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Canada – Canada: UN Universal Periodic Review Submission

11 Oct

11 October 2012

Source: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
(CJFE/IFEX) – October 11, 2012 – Every four years, each UN Member State stands for a review of its human rights record at a Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Canada is up for its next review in 2013.

The process works similar to a peer review. Countries are able to stand up and provide their feedback on each other’s rights records, with input from organizations working within the country.

Along with other organizations across Canada, CJFE has contributed to a submission that summarizes Canada’s record on free expression – one of our fundamental human rights, protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In collaboration with the Centre for Law and Democracy, the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), and PEN Canada, we have submitted our feedback to the UN for consideration.

Although Canada has generally maintained a strong human rights record, there are some serious weaknesses that need to be considered, specifically in relation to free expression and access to information:

• Protecting confidential sources
• Mistreatment of journalists
• Defamation
• The right to information
• Whistleblower protection
• Access to the internet
• Restrictions on freedom of assembly

Over the coming months, we will continue to follow all of these issues. So stay tuned to the website as we head towards Canada’s next UPR (April 22 – May 3 2013). We will be looking for your feedback to help contribute to the discussion in the spring.

Read the submission online

via IFEX

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Saudi Arabia – Saudi activist sentenced to 15 years in prison

11 Oct

11 October 2012

Source: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
(ANHRI/IFEX) – Cairo, 10 October 2012 – ANHRI condemns the sentencing of reform activist Talal Al Majid to 15 years’ imprisonment for having been in contact with the dissident Saad Al-Faqih.

Al Majid has been in prison for the last 10 years, accused of supporting reform leaders, as well as for the transfer of remittances from certain Gulf citizens to Al-Faqih. He has also written a book on Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, for which he allegedly took photographs of areas frequented by foreigners. In its proceedings, the court relied on confessions obtained by security authorities through coercive means and torture.

Ahmed Rashid, an activist and the lawyer for this case, said that “the trial took place over the span of eight hearings, and considered the case on the merits, thereby ignoring the procedural defenses related to obtaining evidence.” He added that he will receive the details of the sentence on behalf of his client in a week. He stated that they will then have 30 days to appeal the decision, while recognizing that the appeal process is flawed and does not allow the client to appear before the court.

In a related incident, the Saudi authorities arrested Sheikh Adel El-Faleh on Monday, October 2 on charges of “incitement by wearing the blue uniform of a detainee.” In a sit-in that took place last weekend in the Kingdom, El-Faleh wore the uniform in solidarity with detainees. This followed a call, spread on Twitter by some activists, to wear this uniform in order to denounce the lack of information provided on arrests and trials as part of a media blackout.

The security forces also arrested Nawaf Al-Ruwaili for standing in front of the Al-Jawf Emirate and demanding the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

“The sentencing of Talal Al Majid is a continuation of a series of charges being issued to opposition activists in an attempt by the Saudi authorities to silence the opposition,” stated ANHRI.

ANHRI questioned the validity of detaining someone for 10 years or more in prison without bringing them to trial, considering the fact that the law requires the accused person to be tried within a period of 45 days.

ANHRI calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Saudi, or have them be brought before a fair trial.

via IFEX

Pakistan – Pakistani teen blogger shot and wounded by Taliban gunman

11 Oct

11 October 2012

Source: Reporters Without Borders
(RSF/IFEX) – 11 October 2012 – Two days ago the 14-year-old blogger Malala Yousafzai was shot and wounded in the head and neck by the Pakistan Taliban on her way home from school.

A gunman stopped the school bus on which the young activist was travelling and shot her and two other girls whom he had asked to identify her. Doctors at the Saidu Sharif hospital in the northern city of Mingora successfully removed the bullets but for some time she remained in a critical condition.

She is now out of danger and the interior minister, Rehman Malik, said a decision whether to move her abroad for further treatment had been postponed. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf announced that the government would meet the cost of her treatment.

Reporters Without Borders is outraged at this cowardly attack on such a young activist. “The cruelty of the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) in targeting this young girl is absolutely disgusting,” the press freedom organization said.

“The attack shows once again that the Taliban will go to any lengths to silence their critics and intimidate the local population. We urge the Pakistani authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Malala Yousafzai and other dissidents who are threatened by the Taliban.”

TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Eshan confirmed that the organization was behind the shooting. He told the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune that that if she survived they would target her again, adding that it was a warning to all youngsters involved in similar activities who would be targeted if they did not stop.

In 2009, the Taliban closed educational facilities, destroying 150 schools, in the Swat Valley, part of Pakistan’s so-called tribal zones, with the declared aim of preventing the education of girls. Malala, aged 11 at the time, launched a blog on the BBC website using the pen name ‘Gul Makai’ which criticized the Taliban occupation.

