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IFEX Communiqué 21 June

----| IFEX COMMUNIQUÉ VOL 14 NO 25 | 21 JUNE 2005 | ------

The IFEX Communiqué is the weekly newsletter of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), a global network of 64 organisations working to defend and promote the right to free expression. IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (

The IFEX Communiqué is also available in French (, Spanish (, Russian ( and Arabic (

--------------| Visit the IFEX website: |------------------

1. International PEN Congress Highlights Threats to Writers

2. Vietnam: IFEX Members Raise Free Expression Concerns
3. Iraq: Journalists' Conference Calls for Safety Measures
4. Morocco Puts Squeeze on Western Sahara News
5. Guatemala: Top Court Rules Against Insult Laws

6. ARTICLE 19 Promotes Access to Information in Cambodia
7. Canadian Civil Society Urges Respect for Free Expression at WSIS

8. International Media Support
9. OpenNet Initiative - Internet Filtering in Iran

10. Joan Shorenstein Fellowships at Harvard
11. Yale World Fellows Programme


------------------------------------------------- FREE-EXPRESSION SPOTLIGHT


For writers in many countries, putting pen to paper can be a highly risky move. Those who challenge governments or speak out against human rights abuses are often jailed, legally harassed or worse, killed. Their plight was put on the world stage last week in Bled, Slovenia, where more than 250 writers from around the globe met for International PEN's annual world congress.

International PEN called attention to threats facing writers around the world, saying Internet censorship and anti-terrorism laws have harmed writers and placed a chill on freedom of expression in a number of countries. The organisation highlighted censorship in Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Tibet, and the dangers of reporting in Iraq, where 62 media workers have been killed since March 2003.

International PEN also urged Iranian authorities to release writer and lawyer Nasser Zarafshan from jail, where he is reportedly near death as a result of a hunger strike (see:

At the congress, International PEN highlighted several developments in the past year, including a membership that has grown to 141 independent PEN Centres and a network that provides assistance and temporary refuge to persecuted writers in 20 cities world-wide. PEN says it hopes to see new PEN Centres established in Central Asia, Africa and the Arab World to support writers and free expression in those regions. In November 2005, it plans to launch a global campaign against impunity, in memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the writer who was killed by the military in 1995 for speaking out against environmental destruction in Nigeria's oil-rich delta region.

Visit these links: - International PEN: - International PEN 2004 Annual Report: - Congress Programme: - Anti-Terrorism, Writers and Free Expression: -------------------------------------------------------- REGIONAL NEWS:



As Vietnam's prime minister, Phan Van Khai, met in Washington, D.C. on 21 June 2005 for an historic state visit with US President George W. Bush, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), PEN Canada and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) used the occasion to highlight concerns about censorship and other human rights abuses in Vietnam.

Human Rights Watch says that while Vietnam has taken steps in recent years to liberalise its economy, including signing a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S., the gains have not been accompanied by improvements in human rights. The IFEX member has documented a wide range of human rights abuses, including the imprisonment of hundreds of dissidents who call for democratic reforms or use the Internet to promote human rights and religious freedom.

"Government critics, including prominent writers and former Communist Party members, are effectively silenced and isolated from the outside world," says Human Rights Watch. "The government has cut or tapped their telephone lines, stationed police in front of their homes, or placed them under surveillance and house arrest."

CPJ, RSF and PEN Canada are calling for the immediate release of writers Pham Hong Son, Nguyen Khac Toan, and Nguyen Vu Binh, who have been imprisoned for using the Internet to transmit reports, opinions, and information banned in the government-controlled traditional media.

On the day of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's state visit, a US Congressional subcommittee held a hearing on human rights in Vietnam in which Congressmen raised concerns about the lack of media freedom in the country. Bush and Khai had been expected to address U.S. concerns about human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam, but no further mention of the concerns were made.

