IFEX Communiqué Vol 15 No 7 | 21 February 2006
----| IFEX Communiqué Vol 15 No 7 | 21 February 2006 | ------
The IFEX Communiqué is the weekly newsletter of the
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 ( http://www.cjfe.org/).
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----- | INDEX | ------
1. IFEX Conference Highlights Growing Threats to Free Expression
2. International: Internet Giants Criticised for Aiding Censorship
3. Europe: Human Rights Watch Urges Full Disclosure on Secret C.I.A.
4. Americas: IAPA Launches Anti-Impunity Radio Campaign
5. Ecuador: Two Journalists Murdered
6. Colombia: IAPA Urges Re-opening of Murder Case
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS & EVENTS:
7. International PEN to Hold Conference in Berlin
8. IPI to Host World Congress in Edinburgh
9. Incorporating Responsibility 2008
10. Stamp it Out
11. IPYS Invites Applications for Investigative Reporting Awards
ALERTS ISSUED BY THE IFEX
CLEARING HOUSE LAST
1. IFEX CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS GROWING THREATS TO FREE EXPRESSION
Free expression groups from around the world gathering in Brussels this week at the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) General Meeting have pledged to confront a "growing number of attacks against the media."
"It's no news to anyone here that the war on terror has put freedom of expression under threat," said Christopher Warren, President of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), in his opening speech on 20 February 2006. "Freedom of expression is in retreat in too many emerging democracies. However, in mature democracies, governments are also tightening access to information, restricting coverage in the name of national security and broadening the scope of unacceptable speech."
These trends were backed up by a report presented by the IFEX Clearing House, which highlighted a 20 per cent increase in the number of alerts on free expression violations issued in the last 18 months.
The IFEX General Meeting, taking place from 20 to 24 February, brings together more than 100 free expression activists, including IFEX members, from across the globe to discuss ways they can build effective campaigns to confront the growing threats to freedom of expression and press freedom. The meeting is hosted by IFJ.
At a panel session on terrorism and freedom of expression, Franco Frattini, Vice President of the European Commission and European Union Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, made a trenchant defense of free speech when he referred to the recent crisis surrounding the re-publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. "We must defend freedom of expression," he said. He called for "a frank, transparent and even tough exchange of views" which should include a "strong rejection of violence."
"Freedom of expression must be defended possibly most of all when ideas shock or disturb," said Frattini. "The difficulty is to reconcile free expression with the deepest individual convictions, which should also be respected." The Commissioner expressed his willingness to promote dialogue both within EU boundaries and in neighbouring countries (see his speech: http://tinyurl.com/laero).
Frattini referred to a number of initiatives being taken to encourage a dialogue between media representatives and faith leaders, but denied any political intention to impose further rules related to media ethics.
One of the
initiatives brought together European editors, broadcasters
and journalists in Brussels last week, where a joint
statement was issued affirming the media community's
determination to "create a meaningful dialogue that will
improve understanding between communities, that will reduce
tension and that will enhance the quality of journalism on
all sides." (See:
Commenting on the cartoon crisis at the IFEX conference, Shadaba Islam, a senior correspondent for Deutsche Presse Agentur, said it "has taken place in the context of a pervasive climate of intimidation against 20 million European Muslims, a situation which the EU has failed to address before the crisis erupted."
"The war against terrorism and extremism
is not only a struggle for
European values. Democrats from all countries are oppressed in what has to be described as a civil war for the soul of Islam. What is shocking here is the lack of understanding for basic Muslim values, despite an apparent political engagement for the establishment of a multi-religious society," she said.
Joining the debate, Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch, said "absolute freedom could also lead to absolutism. Freedom of speech should not endanger other people's lives."
Hélène Flautre, Chair of the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights, denounced double standards in the treatment of human rights in Europe. "Journalists should not be held back by external pressures," she said.
In the past two weeks, as violent protests against the cartoons spread throughout the Muslim world, journalists have been arrested and media outlets closed in Russia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria and Jordan for re-publishing the cartoons.
In another panel session, speakers highlighted concerns over media concentration. "The consolidation of media control can represent a subtle and discreet form of censorship," said Andrew Schwartzman, President and CEO of Media Access Project, a U.S. public-interest law firm that represents civil society groups on media regulation issues.
Jane Duncan, Executive
Director of the South Africa-based Freedom of
Expression Institute, pointed out that media concentration is not just a northern issue, "of concern only to people living in developed countries." The dangers of media concentration could be as bad or even worse in the South than in the North, she said.
