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China – Report on artistic expression in China submitted to UNESCO

23 Oct

ARTICLE 19 urges UNESCO to accept our shadow report on the state of artistic expression in China, which finds that the country has failed to create an environment conducive for diverse cultural expressions.

The shadow report is published today to mark the seven year anniversary of the adoption of the UNESCO convention on cultural expressions. The convention requires states to submit a report every four years on how they are implementing provisions to protect and promote cultural expression in their national laws and policies. 2012 is the first year that countries have been asked to present these national reports to the UN body.

While the convention on cultural expression encourages states to include the opinions of civil society in their quadrennial reports, ARTICLE 19 is concerned that few states will actually do so.

“ARTICLE 19 has produced this shadow-report on China to ensure that the review process of the implementation of the UNESCO convention does not amount to a bureaucratic, box-ticking exercise. For the Convention to be a meaningful instrument, the review of its implementation must be open and transparent and it must allow for a range of voices and perspectives to be shared, including those dissenting from official state reports.”

“Such a process is the norm with UN-based review processes, such as the Universal Periodic Review and the Human Rights Committee. We urge the UNESCO convention committee to accept ARTICLE 19’s shadow report and to truly recognise the importance of the voice of civil society.”

“By accepting the report, they will be laying a precedent that this convention will ultimately defend the diverse cultural environment that we all want,” Callamard added.

ARTICLE 19’s shadow report argues that China has failed to create an environment conducive for diverse cultural expressions. The constitutional and legal framework , including legislation, contain a number of provisions that undermine the state’s obligations relating to the protection and promotion of diverse cultural expressions, and the right to freedom of artistic expression more broadly.

China does not protect cultural expressions at risk in its territory. It actually further endangers them by implementing a policy of cultural homogeneity.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted on 20 October 2005 and has been ratified by 124 states and encourages states to include civil society when writing the national report.

Read the full submission:
China_A19_artisticexpression_report.pdf (396 KB)

via IFEX

Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspends radio program

23 Oct

President Obiang's administration has indefinitely suspended a radio program after it aired commentary critical of an official. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

New York, October 23, 2012–Authorities in Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspended a radio program on a government-controlled outlet during a broadcast on Friday that included criticism of the president of the Supreme Court, according to local journalists and news reports.

The show, “Cultura En Casa,” which covered local social issues and aired three times a week on RTVGE, was stopped at around 9:15 a.m. on Friday on the order of Benjamin Mangue Micha, assistant director of the station, according to local journalists. Local news blog Malabo News quoted Micha as saying that the censorship order came from above, and that no official written decision existed. Studio technicians replaced the interview with the show’s jingle, local journalists said.

The show was broadcasting an interview with Teresa Mbasogo, a guest who had asked to speak on the air as a representative of 18 families seeking justice for the arbitrary demolition of their homes and confiscation of their land in Bata, the economic capital, in November 2011, according to news reports. Mbasogo had criticized Chief Justice Martin Ndgong Nsue in the interview for his alleged personal involvement in the dispute.

“Cultura En Casa” did not air Monday as scheduled, local journalists said.

“Silencing ‘Cultura En Casa’ for its interview with an aggrieved citizen is an affront to all people’s right to receive and impart information,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “President Teodoro Obiang trumpets his government’s supposed strides on human rights, but this act of censorship reflects a determination to quash those rights. We call on the government to allow ‘Cultura En Casa’ to resume broadcasting immediately.”

CPJ ranked Equatorial Guinea fifth on its Most Censored Countries list. Obiang’s government tightly monitors and controls national airwaves in Equatorial Guinea, according to CPJ research. Government censors enforce rules that ensure the regime is portrayed positively; journalists who don’t comply risk prison under criminal statutes that include defamation. The president’s administration has dictated that state media praise him and refrain from covering political abroad.

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

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Blog: London statement urges strong steps to protect journalists

23 Oct

The London symposium brought together, from left, International Press Institute's Galina Sidorova; BBC's Peter Horrocks; William Horsley of Centre for Freedom of the Media; Guy Berger, UNESCO; and Rodney Pinder, International News Safety Institute. (Centre for Freedom of the Media)

More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press. They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The call for action comes ahead of the 2nd U.N. Inter Agency meeting on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, to take place November 22-23, in Vienna. There, implementation of the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will be debated by U.N. agency representatives, member states, and civil society. Participants will also mark the second International Day to End Impunity on November 23.   

With attacks against journalists consistently at unacceptable levels and nearly always unprosecuted, the Plan of Action represents an immense opportunity for the international community to mobilize on behalf of those whose reporting on war, corruption, human rights, and other issues serves as a keystone to the U.N.’s work. The plan proposes measures for U.N. agencies to improve coordination and develop programs to protect journalists and combat impunity in cases of anti-press violence.  It was drafted by UNESCO and approved by the U.N. Chief Executive Board this year, after some debate among countries including India, Brazil, and Pakistan.

Signatories to today’s statement were briefed last week at a symposium at the BBC’s new London headquarters, hosted by the Centre for Freedom of the Media and the BBC College of Journalism and organized in partnership with the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), the International Press Institute, CPJ, and International News Safety Institute.  

Guy Berger, Director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, called for active engagement by media outlets in the “potentially game-changing initiative” through reporting on attacks against journalists, making inquiries when a colleague is murdered, and monitoring the actions of governments and intergovernmental bodies.  

Now, the challenge for UNESCO and other agencies is sustaining the commitment and following through on the plan’s implementation; freedom of expression groups must ensure that follow-up by agencies, as well as by member states.

CPJ, which has consulted on development of the U.N. plan, participated in the symposium and endorses the London statement, the full text of which is available here.

[Reporting from London]

from Committee to Protect Journalists

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