Archive for the 'Journalists' Category

“A Path that was Not Paved in Gold, but in Danger”: Freedom of Expression in Pakistan

Pakistani correspondent for the Italian news agency Asnkronos International (AKI) and Asia Times Online, Saleem  Shahzad, was awarded an International Journalism Award by Italy’s Ischia Prize Foundation on 12 June 2011 for his “illuminating analyses of international terrorism” and his commitment to the profession’s “supreme mission for peace and culture.”

This prestigious award, however, was granted to Shahzad posthumously.

 Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered in Pakistan in May 2011 just days after publishing an investigative report on a military attack in Karachi.

 Although Article 19 of the 1973 Pakistani Constitution ensures that “every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press,” there is substantial speculation that Shahzad was detained and killed by Pakistani intelligence authorities. If true, this emphasizes the government’s continued backhand control of freedom of expression in Pakistan.  Continue reading ‘“A Path that was Not Paved in Gold, but in Danger”: Freedom of Expression in Pakistan’


Rwanda’s ’genocide ideology’ laws: threatening freedom of expression and the rule of law

In many post-conflict societies, a delicate balance must be struck between safeguarding rights and freedoms and taking measures to prevent future conflict.  Rwanda is often cited as a case where this debate is particularly relevant, given the severe ethnic conflicts resulting in the 1994 Genocide, and the subsequent passing of post-conflict “genocide ideology” and “sectarianism” laws. In theory, these laws were created to stifle the kind of hate speech broadcasted during the 1994 genocide, but in practice they have been used to silence critics of the current government, as reported in Amnesty International’s 2011 Report, Unsafe to speak out: Restrictions on freedom of expression in Rwanda. Continue reading ‘Rwanda’s ’genocide ideology’ laws: threatening freedom of expression and the rule of law’

The Value of Democracy: A Challenge to the ‘Hyper-Injunction’?

One could understandably become very confused by all the new terminology English Media Law has had thrown at it these days. First we had ‘super-injunctions’, described by Lord Neuberger’s report as:

 “…an interim injunction which restrains a person from: (i) publishing information which concerns the applicant and is said to be confidential or private; and, ii) publicising or informing others of the existence of the order and the proceedings (the ‘super’ element of the order)”

 Next we have been introduced to ‘hyper-injunctions’, which in addition to the above, explicitly prevent parties from complaining about matters to their local MP. This is designed to forestall claiming of Parliamentary Privilege in disclosing the information to the House of Commons. Apparently however, this does not prevent MPs from discussing the details of cases off their own bat. The distinction between hyper-injunctions and super-injunctions is not conceptually deep; essentially they are the same juridical tool, the difference is one of specificity. Continue reading ‘The Value of Democracy: A Challenge to the ‘Hyper-Injunction’?’

Rights to what? Understanding intellectual property

Understanding an area of law is all about understanding the juridical concepts from which it is comprised. When considering Media Law one must examine human rights, constitutional rights and private law rights such as those not to be defamed or libelled. However, there is one other important type of right that merits examination: rights of Intellectual Property. There are of course many types of Intellectual Property Right, such as copyright, patents, trademarks, trade secrets and creative commons but it seems worthwhile to consider the general notion of ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ in virtue of what these instantiations have in common. Continue reading ‘Rights to what? Understanding intellectual property’

China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers

In a press release dated 14 April 2011, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) called for ‘an end to intimidation and abuse of human rights lawyers in China’. The IBAHRI’s press release names 9 human rights lawyers who had ‘disappeared’ since February 2011. Some have since been released, others are still missing. Indeed, according to Amnesty International, it appears that the Chinese government has embarked over the past few months on a fresh wave of repression in its ongoing  ‘campaign of harassment and intimidation’ of human rights lawyers.  Continue reading ‘China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers’


The White House Correspondents Association annual dinner is a chance for the President or Vice President and their administration to schmooze the press corps, during an evening of ironic and sometimes sardonic comedy which sets aside the usually serious timbre of politics in place of a more jovial and fun-filled resonance.  However, at the finale of this year’s speech, just as the uproarious subsided, US President Barack Obama ended on a slightly more serious note.  “You know, in the last months, we’ve seen journalists threatened, arrested, beaten, attacked, and in some cases even killed simply for doing their best to bring us the story, to give people a voice, and to hold leaders accountable.  And through it all, we’ve seen daring men and women risk their lives for the simple idea that no one should be silenced, and everyone deserves to know the truth.” Continue reading ‘WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY’

Libyan Attacks on Freedom of Expression – the Root of the Unrest

“All my people love me. They would die to protect me,” said Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi earlier this month.  This, however, contrasts starkly with the reality of the situation in Libya, leading to the US ambassador to the UN to declare the leader “delusional.”  Nearly two weeks earlier, anti-government protests broke out in Libya following the resignation of former Egyptian leader, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak.  The government responded with military action, leaving more than 100 dead in the first four days of protests.  The UN security council responded by calling for an end to the violence.  This, however, was nearly three weeks ago, yet the crisis in Libya remains. Continue reading ‘Libyan Attacks on Freedom of Expression – the Root of the Unrest’

“Asian Values”: a credible alternative to a universal conception of human rights,or a justification for restricting freedom of expression?

A recent High Court ruling has reignited fierce debate on Freedom of Expression in Singapore. Dr Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, has just lost his appeal to overturn a conviction for speaking in a public place without a licence. Sentenced to a fine of $20,000 or imprisonment of 20 weeks in default, the SDP leader is facing the very real risk that, incarcerated, he will be unable to lead his party in the forthcoming general elections.

Dr Chee’s case is symptomatic of a wider problem in Singapore: the systematic repression of the right to freedom of expression. On the issue of freedom of the press, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew remarked:

“We cannot allow [the press] to assume a role in Singapore that the American media play to America, that of invigilator, adversary and inquisitor of the administration.”

Continue reading ‘“Asian Values”: a credible alternative to a universal conception of human rights,or a justification for restricting freedom of expression?’

Wikileaks: Freedom of Expression on the Internet

“The reaction to the Wikileaks story exposes the heady mixture of self-delusion that passes for debate on freedom of information, transparency of government, re-use of public information, secure data sharing, data protection, information assurance, information security, information risk management and even net neutrality.”

Earlier this year, Wikileaks posted a video of US military personnel launching an airstrike that killed unarmed Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists. In addition to the public outrage, this provoked an interesting debate about where the line between the right to freedom of information and the interests of national security should be drawn. The debate rages on this month as Wikileaks releases more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables simultaneously around the world revealing confidential information about many countries around the world. Continue reading ‘Wikileaks: Freedom of Expression on the Internet’

A threat to the French media landscape?

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of spying on journalists who ‘annoyed him’. This allegation has enhanced the fact that the media climate in France is getting worse from the time of the election of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Journalists have never found it easy to be a journalist in France. Now, some say it is intolerable . Continue reading ‘A threat to the French media landscape?’

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