Visit: - Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper on Vietnam: - CPJ Letter to Bush: - RSF: - PEN Canada: - US Congress Raises Human Rights Concerns: - Congressional Committee on International Relations: - Statement by the White House:



More than 200 Iraqi journalists attending a landmark conference on media have called for greater press freedom and protection for media workers in Iraq, report Index on Censorship and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The 14-15 June 2005 conference, organised by the independent Iraqi National Communication and Media Commission (INCMC), was the first major conference of Iraqi journalists in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Participants discussed a myriad of issues, including journalists' rights, safety issues, access to information and democracy.

The IFJ raised the need for a charter of journalists' rights, including employment protection, and more action to reduce risks facing Iraqi reporters. More than 80 journalists and media staff have been killed in Iraq - 80 per cent of them Iraqi - since the US-led invasion in March 2003, according to the group.

IFJ says the major challenges to achieving press freedom in Iraq are the use of the media for political in-fighting and poor working conditions for journalists. The group adds that it is essential for journalists to work together to confront the media crisis in the country. "Iraqi journalists themselves must define the way they want to organise and create genuine editorial independence," says IFJ General Secretary Aidan White.

IFJ has been assisting the Iraqi National Journalists Advisory Panel, which works to unite the country's various journalists' groups and promote journalists' rights and press freedom. It has begun to distribute copies of the IFJ's "Live News" safety manual to local journalists and conduct workshops on safety training in partnership with the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

See: - IFJ: - Index on Censorship: - Options for Media Development in Iraq: - Report by International Media Support: - INSI:


The Western Sahara conflict is little known outside of Morocco. A vast desert territory that has been occupied by Moroccan troops since 1975, it is home to indigenous Sahrawis who continue to resist occupation and demand political independence. Not surprisingly, the Moroccan government is not keen to have the world scrutinising its operations.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) says journalists who report on the conflict are routinely harassed. Since the beginning of April 2005, at least 10 journalists have been attacked, arrested or expelled from the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune, where Sahrawis have been holding demonstrations against the Moroccan occupation.

Moroccan authorities have used various methods to control information about the demonstrations, first barring reporters from entering Western Sahara, then organising strictly controlled guided tours of the territory. In other cases, police have used violence to intimidate the press. Salama Zoukani, a technician with a local television station, was brutally beaten by security forces on 25 May 2005. Another journalist, Maria Cristina Berasain of Spain's Basque-language daily "Berria", was expelled from Western Sahara on 2 June.

Morocco seized most of Western Sahara after Spain withdrew from the territory in 1975. Western Sahara is rich in phosphates, fish and oil, and has been at the centre of UN-brokered peace talks between Moroccan authorities and the independence-seeking Polisario Front for the past seven years.

Visit these links: - RSF: - Reuters Alertnet: - Wide Angle Special on Western Sahara: - Profile of Western Sahara:



Guatemala moved a step closer towards decriminalising press offences last week with a decision by the country's top court to temporarily suspend "desacato", or insult, provisions in the Penal Code, report the Guatemalan Association of Journalists (Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala, APG), the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

On 14 June 2005, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled that Articles 411, 412 and 413 of the Penal Code were incompatible with the country's constitution. The Penal Code imposes prison terms of between six months and three years for those who offend or slander government officials.

The ruling came in response to an appeal by the president of the Guatemalan Chamber of Journalism, Mario Fuentes Destarac, who challenged the constitutionality of the provisions. WPFC and IAPA say the ruling is a positive first step towards the permanent repeal of insult law provisions in Guatemala.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) - a body of the Organization of American States (OAS) - has declared insult laws contradictory to the American Convention on Human Rights, a treaty that Guatemala has signed. In many Latin American countries, governments continue to use them to silence criticism and shield officials from scrutiny. Only five countries have eliminated insult laws - Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru.

Visit these links: - WPFC: - APG: - IAPA: - Why Insult Laws are Insulting: - Resources on Criminal Defamation and Insult Laws: -------------------------------------------------------- CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS


Free expression advocates in Cambodia have called on the Cambodian government to draft and enact an access to information law, saying it would enhance the credibility of the government and provide a crucial tool for fighting corruption and poverty.

