Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly Round-up 18 June – 24 June 2011

Netherlands: “Netherlands Split as anti-Muslim MP is cleared of hate charge”

An anti-Muslim MP who compared the Koran to Mein Kampf has been acquitted of charges of inciting hatred. The judge ruled that the MP’s comments constituted criticisms of a religion and were therefore protected by freedom of speech. A lawyer announced he intends to take the case of the European Court.

Link: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/netherlands-split-as-antimuslim-mp-is-cleared-of-hate-charge-2302042.html

Sri Lanka: “Crippling blow to freedom of expression”

The Right to Information Bill presented by the opposition United National Party was defeated by a government majority in the parliament.  The Bill set out the right to free access to official information, the establishment of a Freedom of Information Commission as well as the procedure to obtain said information.

Link: http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/06/sri-lanka-government-rejects-right-to.html  

USA: “Health Experts Welcome Graphic New Warnings on US Cigarette Packages”,

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires now requires that graphic photos and messages cover half of cigarette packages and constitute 20% of cigarette ads. The new health warnings are to be displayed by September 2012. Cigarette companies argue that the requirements violate freedom of speech.

Link: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Health-Experts-Welcome-Graphic-New-Warnings-on-US-Cigarette-Packages-124384294.html  

Americas: “International press organisations concerned at deterioration of fundamental freedoms”

The Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations expressed concern over deterioration of press freedom and freedom of speech in the Americas.

Link: http://www.ifex.org/americas/2011/06/23/fundamental_freedoms/

Egypt: “Two more journalists to be tried by court martial over story about army”

The editor and one of the reporters of the newspaper Al-Fajr are to be prosecuted before a military court rather than a civilian court for quoting an army officer in an article about torture. The reporter is charge of publishing false information liable to disturb public security and the editor of negligence. Other journalists and bloggers face harassment and prosecution.   

Link: http://en.rsf.org/egypt-two-more-journalists-to-be-tried-20-06-2011,40491.html

Morocco: “Moroccan king presses ahead with reforms”

The King announced profound constitutional reforms. Provisions relating to freedom of expression and access to information are to be included in the new constitution.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=46795

Sudan: “Ten Journalists Hounded and Prosecuted for Covering Human Rights Violations”

Reporters Without Borders condemns the judicial harassment of 10 journalists and media contributors in Khartoum covering human rights violations by security forces. All had condemned the arrest, torture and gang-rape of human rights activist Safia Ishag and are charged with defamation and the spreading of false information about security forces.

Link: http://en.rsf.org/sudan-ten-journalists-hounded-and-18-06-2011,40485.html

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