Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 16-20 January 2012

The United States

A number of prominent websites including Wikipedia and Google joined in a protest against two bills being debated before the United State Congress. The bills, Stop Piracy Online Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), would allow the Department of Justice to seek court orders to block websites associated with piracy from search engine results. Following the internet movement, members of Congress have begun to withdraw their support for the bills. For more information see:  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16590585

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/19/tech/sopa-blackouts/index.html?iref=allsearch

Kenya

The Centre for Law and Democracy published its analysis of a Kenyan draft bill on rights to information. The bill includes a number of reforms including increased procedural safeguards for policing this right, and ensuring all persons present in Kenya have equal rights to information. For more information, including the Centre for Law and Democracy’s analysis and the text of the draft bill, see:

http://www.law-democracy.org/?p=1600

Turkey

A crowd of over 10,000 people marched through Istanbul on Thursday in remembrance of an Armenian journalist and freedom of speech proponent, Hrant Dink. Dink was murdered five years ago by a Turkish teenager described as “ultra nationalist.” Protestors expressed outrage at the decision to release some alleged accomplices to the murder, while other Turkish journalists are being detained as a result of the content of their writing. For more information, see:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/19/world/meast/turkey-journalist-anniversary/index.html?iref=allsearch

Hungary 

The European Union decided this week to begin infringement proceedings against member-State Hungary, based on recent changes to its constitution. These changes would, among other results, have the effect of limiting freedom of expression. Hungary was asked to amend some of these reforms to comply with EU law. This action has not been taken by Hungarian officials, and as such the EU and other international entities have decided to take further measures to protect these democratic principles. For more information, see:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/17/world/europe/hungary-eu-ruling/index.html?iref=allsearch

Chile

Following public outcry, Chile’s government has decided to rethink legislation which would enable Chilean police to seize images from news media without prior court authorization. Opponents of the law argued the law would affect the neutrality of journalists, and would turn photographers into tools of police investigations. On Thursday, the government announced they would withdraw the proposed legislation from consideration. For more information, see:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/americas/chile-withdraws-proposed-law-enabling-police-to-seize-images-from-media-without-court-orders/2012/01/19/gIQA2N0vBQ_story.html

Malta

On Tuesday, Malta’s government officials announced an overhaul of the current laws regulating film and theatre content. The new legislation would abolish much of the government’s role in setting industry requirements, and would instead make recommendations and manage public complaints, if necessary. For more information, see:

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20120117/local/censorship-laws-for-theatre-and-cinema-being-lifted.402732

Ghana

The Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) has issued a strong condemnation of violence towards journalists in Ghana. The statement notes the importance of free expression to a functioning democracy, and asks for the Inspector General of Police to conduct immediate inspection into the violence towards journalists in Ghana, particularly into the recent attacks on reporters covering the Accra Human Right Court last Thursday, January 12, 2012. For more information, see:

http://www.modernghana.com/news/371984/1/gja-condemns-police-attack-on-journalists.html

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