Participants in the debate called for a strong commitment to pluralism, media quality and public service values in media policy making.
A follow-up report on the conference's proceedings will be featured in the "IFEX Communiqué" next week.
Visit these links for
updates on the cartoon crisis:
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3722&Language=EN
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/europe/russia21feb06na.html
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16487
what IFEX members are saying about the cartoon
- ARTICLE 19:
- Cartoonists Rights International:
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/europe/russia21feb06na.html
- Human Rights Watch:
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3685&Language=EN
- Index on Censorship:
- PEN Canada:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/appeal.php3
- World Association of Newspapers:
- World Press Freedom Committee:
2. INTERNATIONAL: INTERNET GIANTS CRITICISED FOR AIDING CENSORSHIP
IFEX members are at the
forefront of efforts to raise awareness about
Internet censorship in dozens of countries around the world, including
China. In particular, they are highlighting recent cases in which
Western Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, have aided Chinese authorities in censoring and repressing individuals who distributed sensitive information or criticised the government.
In the past month, Human Rights
Watch, Reporters Without Borders
(Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have testified in U.S. congressional hearings to raise concerns about the conduct of Western companies in China.
Yahoo has helped Chinese authorities prosecute three journalists - Shi Tao, Li Zhi, and Jiang Lijun - by providing information about them from their e-mail accounts. In Shi Tao's case, it led to the journalist's arrest and subsequent 10-year jail sentence in 2005 for "leaking state secrets abroad." In 2004, Shi Tao had sent an e-mail to an overseas website describing Chinese government instructions on how his newspaper should cover the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Microsoft has agreed to Chinese demands that it shut down blogs deemed "offensive", including the blog "Michael Anti", written by Zhao Jing. Google is now filtering out results in its Chinese search engine (google.cn) so that users in China are denied access to information on Tibet, Falun Gong and other sensitive topics. Meanwhile, Cisco Systems has supplied China with equipment and technologies that critics say enable authorities to control what the country's 100 million Internet users view online.
CPJ says these companies should use their influence in the marketplace to resist Chinese demands to monitor and control Internet activity in China. By aiding authorities in censoring citizens, U.S. Internet companies are helping China become "the model for [other] repressive regimes wishing to restrict the flow of information," CPJ argues.
Human Rights Watch notes that China is already exporting Internet monitoring technologies to other repressive governments, including Zimbabwe.
and Human Rights Watch say there should be legislation in
United States forbidding U.S.-based companies from turning over names or other information that would identify specific individuals to foreign governments, when that information is sought to regulate or punish free expression.
RSF recommends, among other measures, regulations barring U.S.-based companies from locating their host servers within repressive countries. "If the authorities of a repressive country desire to close down a publication hosted by a US company, they would have to request it under a procedure supervised by US judicial authorities," the group says.
Visit these links:
- Human Rights Watch's Testimony:
- CPJ Testimony:
- RSF Testimony: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16471
- Video of Congress Hearings:
- Washington Post Special on the Internet in China:
- OSCE Recommendations on Internet and Free Expression:
- Draft Global Online Freedom Act:
- U.S. State Department to Form Internet Censorship Task Force:
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH URGES FULL DISCLOSURE ON SECRET CIA
As two European bodies continue
investigations into the Central
Intelligence Agency's (CIA) unlawful detention and transfer of terrorist suspects in European countries, Human Rights Watch has called on governments to provide full disclosure about their participation in, or knowledge of, the U.S. agency's activities.
The IFEX member says evidence uncovered to date raises serious questions about the extent of European involvement in these abuses.
The Council of Europe, a
regional human rights body that oversees the
European Convention on Human Rights, has asked governments to provide, by 21 February 2006, explanations regarding European involvement in the CIA's detainee operations. Under article 52 of the Convention, European countries that have ratified the treaty are legally bound to provide this information.
The European Parliament has established an ad-hoc committee to hold hearings on the allegations, which begin on 23 February.
Human Rights Watch says Germany, Italy, Macedonia and Sweden need to provide specific information on transfers of terrorism suspects to places where they were at risk of torture. Poland and Romania must also respond to allegations that the CIA operated secret detention sites on their territory, the group says.
The existence of secret CIA detention sites in Europe first came to the public's attention in November 2005 following a report by "Washington Post" journalist Dana Priest.