At a workshop organised by ARTICLE 19, Forum Asia and the Cambodia FOIA Coalition on 6-7 June 2005 in Phnom Penh, participants issued a resolution strongly recommending that the government "begin the development of a freedom of information law before the end of 2005," with the aim of enacting the law in 2006. The resolution also said the law should fully comply with international standards on freedom of information, including the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Ninety participants attended the workshop, which featured a keynote speech by H.E. Om Yen Tieng, advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. The workshop was funded by the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights.

Read the full resolution:

Visit: - ARTICLE 19: - Forum Asia: - UN Rapporteur on Free Expression: - European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights:


Canadian civil society organisations have called on participants at the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia to respect the right to freedom of expression and apply that principle to the summit itself.

"Governments should not harass, threaten, or imprison individuals who exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression. Individuals and organizations that defend human rights should have access to Summit activities, the right to speak, and unfettered access to the Internet," said the groups in a statement issued at a May 2005 conference in Winnipeg, Canada.

The purpose of the 13-15 May conference, organised by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and attended by 200 individuals, was to canvass the views of Canadian civil society ahead of phase two of the WSIS, which takes place in Tunis in November 2005.

The groups underlined the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlines the rights of every individual, and, in particular, Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." They said the WSIS action plan that is to be launched in Tunis should not contain anything that would impair, restrict, or contradict this right.

They also said security considerations and the demands of the battle against crime, including terrorism, should not be used to justify Internet censorship and other restrictions on freedom of expression and press freedom.

The statement will soon be available on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO website:

See: - WSIS: - OSCE/RSF Recommendations for Guaranteeing Internet Freedom: - Serious Concerns for Human Rights in Tunisia: - IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group: -------------------------------------------------------- USEFUL WEBSITES:


International Media Support (IMS), a Danish organisation that provides emergency assistance to media in conflict areas, has published a survey of the latest developments in media rebuilding efforts in Iraq. "Media Development in Iraq: An Overview of International Support 2003-2005" is a valuable primer on the main international organisations that are doing media assistance work in the country. Visit:

IMS has also done a survey of Darfur, Sudan, focusing on solutions for meeting the information needs of the region's 1.8 million internally displaced people: Visit:


The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has released a new report, "Internet Filtering in Iran", which reveals that the country's Internet filtering system is one of the most extensive in the world. It also shows how US corporations, including Secure Computing, are helping Iran develop its Internet filtering regime. ONI, a research partnership between the universities of Toronto, Harvard and Cambridge, has also done studies on Internet censorship in China, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Visit: -------------------------------------------------------- AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS


The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy offers a one-semester Fellowship at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Fellows are domestic or international journalists, scholars or policymakers who are active in the fields in which press, politics and public policy are highly relevant, including polling, public opinion, elections and the like.

Four to six fellowships are awarded each semester. International applicants must be able to read, write, and speak English fluently. The purpose of the Fellowship is to enrich and complement participants' knowledge of the field of press, politics and public policy. The primary focus of the Fellowship is a paper, article or book on a topic examining and analysing the influence of the press on politics and public policy in the domestic or international arena. Fellows participate in the Center's seminars and organized programs, attend public lectures, and explore other cultural and intellectual activities at the university. The Fellowship programme is not a degree or journalism training programme.

For more information, visit:

Contact: Edith Mead Holway, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; Email:; Telephone: 617-495-8269; Fax: 617-495-8696.


The Yale World Fellows Programme is a 13-week intensive programme designed to provide emerging leaders around the world with an intellectually stimulating environment in which to analyse issues, debate goals and values, and network with international contacts. Past participants have included journalists, human rights activists and environmental advocates.

Each year, 16 to 18 individuals are selected to participate in academic study programmes tailored to meet each individual's needs and interests. Fellows are expected to interact with Yale faculty, students and alumni, attend a weekly speaker series, and participate in a Yale World Fellows Seminar on critical global issues. The scope of the World Fellows Programme is interdisciplinary, flexible and capable of meeting the needs of Fellows across a wide range of fields. The programme also provides participants with an expanding network of contacts and connections both on campus and off to further enhance their future effectiveness.

