Archive for the 'RSF' Category

World Press Freedom Day celebrated on 3 May 2019

May 6, 2019

Friday 3 May was World Press Freedom Day. Read the rest of this entry »

NGOs urge Putin not to sign Russia’s “Sovereign Internet Bill”

April 28, 2019

Participants in an opposition rally in central Moscow protest against tightening state control over the internet in Russia, 10 March 2019
Participants in an opposition rally in central Moscow protest against tightening state control over the internet in Russia, 10 March 2019  Igor Russak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

On 24 April 2019 nine major human rights, media and Internet freedom NGOs, called on Russian President Vladmir Putin, not to sign the so-called “Sovereign Internet Bill” as it will lead to further limitations of already restricted Internet and media freedoms in the country.

The bill (No. 608767-7) amends the laws “On Communications” and “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” and states its aim as enabling the Russian Internet to operate independently from the World Wide Web in the event of an emergency or foreign threat. On 16 April 2019, the Russian State Duma approved the bill in the third reading amid widespread domestic criticism, protests and online campaigning around the country, and on 22 April, the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, approved it. If signed by President Vladimir Putin, the bill would enter into force on 1 November 2019.

The bill creates a system that gives the authorities the capacity to block access to parts of the Internet in Russia, potentially ranging from cutting access to particular Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through to cutting all access to the Internet throughout Russia.

The bill gives control over Internet network routing to the state regulator for Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, Roskomnadzor. It provides that the ISPs should connect with other ISPs, or “peer,” at Internet exchange points (IXes) approved by the authorities, and that these IXes should not allow unapproved ISPs to peer. The bill would also create a centralised system of devices capable of blocking Internet traffic. The bill requires ISPs to install the devices, which the government would provide free of charge, in their networks.

Under this system, Roskomnadzor would monitor threats to Russia’s Internet access and transmit instructions to ISPs through the special devices about countering these threats. Cross-border Internet traffic would be kept under close state control. The draft does not specify what the range of instructions would be, but they could potentially include partially or fully blocking traffic both between Russia and the rest of the World Wide Web, and within Russia. Nor does the draft explain how the new equipment will work, or what specifically it will do. It is clear, however, that blocking would result from direct interaction between the government and the ISP and that it will be extrajudicial and nontransparent. The public would not know what has been blocked and why.

The bill states that the new measures will be activated in the event of a ‘security threat’. The draft does not define security threats, and instead gives the government full discretion to decide what would constitute a security threat and what range of measures would be activated using the new system to address a threat.

The bill also states that Russian ISPs remain obligated to filter and block content in accordance with existing Russian law.

Further, the bill creates a national domain name system (DNS) – a system that acts as the address-book for the Internet by allowing anyone to look up the address of the server(s) hosting the URL of a website they are looking for. The bill would require Internet providers to start using the national DNS from 1 January 2021. Forcing ISPs to use the national system will give Russian authorities the ability to manipulate the results provided to the ISP outside the ISP’s knowledge and control. Authorities will be able to answer any user’s request for a website address with either a fake address or no address at all. This not only allows them to conduct fine-grained censorship but will also let the national DNS to redirect users to government-controlled servers in response to any DNS requests instead of to a website’s authentic servers.

These proposals are very broad, overly vague, and vest in the government unlimited and opaque discretion to define threats. They carry serious risks to the security and safety of commercial and private users and undermine the rights to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.

The bill contravenes standards on freedom of expression and privacy protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which Russia is a party. Both treaties allow states to limit freedoms to protect national security but impose clear criteria for such limitations to be valid. The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, commenting on the ICCPR, has reiterated that these limits should be “provided by law, which is clear and accessible to everyone,” and be predictable and transparent.

Human Rights Watch, ARTICLE 19 and other undersigned organisations are extremely concerned that the changes introduced in the bill threaten human rights and freedoms in Russia. Open, secure and reliable connectivity is essential for human rights online, including the rights to freedom of expression, information, assembly, privacy and media freedom. The bill could pose a threat to the Internet’s rights-enabling features if access to the World Wide Web is wholly or partially cut off, or if arbitrary blocking and filtering of content is carried out. It would facilitate state surveillance and curb anonymity online. It also risks severely isolating people in Russia from the rest of the world, limiting access to information and constraining attempts at collective action and public protest. The Bill’s negative impact on the freedom of expression will also affect the rights of journalists and media to work freely.