Visit these links:
- IFEX: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/72398/
- Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/doc/?t=usa_antiterror
- Washington Post:
- Council of Europe:
- European Parliament: http://tinyurl.com/nbj74
- Frontline on the Torture Question:
- How the U.S. Outsources Torture:
4. IAPA LAUNCHES ANTI-IMPUNITY RADIO CAMPAIGN
American Press Association (IAPA) is teaming up with the
International Association of Broadcasting (IAB) to launch a radio advertisement campaign aimed at pressuring governments in the Americas region to investigate the unsolved murders of journalists.
The "Let's Put an End to
the Impunity Surrounding Crimes Against
Journalists" campaign consists of a series of two-minute "radio spots" on specific cases that stations in North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean, will be broadcasting in English and Spanish.
The first series of radio spots will only be aired on Spanish-language stations, featuring the cases of Colombian journalists Jaime Garzón and Nelson Carvajal, Mexican reporter Héctor Félix Miranda and Brazilian journalists Ronaldo Santa de Araujo, José Carlos Mesquita and Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva.
The radio advertisements invite listeners to visit IAPA's Impunity website, where they can sign online letters urging governments to investigate journalists' murders and bring perpetrators to justice.
According to IAPA, 290 journalists have been murdered in the Americas in the past 18 years.
The campaign is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
To listen to the first series of radio ads,
5. ECUADOR: TWO JOURNALISTS MURDERED
Police in Ecuador are investigating the murders of two journalists killed in the space of a week, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). At press time, it is unclear whether the journalists were killed because of their work.
On 13 February 2006, the body of radio reporter José Luis Léon Desiderio was found in a ditch near his home in the coastal city of Guayaquil.
As the host of the daily news
programme "Opinión" on Radio Minutera,
Léon often denounced gang violence and police inaction in the city, according to CPJ. Léon had received anonymous threatening phone calls at Radio Minutera warning of consequences if he continued to report on gangs.
A day after Léon was
murdered, freelance photographer Raúl Suárez
Sandoval was shot dead in the city of Durán, near Guayaquil. According to RSF, Sandoval was shot four times by an armed man in a car just after making a call from a public telephone. Suárez Sandoval was a contributor to the daily newspapers "La Hora Durandeña" and "La Prensa de Durán". There are reports that he may have owed debts to several people, notes RSF.
Visit these links:
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/americas/ecuador17feb06na.html
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16494
- IAPA Report on Ecuador:
- IPI Report: http://www.freemedia.at/wpfr/Americas/ecuador.htm
- CPJ Report: http://www.cpj.org/attacks04/americas04/ecuador.html
6. COLOMBIA: IAPA URGES RE-OPENING OF MURDER CASE
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) invites free expression supporters to write letters to the Colombian government calling for the re-opening of an investigation into the murder of journalist Mario Prada Díaz.
Prada Díaz was murdered in Sabana Torres, Santander
province, on 12
July 2002 after exposing municipal corruption. He was the editor of the weekly "Horizonte Sabanero". One year after his death, Colombia's
Attorney General's Office ended its investigation into the crime, saying that it was not possible to identify the guilty party.
For more information on the case, see:
sign an online letter, visit:
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS & EVENTS
7. INTERNATIONAL PEN TO HOLD CONFERENCE IN BERLIN
International PEN will be holding its annual
conference in Berlin,
Germany in May, where writers from more than 90 countries will be meeting to discuss the state of writing and freedom of expression in the world today.
The theme of the conference, running from 22 to 28
May 2006, is
"Writing in a World Without Peace" and will feature an opening speech by Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass. Various sessions will provide updates on the work of International PEN's committees, including the Writers in Prison Committee. Evening events will feature readings by exiled writers living in Germany and prominent authors from around the world.
For more information,
8. IPI TO HOST WORLD CONGRESS IN EDINBURGH
Press Institute (IPI) will hold its 2006 World
Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland from 27-30 May, bringing together editors, publishers and leading journalists from around the world to assess global press freedom issues.
Panel sessions will address the state of public service broadcasting in the world and the threats it faces in a globalising media environment; the influence of the Internet on journalism; the safety of journalists in conflict zones; source confidentiality in the context of the war on terrorism; and media coverage of international issues.
9. INCORPORATING RESPONSIBILITY 2008
Incorporating Responsibility (IR) 2008 is a campaign
focusing on the
Chinese government's human rights practices in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Run by Human Right in China, the campaign calls for the release of political prisoners, the removal of Internet censorship, and greater investment in social welfare to ensure equitable development.
10. STAMP IT OUT
Survival International, a British advocacy group that defends the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide, has launched a campaign aimed at improving media depictions of tribal peoples and raising awareness of harmful stereotypes.