The young activist also chaired the Child Assembly, a UNICEF-backed gathering of young people working for children’s rights in the Swat Valley, and publicly expressed her support for the right of women to an education. Last December she received the National Youth Peace Award for her courage in promoting peace in the region.

Pakistan is ranked 151st of 179 countries in the 2011/2012 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

via IFEX

#GlobalNoise Pot-Banging Protests Coming 13 Oct 2012

11 Oct

A day of pot-banging protests promises to shake the most sensitive earsacross the globe on October 13, 2012. The Global Noise initiative is organized by the international networks of Occupy, Indignados, #YoSoy132, and other social justice movements and activist platforms from several different countries. It will take place roughly one year after 2011’s October 15, when the world saw the rapid spread of square occupations calling for #GlobalChange.

Click the image to see a collection of #GlobalNoise designs

According to the website for Global Noise, local organizers and participants define the focus of each protest themselves:

The result is a turbulent cacophony of issues and slogans: “Don’t owe, won’t pay” in Spain, “Fuck the Troika” in Portugal, a clear message against war from Istanbul, a protest in front of the annual IMF/Worldbank meeting in Tokyo,
One common theme running through all the #GlobalNoise events is the targeting of political and financial elites who are held responsible for destroying our communities and the planet, resonating the ongoing wave of anti-austerity protests in Europe and around the world. At the same time #GlobalNoise is a symbol of hope and unity, building on a wide variety of struggles for global justice and solidarity, assuring that together we will create another world.

[This and other #GlobalNoise videos can be seen here]

Occupy Wall Street explains the concept behind the upcoming non-violent day of action, when demonstrations are expected to get “louder than ever” with the global cacerolazo, casserole, pot-banging protest:

Historically, banging on a pot has been a universally understood means to gain attention. The casserole march has its origins as a means to call attention to problems facing the community that the power structure is not addressing, using a method that is hard to ignore. In the past, this form of activism has been used to draw attention to education reform, starvation, government corruption, inequality in resources, and more.

Potbanging citizen media

Play #potbanging but take care of your children #OK13Global #globalNOISE

While hundreds of actions are expected to take place covering a wide range of issues, protesters are also planning to take over social media with a help from the crowds.

Starting on October 10, an international Twitter campaign aims at leading the hashtags#GlobalNoise#13O#O13 and #OK13Global to worldwide trending topics. Follow @potbangingfor updates and check their lists of local organizers on Twitter.

OccupyTheComms crowd-sourced media pagefor #GlobalNoise will collect all the relevant media related to the action using real time tools during October 13, and Livestream.com/globalnoise and GlobalRevolution.tv will be used to gather different livestreams from the world from October 12 onwards.

An interactive map with live updates (such as tweets, pictures, and links to livestreams), based on the work of the Spanish Voces25s, is in the works.

Other online platforms for interaction include Facebookoccupii.orginteroccupy hubmailinglist,mumble meetings and gmail.com.

Global Voices.

Democratic Republic of Congo – Poster critical of Congolese police authorized by Belgian court

11 Oct

11 October 2012

Source: Journaliste en danger
(JED/IFEX) – 4 October 2012 – Journaliste en Danger (JED) welcomes a decision made by the Belgian court, on 3 October 2012, to authorize a poster entitled “The Chebeya Scandal: A State Crime?” by Belgian filmmaker Thierry Michel. Michel had been sued by John Numbi – the former Inspector General of the Congolese National Police – for attacks upon his honour and dignity. Numbi also sought to have Michel’s poster banned. The Belgian court declared Numbi’s claim unfounded and ordered him to pay a sum of 1320 Euros to the journalist.

John Numbi was the Inspector General of the Congolese National Police. He is currently suspended from his duties because of a lawsuit against members of the national police over the murder of Floribert Chebeya – a prominent Congolese human rights activist – and his driver Fidèle Bazana. This lawsuit is currently pending on appeal before the Supreme Military Court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC.)

According to information received by JED, the court of Liège dismissed Numbi considering that the film in question seems to provide good information on this murder case”, and “as presented, that is to say with the title as a question, the poster represents an appropriate balance between, on the one hand, the implication of a public authority and their impunity, and other hand, the unanswered questions in this regard.”

JED welcomes this great victory for press freedom and freedom of expression over the protection of the image of a public figure exercising his functions. With this turn of events, JED urges the Congolese authorities to remove all barriers blocking the entry of Michel into the DRC. JED also urges the authorities to allow for the dissemination of his documentary film.

via IFEX

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