Archive Page 3

Mexico: Code of Ethics v Freedom of Expression

Ms Carmen Aristegui, a well-known Mexican journalist was fired from a major Mexican radio station MVS Noticias, in February 2011, for “violating the station’s code of ethics” by “broadcasting rumour as news” and subsequently refusing to make an on-air apology.

Ms Aristegui’s dismissal came after she aired a controversial radio broadcast suggesting that the Presidency of the Republic should address the accusations of President Calderon’s alleged drinking problem.  According to Ms Aristegui, her statement  “was an editorial comment based on a news event” which followed an episode that occurred in the Congress, where a left-wing deputy of the Labour Party (Partido del Trabajo (PT) displayed a banner with an image of President Calderon together with the following text: “Would you let a drunk person drive your car? You wouldn’t, right? So, why do you let him drive your country?“ However, no evidence was presented to support such allegations. Continue reading ‘Mexico: Code of Ethics v Freedom of Expression’


“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’

Sticking up for God? The Case for freedom of expression encompassing religious criticism

Religious defamation as a legal concept was first proposed in 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council on the submission of Pakistan. It broadened the individualistic nature of human rights protection to cover very large groups. The adopted text of the 2009 Resolution stated that:

“Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence,”

This move was widely criticised at the time as serving the interests of Islamic and African Nations, which comprised the majority of the 23 votes in favour (10 against, 13 abstentions). The resolution itself was very unclear on what religious defamation actually means, ranging from phrases such as: “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism” Which seem to deal with generally offensive statements, to the more familiar territory of incitement to racial and religious violence. Whilst the latter is well known and dealt with under a variety of municipal legal systems through criminal law, the former suggests an extension of forbidden speech into the territory of ‘defamation proper’, that is to say, of private law. Continue reading ‘Sticking up for God? The Case for freedom of expression encompassing religious criticism’

Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up, 13-17 June 2011

Kurdistan: Journalist Sentenced to over a Month in Prison for Publishing Statement by PKK Leader

Journalist Ercan Atay was sentenced to one month and seven days of imprisonment after he published a statement by Murat Karayilan, head of the Steering Committee of the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK). Atay was tried on charges of “praising crime and a criminal.”


United Kingdom: Facebook contempt case: juror sentenced to eight months

A juror serving at London’s High Court admitted to using Facebook to communicate with a defendant already acquitted in an ongoing narcotics case. She also admitted to conducting an internet search into another defendant and revealing details of the case while the jury was still deliberating.


United States: New Tennessee raises freedom of speech issues 

A new Tennessee state law originally designed to combat cyber-bullying also impacts free speech and is scheduled take effect July 1st. The law extends harassment laws to include communication through email or internet, and it requires internet service providers to release information about who posts certain images to law enforcement. It would also criminalize causing “emotional distress” through displaying certain images.

Link: Continue reading ‘Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up, 13-17 June 2011’

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’

Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up, 4-10 May 2011

Global: Internet Access is a Human Right, United Nations Report Declares

The Special Rapporteur for the United Nations recently released a report stating that there exists a positive obligation on states to promote or facilitate enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and the means necessary to exercise that right, such as access to the internet.


Palestine: ‘PA bans journalists from reporting human rights abuses’

Palestinian Authority recently issued instructions to editors forbidding them from allowing their journalists to report on the findings of the Independent Commission for Human Rights concerning the abuse of human rights by the PA and Hamas. According to some sources, journalists in the West Bank have been subject to physical and moral assault, including having their equipment confiscated or destroyed.


Kuwait: Kuwait arrests man over Twitter post

Kuwait has arrested Nasser Abul, a Shi’ite Muslim man, for publishing criticism of the ruling families in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia on social media site Twitter. State security charges, including charges of damaging the country’s interests and severing political relationship with brotherly countries have been filed against him. Abul denied the charges and told prosecutors that hackers who hacked his account were the culprits, not him.


Continue reading ‘Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up, 4-10 May 2011’

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’?’

A reawakening of free speech in Egypt?

In the wake of the January 2011 Egyptian revolution, harmonies of free speech and reform echoed through the crowds of Tahrir Square and were heard around the world.

One Egyptian lyricist, Hany Adel, voiced the revolutionary weapons of dreams and words in his song, Sout Al Horeya ‘the sound of freedom,’ which quickly gained popularity across the internet and social media networks. Continue reading ‘A reawakening of free speech in Egypt?’

Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 21 May to 27 May 2011

 Morocco: Journalist facing trial tomorrow should be released

According to Amnesty International (AI), the Moroccan journalist “must be released immediately and unconditionally if he is being held solely for his writing,” as it is wrong to detain a journalist only for criticising the counter-terrorism law and corruption. Furthermore AI held that “the Moroccan authorities continue to curb freedom of expression on sensitive issues that touch upon national security, territorial integrity and the monarchy. Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and others still face intimidation and even prosecution when they transcend certain ‘red lines’.”


European Neo-Nazi websites setting up in the U.S. to take advantage of free speech laws

The U.S. norm is that people are free to say anything as long as it doesn’t infringe upon another person’s rights. In Austria, freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution but is limited by a ban on propagating Nazi ideology. Nowadays, groups on the extreme-right are turning to U.S.-based web servers to spread extremist rhetoric.


UK: Human Rights Act ‘may need amending’ in privacy row

 “The Human Rights Act may need to be amended to resolve the conflict between privacy and freedom of speech in UK law, a senior MP has said.”

Link: Continue reading ‘Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 21 May to 27 May 2011’

Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 14 May to 20 May 2011

USA: Americans sue Baidu over censorship

Claiming violations of the US Constitution, the eight pro-democracy activists, New York residents, are sueing Baidu Inc and the Chinese government, accusing China’s biggest search engine of conspiring with its rulers to censor pro-democracy speech.


China / Germany: Web freedom debated in Berlin

The second China-Germany Media Forum was held in May, with 20 media executives from both countries attending and exchanging views on the future of Sino-European relations.  Among a wide range of topics, political systems and freedom of expression were of prime concern during the forum. Both sides felt content that the forum offered a good opportunity to achieve mutual understanding.


Morocco: Journalist facing trial tomorrow should be released

Rachid Nini, a Moroccan journalist and editor of the el-Massa daily newspaper, was detained on 28 April following the publication of several articles criticising the counter-terrorism practices of the Moroccan security services, including prison sentences handed down after unfair trials against Islamists.

Link: Continue reading ‘Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up 14 May to 20 May 2011’

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