Nominations and applications for the Yale World Fellows Programme are solicited from around the world. A Fellowship candidate must be a citizen of, and reside in, a country other than the United States. The deadline for 2006 Fellowships is 13 January 2006. Successful applicants will be notified in April 2006.

Applications must be completed online:



13 JUNE 2005

Nepal - IFJ protests indiscriminate arrests of journalists in Kavre (IFJ) - alert

Nepal - Four dozen journalists arrested in Kathmandu (CEHURDES) - alert update

Nepal - Journalists injured as protests continue; another nine journalists briefly detained in Butwal (CPJ) - alert update

Sudan - High Court decision forces "Khartoum Monitor" to close (RSF) - alert update

Tunisia - Lawyer's prison sentence confirmed at new "sham" hearing (RSF) - alert update

Greece - Television crew harassed while filming police action (GHM) - alert

Algeria - RSF launches new campaign to defend independent press against judicial threats (RSF) - press release

Guatemala - Journalists' association calls for elimination of "desacato" laws (APG) - alert

14 JUNE2005

Ethiopia - Prominent newspaper distributor imprisoned (CPJ) - alert

Tunisia - IFEX-TMG members urge Tunisian authorities to release books blocked through the legal submission procedure (IFEX-TMG) - joint action

Mexico - Guadalajara university pulls gay radio programme (RSF) - alert

Iraq - RSF welcomes release of hostages Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun (RSF) - alert update

Equatorial Guinea - Police seize 200 copies of opposition newspaper (RSF) - alert

Burundi - Journalist arrested by national intelligence agency after reporting president "depressed" (CPJ) - alert

15 JUNE 2005

Zimbabwe - Former "Daily News" journalists served with summonses (MISA) - alert update

Algeria - More journalists fined and sentenced to prison (CALP) - alert

China - Microsoft censors Chinese version of its blog tool (RSF) - alert

Russia - Court sentences journalist to five years in prison colony (CPJ) - alert

Zambia - "The Post" newspaper vendors assaulted by armed group (IPI) - alert

16 JUNE 2005

Ecuador - Police tap television journalists' phone calls (RSF) - alert

Iran - Jailed dissidents denied medical care (Human Rights Watch/RSF) - alert update

Chile - IAPA delivers recommendations on strengthening press freedom to Senate president and calls for elimination of insult laws (IAPA) - alert

Serbia and Montenegro - Editor receives death threats (IPI) - alert

Russia - Authorities detain journalist in bid to prevent coverage of local meeting (CJES) - alert

Chile - Director of indigenous people's magazine jailed a second time for same case (RSF) - alert

17 JUNE 2005

Peru - Loreto Patriotic Front members assault reporter and camera operator in Iquitos (IPYS) - alert

Afghanistan - Television journalists threatened (CPJ) - alert update

Egypt - CPJ disturbed by reports of intimidation of journalists by security forces (CPJ) - alert update

Nepal - Detained journalists released; IFJ concerned over repeated police interference of journalists' right to protest (IFJ) - alert update

Tanzania - Newspaper and publisher face crippling lawsuit (MISA) - alert

Uzbekistan - Correspondent released after serving "hooliganism" sentence (CPJ) - alert

Philippines - Anti-wiretapping law gags Filipino journalists, says IFJ (IFJ) - alert

Morocco - Journalists in Western Sahara face assaults, arrests and harassment (RSF) - alert

Democratic Republic of Congo - Journalist held for questioning in Tshikapa (JED) - alert

China/European Union - IPI concerned over EU's failure to criticise China for its gross violations of press freedom and freedom of expression (IPI) - alert

United Arab Emirates - Dubai-based journalist harassed, detained (CPJ) - alert

Sri Lanka - RSF encouraged by arrest of suspect in TamilNet editor's murder (RSF) - alert update


The "IFEX Communiqué" is published weekly by the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX). IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression ( on behalf of the network's 64 members.

The views expressed in the "IFEX Communiqué" are the responsibility of the sources to which they are attributed.

The "IFEX Communiqué" grants permission for its material to be reproduced or republished as long as it is credited as the source.


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