Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 7 May to 13 May 2011.

Mexico: 20,000 protest against drug violence in Mexico City

Javier Sicilia has led a four day protest in Mexico City to express feelings about the large number of deaths caused by drug-related violence and the government’s response. Sicilia’s son was killed earlier this year.


Russia: Islamic journalist killed in North Caucasus

In Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, a young Islamic journalist was killed on Sunday. This was one of the recent attacks suspected by militants who frequently attack security forces, police and civilians in the area. Yakhya Magomedov worked for the As-Salam newspaper.


Egypt: Hundreds gather in Cairo to protest Muslim-Christian clashes

Sectarian tensions led to demonstrations in Egypt in an attempt to address strained Muslim-Christian relations. The majority of protestors were Coptic Christians, who account for nearly 10% of the country’s population. They were protesting Egypt potentially becoming a religious state as a response to the riots provoked last month by the ultraconservative Muslim movement, Salafis.


European Court of Human Rights: Mosley loses press privacy bid

Max Mosley, former head of motor-racing FIA and recent news headliner for alleged sexual exploits, had his case dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights. Mosley’s case focused on forcing newspapers to warn their stories’ subjects before exposing their private lives. The harm in such legislation would be that people would get injunctions before the stories ever reach the public. The Court had to strike a balance between the individual’s right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression.


Australia: Julian Assange awarded Australian peace prize

Founder of the controversial Wikileaks, Julian Assange has been awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation’s gold medal for his “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights.” Wikileaks first gained notoriety by publishing confidential US diplomatic cables. Despite Assange’s own legal battles with sexual assault charges in Sweden, and potential espionage charges in the US, he has also been commended for his fight for people’s right to know.


Thailand: The Fallout for Chiding the Royals in Thailand

On Wednesday, Thammasat University professor, Somsak Jeamteerasakul, was faced by riots and ultimately charged by the military for “defaming, insulting or threatening leadings members of the royal family.” The belief is that the monarch is feeling threatened by a new generation of people seeking to break up the monarchy. Mr. Somsak believes the charges relate to two letters he published on the Internet criticising the princess. Earlier last year, Mr. Somsak had been vocal about envisioned changes to the Thai monarchy.


Honduras: Local TV journalist gunned down in north, motive almost certainly linked to work

The host of a news show on a Honduran TV station, Omega Visión, Héctor Francisco Medina Polanco, 35 was murdered on Wednesday. Reporters Without Borders believes his death is almost certainly due to his profession as a journalist, who often criticized the government. This is not the first attack aimed at silencing journalists.

United States: US to spend $30m fighting internet censorship

According to Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state for human rights, the US has initiated a strategy aimed at fighting online censorship, particularly in countries with histories of repression, such as China and Iran. Part of the strategy involves finding censored information and putting it back on the internet somewhere for it to be found by internet users. The project, created to encourage online civil liberty, will cost $30million.


United Kingdom: Secret Archive of Ulster Troubles Faces Subpoena

The United Kingdom has subpoenaed the oral histories of two Irish Republican Army members who had been told that their interviews would be kept sealed until their death. British officials plan on using the material in a criminal investigation into the disappearances of at least nine people in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. The use of the Boston College oral history collection for criminal investigations sets a precedent that archivists find alarming. This may undermine the confidentiality agreements Boston College promises those who are interviewed for the archives, damaging the university’s research.



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