Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up, 13 – 19 November 2010

Azerbaijan: ‘Court Defies European Court Instruction to Free Journalist’, 13 November 2010

 The Azerbaijan Supreme Court has refused to abide by a binding European Court of Human Rights judgment to release a wrongfully imprisoned, outspoken journalist. On November 11, 2010, the extraordinary plenary meeting of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court reviewed the October European Court of Human Rights findings that Fatullayev had been wrongly charged and imprisoned. The Supreme Court dropped the criminal charges involved in the case, but ignored the key requirement in the judgment to free Fatullayev immediately.

Zambia: ‘Zambian Watchdog writers fear for their lives as government hunts them down’

The entire Zambia security system is currently hunting for the editors, publishers and sources of the Zambian Watchdog. The Watchdog team is shocked that the entire security system of Zambia could be mobilized to hunt and capture journalists just for doing their job. The Watchdog views this as an assault on freedom of expression and press freedom and are therefore seeking protection from International organizations. They are wondering whether it is now the policy of president Rupiah Banda’s government to mobilize the government security system against journalists for just doing their jobs.

UK: ‘The words you read next will be your last: Because I’m going to strangle every single one of you …’ 15 November 2010

Last week 27-year-old accountant Paul Chambers lost an appeal against his conviction for comments he made back in January via the social networking hoojamflip Twitter, venting his frustration when heavy snow closed the airport, leaving him unable to visit his girlfriend. Mercifully, in this case, before any innocent blood could be shed, Chambers was arrested, held in a police cell, and convicted of sending a “menacing electronic communication”. His appeal was rejected last week by Judge Jacqueline Davies who described his original tweet as “menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.”

 Macedonia: ‘Freedom of expression threatened’, 16 November 2010

Reporters have been made to appear on lists of undesirable persons while the prime minister openly recommends distrust of certain media. People who dissent from the government’s line or disagree with the ruling party are publicly declared traitors and pressurised to keep silent.

 G20: ‘Anti-G20 protester launches constitutional challenge’, 15 November 2010

 Montreal’s Jaggi Singh, one of dozens of community organizers arrested even before last summer’s G20 protests began, has launched a constitutional challenge against his bail conditions.–anti-g20-protester-launches-constitutional-challenge

 Canada: ‘Where’s the respect for free speech at universities?’ 17 November 2010

 Christie Blatchford, the Globe and Mail columnist and author of several books known for her piercing writing, was prevented from giving a speech on her new book — Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us — by five young protesters who commandeered the stage. According to them, Blatchford’s book — which deals with the ongoing occupation of a subdivision development in Ontario by the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve in a dispute over title to the land — makes her a racist.

 UK: ‘How ‘free’ is ‘free speech’ on Twitter?’ 18 November 2010

 Now, telling the world your opinion on President Barack Obama or the streetcar or what you had for breakfast is only a click away. But how some countries are handling this new opinionated platform is setting some interesting precedence. For example, how “free” is “free speech” when you’re dealing with social media?

 Iran : ‘Two German reporters charged with espionage in Iran’ 17 November 2010

Iranian authorities announced on Tuesday that two German reporters for Bild am Sonntag will be charged with espionage. They were arrested in October while interviewing the son of a woman sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by these developments and calls on Iranian authorities to drop the charges and release the reporters immediately.

 Zimbabwe: ‘Zimbabwe detains reporter on criminal defamation charges’, 19 November 2010

Reporter Nqobani Ndlovu remained in police custody today despite expectations that he would appear in court on criminal defamation charges, local journalists told CPJ. Police in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, arrested Ndlovu, a reporter for the private weekly Standard, on Wednesday and charged him with criminal defamation in relation to an article concerning the cancellation of police promotion examinations, according to local journalists.

Singapore: ‘British minister ‘dismayed’ by author’s Singapore jail term’, 19 November 2010

A minister has said he is “dismayed” by the prison sentence handed to a British author convicted by a Singapore court of insulting the city-state’s judiciary.



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