Freedom of Expression News Roundup for 31st August 2010

Freedom of Expression News Round Up for 31st August 2010

South Africa: “Thloloe joins media freedom debate”

During a debate about media freedom held at Wits University, South Africa- Press Ombudsman, Joe Thloloe stated that the media should be able to review their own work without the African National Congress (ANC) forcing the media to be restricted.  He said that there is also to be a review of the entire system with the participation of the South African public. Thloloe states that journalists are opposed to being regulated by politicians but it is  unknown whether the media appeals tribunal will improve the quality of journalism in the country.  Professor Anton Harber, Head of the Wits Journalism School has stated that “Regulation is not what produces good journalism.”    

Ghana: “Journalism is not about freedom of expression – White”

At the 15th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards and 61st anniversary in Accra, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Aidan White has said that “Journalism is not about freedom of expression; journalism is about restrained, constrained expression because journalists must tell the truth, be independent and make themselves accountable.”  Mr. White spoke about the need in society for journalism to serve as a public good.

South Africa: “Gordimer: free expression threatened in S.Africa”

Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer and Andre Brink are taking action against the South African ANC government’s proposals which would effectively censor the media in the country.  One proposed law could lead to journalists being imprisoned for publishing information that the government wishes to remain secret.  The other proposed law would create a tribunal to discipline journalists.  Gordimer has created a statement detailing her condemnation of the proposals and has already gained support from writers.

Iran: “Iran bans mention of opposition leaders in press”

Iran has banned the publishing of the names or photographs of the leaders of the Green movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and the former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami.  The ruling was issued by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance on 18th August.  Since the election, eight newspapers have been shut down and a hundred journalists have been imprisoned.

Mexico: “UN, OAS Rips Mexico Over Freedom of Expression”

The U.N. and OAS rapporteurs for freedom of expression have criticised the government of Mexico over the violent killings of journalists in the country and have demanded that they be granted greater protection.  CNDH figures indicate that 64 journalists have been murdered and 11 have disappeared since 2000; this has been blamed on organised crime.  A major problem is the fact that the authorities do not have the power to conduct investigations into this.  A complete report is to be released next year and this would analyse the Mexican government’s implementation of the recommendations made.

South Africa: “First child defamation case heard”

In Johannesburg, the Constitutional Court had to decide whether children could be held liable for defamation.  The three former schoolboys of Hoerskool Waterkloof, put the head of their principal and deputy principal on the bodies of two gay body builders, as a joke and have been sued by the deputy principal, Louis Dey.  The case continues.

Germany: “German press freedom award for Mexican journalist and Iranian activist”

Pedro Matias Arrazola, a Mexican journalist, has won the 2010 Johann Phillipp Palm Prize for freedom of expression and the press, along with Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, an Iranian human rights activist.  The prize is given to those that fight “in an extraordinary way” to defend freedom of expression and the press.

Ukraine: “Two Ukrainian TV Stations Have Licences Revoked, Could Face Criminal Charges”

Two privately owned television channels, Tvi and 5 Kanal, have had -in the case of Tvi, their licence revoked and in the case of 5 Kanal, their licence limited.  These channels are the ones considered most independent and unbiased in Ukraine broadcasting.

Philippines: “SC backs GSIS employees’ right to rally”

The Supreme Court in Manila, the Philippines, has held that the employees of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) who wore red shirts at a hearing to show support for their union leader, were exercising their freedom of expression and speech.  The petition of the former President of GSIS and the General Manager that these employees were guilty of grave misconduct and/or that their conduct was prejudicial to the best interest of the service according to the GSIS rules and procedures, was dismissed.

Ukraine: “Germany’s Merkel voices concerns over media freedom in Ukraine at president Yanukovych’s visit”

The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has urged President Viktor Yanukovych to strengthen media freedoms in the Ukraine.  Reporters Without Borders, the global media rights organisation has complained of the prevalence of censorship, political pressure and attacks on journalists.  The President did not comment on the issue of media freedom, but stated that it is in Ukraine’s interest for democratisation to continue.

Philippines:Mindanao reporters oppose media blackout

The majority of journalists in Mindanao are opposed to the restrictions that the Philippine government may impose through a guideline for news coverage.  The journalists intend to join a protest against media restriction following the events of 23rd August in which eight Chinese hostages were killed, along with their hostage taker.  The media has been blamed for the disastrous outcome of the negotiations with the hostage taker.


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