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
11. IPYS INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING AWARDS
Journalists and media organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean have until 28 February 2006 to submit entries for one of the most prestigious journalism prizes in the region. The Awards for Best Investigative Reporting on Corruption in Latin America and the Caribbean honour the best exposés published or broadcast in 2005.
Administered by the Institute for Press and Society (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS) and Transparency International, the competition is open to journalists working in print, radio, television or online. The awards are underwritten by the Open Society Institute.
An international jury of eminent journalists will select a winner and two runners-up in May 2006. The winner receives a cash prize of US$25,000, while runners-up each receive cash prizes worth US$5,000.
For more information, contact
Gabriel Chavez-Tafur, IPYS: visit
- Transparency International: http://www.transparency.org/tilac
- Open Society Institute: http://www.soros.org/
ALERTS ISSUED BY THE IFEX CLEARING HOUSE DURING THE PAST WEEK
Belarus - Election undermined by state abuses against media (CPJ) - capsule report
Peru - IAPA pleased with sentencing of journalist's murderers (IAPA) - alert update
Iraq/United States - RSF calls for release of journalists held in Iraq and Guantanamo (RSF) - alert update
Nepal - Two journalists and relatives threatened by Maoist rebels
(CEHURDES) - alert
Russia - Court hits Russian branch of International PEN with hefty tax bill, freezes its bank account (WiPC) - alert
Russia - New NGO law an assault on civil society, says Human Rights
Watch (Human Rights Watch) - capsule report
Colombia - FLIP asks Vice President Santos for more government action to protect journalists working outside the capital (FLIP) - alert
Algeria/Yemen - Journalists arrested, newspapers closed over prophet cartoons (CPJ) - alert update
United States - Journalist with "Epoch Times" assaulted in Atlanta; newspaper accuses Chinese authorities (RSF) - alert
Iran - Journalist and writer Elham Afroutan, six other journalists arrested for satirical article (WiPC) - alert
Paraguay - Threatened journalist missing for 10 days (RSF) - alert
International - IPI supports editorial independence in cartoon controversy, calls on politicians to recognise this principle when appealing for calm (IPI) - alert
Namibia - Under pressure, government lifts media ban on opening of Parliament (MISA) - alert
Turkey - Publisher Ragip Zarakolu's trials postponed for a further two months (WiPC) - alert update
China - CPJ urges Internet companies to put principles before profits in China (CPJ) - alert update
Morocco/Syria - Moroccan newspaper says it is a victim of state-organized protests, Syrian journalist arrested over cartoons (CPJ) - alert update
Niger - Journalist remains in preventive detention on defamation charge (CPJ) - alert update
Cuba - RSF calls for journalist's release after prison doctors say he is "incurable in prison" (RSF) - alert update
Vietnam - Grave concerns for health of imprisoned Internet writer Pham Hong Son (WiPC) - alert update
Democratic Republic of Congo - RSF calls for independent probe into murder of journalist Franck Ngyke (RSF) - alert update
Democratic Republic of Congo - Radio station back on the air after 13 days of suspended broadcast (JED) - alert update
Democratic Republic of Congo - Editor faces possible one-year prison sentence for "insulting the government" (JED) - alert update
Peru - Journalist accused of libel, detained overnight by police (IPYS) - alert
Thailand - Telecommunications corporation offers to drop defamation lawsuit against media reformer (SEAPA) - alert update
Australia - Planned phone tap laws threaten press freedom (MEAA) - alert
Ecuador - Radio journalist murdered in Guayaquil; motive likely linked to his profession (RSF) - alert
Nepal - Journalists attacked by soldiers; three detained journalists released, a fourth remains in custody (CEHURDES) - alert update
Mexico - Suspected plot to silence journalist revealed (RSF) - alert update
Russia - New judge in trial of murdered journalist Klebnikov rejects appeal for open hearing (CPJ) - alert update
Kazakhstan - Former cabinet minister responsible for freedom of expression law murdered near Almaty (Adil Soz) - alert
International - All crises carry both great risks and great opportunities, says cartoonists' group, commenting on cartoon controversy (CRN) - alert update
Tunisia - Leading members of CNLT questioned and harassed by authorities; copies of "Kalima" newspaper confiscated (Norwegian PEN) - alert
International - Human Rights Watch urges Jordan, Yemen and Algeria to drop criminal charges for publication of cartoons and free journalists (Human Rights Watch) - alert update/capsule report
Nepal - RSF calls for release of seven journalists held in prison (RSF) - alert update
Algeria - Cartoonist Ali Dilem sentenced to one year in prison (RSF) - alert update