Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 28 January – 3 February 2012

Global: Twitter gives itself added flexibility to censor

Twitter Inc., the micro blogging service, now has the power to impose restrictions and to censor tweets on a country-by-country basis.  

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Rwanda:  Journalists jailed for genocide denial launch Supreme Court appeal

“Two Rwandan journalists imprisoned for insulting President Paul Kagame and denying genocide will appear before the country’s supreme court on Monday to argue for their freedom. The fates of Agnès Uwimana and Saïdati Mukakibibi, who are supported by an international team of lawyers and British human rights groups, have become test cases for free speech in the central African state. The ban on denial of the country’s 1994 genocide, which claimed as many as 800,000 lives, is being exploited as a legal weapon to silence political opponents, it is alleged. Rwanda insists the law is no different from those in Europe outlawing denial of the Holocaust.”

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UK: Sun editor – judges don’t have balance right on privacy

“The editor of the Sun has told MPs and peers that judges had ‘not got the balance right’ when it came to privacy cases involving celebrities and public figures.

Dominic Mohan, speaking before a joint parliamentary committee of examining reform of legislation relating to privacy and injunctions, said that he would ask judges to ‘balance it [their judgments] more in favour of freedom of expression’”.

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Iran: BBC Persian staff face Iranian intimidation

Iran is stepping up a campaign of intimidation and smears against the BBC’s Persian TV service, watched by millions of people in the Islamic Republic but loathed by the government in Tehran.

“Iran is carrying out a campaign of intimidation and smears against the BBC’s Persian TV service, watched by millions of people in the Islamic Republic but loathed by the government in Tehran.

In recent incidents, relatives of BBC staff in London have been detained and threatened by Iranian intelligence agents, top presenters targeted by malicious rumours and one employee subjected to an online interrogation in London after a family member in Iran was jailed. Iran is thought to be preparing a documentary film discrediting the channel in the runup to parliamentary elections next month.”

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Tunisia Faces a Balancing Act of Democracy and Religion:

“The challenges before Tunisia’s year-old revolution are immense — righting an ailing economy, drafting a new constitution and recovering from decades of dictatorship that cauterized civic life. But in the first months of a coalition government led by the Ennahda Party, seen as one of the most pragmatic of the region’s Islamist movements, the most emotional of struggles has surged to the forefront: a fight over the identity of an Arab and Muslim society that its authoritarian leaders had always cast as adamantly secular.”

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Two editors given jail terms in Central African Republic

“New York, January 31, 2012–The convictions of two journalists in the Central African Republic over their critical coverage of a top official constitute political censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

On Friday, a judge in the capital, Bangui, convicted Ferdinand Samba, editor of the private weekly Le Démocrate, on charges of defamation, insult, and incitement to hatred over a series of opinion articles dating back to September 2011 that were critical of finance minister Sylvain Ndoutingaï, according to news reports. Only the incitement charge carried a prison sentence under the country’s 2005 press law, the journalist’s defense lawyer, Nicolas Tiangaye, told CPJ.”

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