Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly Round Up, 29 July- 5 August

Dominican Republic: Critical Journalist Murder

Director of the magazine La Voz de la Verdad and host of Caña TV programme, José Agustín Silvestre, was brutally murdered after he accused members of the government and a priest of being involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. This follows a local prosecutor’s filing of a defamation complaint against the deceased, Silvestre, in May.


Saudi Arabia: Stop Trial of Journalist

Human Rights Watch has called for the head of the Saudi Judiciary to cease all criminal proceedings against a Saudi journalist who has been charged with defaming a local official. The journalist wrote an article about alleged attempts by an official health inspector to extort money from shopkeepers in Huta, a town south of Riyadh. Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch stated, “Silencing reporters who try to expose corruption sends the wrong message to Saudi officials and the public.”


Africa: Windhoek +20 Draft Declaration Released

The African Platform on Access to Information Working Group has released the second draft of its declaration. The declaration sets out minimum standards for access to information on a national scale and is part of an intercontinental initiative to promote access to information in Africa. It can be found online at


India’s New Internet Rules Criticized

Internet users, bloggers and activists argue that newly implemented internet regulations in India are amongst the world’s most restrictive. Under the new regulations website service providers are required to remove content that is “harmful,” “blasphemous,” or “insulting” to India or any other nation within 36 hours of being notified of a complaint. The government states that the rules maintain a balance between freedom and security, but the regulations nevertheless have sparked a vivid debate regarding free speech.


Vietnam: Ensure Fair Hearing for Legal Scholar

Human Rights Watch discovered serious procedural violations in the 4 April  trial of legal scholar Cu Huy Ha Vu in Vietnam. Dr Vu was convicted on national security charges of propaganda against the Vietnamese government. “Dr Vu was jailed for political reasons in a trial that violated his rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Vietnamese authorities should at least do the right thing now with a fair and independent appeals hearing.”


Egypt: Mubarak Trial Will Be Televised, Judge Says

Presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat announced his decision to allow Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s trial to be broadcast on Egyptian state television. Judge Refaat explained that his decision was based in the court’s “belief in the right of the people to be at ease.”


Sri Lankan Journalist attacked ‘with iron bars’

An ethnically Tamil News editor of the Tamil-language daily newspaper Uthayan, suffered a brutal attack in a northern area that was formerly held by separatist Tamil rebels. Due to the newspaper’s pro-nationalist Tamil stance, many Uthayan’s journalists have been targeted in recent years. At least four Uthayan journalists have been killed since May 2006.



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