make clear to everyone in Italy that the country’s defamation laws demand urgent reform.”

Italy’s Public Prosecutor’s Office suspended Sallusti’s sentence for a month, the international press reported. The news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that Sallusti could appeal to do community service instead of serving time in prison.

Although the article was strongly criticized at the time of its publication as being excessive and containing factual errors, Sallusti’s verdict has sent shock waves through Italy’s journalistic circles. “The sentence defeats and kills freedom of expression,” said Franco Siddi, executive secretary of the Italian journalists’ union, FNSI. The left-wing La Repubblica, a paper that usually strongly disagrees with the right-wing Il Giornale, published an opinion piece stating that jailing journalists for libel “is disproportionate” and represents “a sinister intimidation” to the press.

Upon hearing the verdict, Sallusti reacted angrily, calling his sentence “worthy of repressive regimes such as Syria and North Korea.” He also announced that he would resign from Il Giornale, which is owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s brother, “for the good of his colleagues and the readers of the paper.”

The U.K.’s Telegraph reported that a member of Parliament from Berlusconi’s party Wednesday confessed that he had written the article. Renato Farina, former deputy editor of Libero, said he took responsibility and called for a retrial, the Telegraph reported. 

from Committee to Protect Journalists http://cpj.org/2012/09/editor-sentenced-to-prison-for-libel-in-italy.php

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