The adoption of the bill should be seen in the context of other Russian legislation that severely undermines protection of freedom of expression and privacy online and fails to meet international human rights standards. These include:

. The 2016 ‘Yarovaya Law,’ which requires all communications providers and Internet operators to store metadata about their users’ communications activities, to disclose decryption keys at the security services’ request, and to use only encryption methods approved by the Russian government. It was adopted to allegedly counter ‘extremism’ but in practice, it creates a backdoor for Russia’s security agents to access Internet users’ data, traffic, and communications.

. In 2017, Federal Law 327-FZ made amendments to the ‘Lugovoi Law’ (Federal Law FZ-398, 2013) that gave the General Prosecutor or his/her deputies a right to block access to any online resource of a foreign or international NGOs designated ‘undesirable’; and, to ‘information providing methods to access’ the resources enumerated in the ‘Lugovoi Law’, i.e. including hyper-links to old announcements on public rallies not approved by local authorities.

. The recent March 2019 bills mandate blocking and penalizing websites that publish what authorities deem to be “fake news” and “insult” to authorities, state symbols, and what the legislation vaguely describes as Russian “society.”

The President of the Russian Federation should reject the bill. The Russian Government should also review other Internet related legislation, abolish the above listed laws and bring its legal framework to full compliance with international freedom of expression standards.

ARTICLE 19

Civil Rights Defenders

Committee to Protect Journalists

Human Rights Watch

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Media Support

International Partnership for Human Rights

Norwegian Helsinki Committee

PEN International

Reporters without Borders

https://www.ifex.org/russia/2019/04/24/sovereign-internet-bill/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/04/24/joint-statement-russias-sovereign-internet-bill

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index launched on 18th of April

April 20, 2019

Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states. Because it is well known, its influence over governments is growing. Many heads of state and government fear its annual publication. [for 2018 see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/30/world-press-freedom-index-2018-is-out-colorful-but-disheartening/]

The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country and region. (It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country or region.)

Along with the Index, RSF calculates a global indicator and regional indicators that evaluate the overall performance of countries and regions (in the world and in each region) as regards media freedom. It is an absolute measure that complements the Index’s comparative rankings. The global indicator is the average of the regional indicators, each of which is obtained by averaging the scores of all the countries in the region, weighted according to their population as given by the World Bank.

The degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries and regions is determined by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire devised by RSF. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated. The criteria used in the questionnaire are pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information. Click here for more information

The press freedom map, which is distributed in print and digital versions, offers a visual overview of the situation in each country and region in the Index. The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (orange), bad (red) and very bad (black).

https://rsf.org/en/ranking

70th Anniversary of ACANU: focus on journalists under attack and creation of new human rights award

March 5, 2019

To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) organised a public lecture, panel discussion and award presentation in partnership with the Graduate Institute and the Club Diplomatique de Genève on “Press Freedom and Journalists Under Attack” on 25 February 2019.

Photo credit: Magali Girardin

The lecture, delivered by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressed issues on the physical attacks and growing number of assaults on the credibility of journalists and media organisations, which are taking a heavy toll on media freedom. It also sought to answer what is spurring the growing hostility and violence and what can be done to protect professional journalists.

Journalists are on the front lines, sounding the first alarm, questioning official accounts, looking into difficult and dangerous issues and – at their best – asking questions that demand an answer and telling truths that must be heard. […] In the face of this sustained campaign of harassment, intimidation and lack of accountability, we – the international community – cannot remain silent. […] I call on Governments and the international community to protect journalists and media workers, and to create the conditions they need to do their essential work, and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks on them.

Nina Larson, President of ACANU, then moderated a panel discussion on the situation facing journalists, which included Peggy Hicks, Director Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General, Reporters Without Borders and David Sylvan, Professor, International Relations/Political Science, the Graduate Institute.

During the discussion, Ms Hicks pointed out that “one of the [phenomena] that’s really important for us to look at in this context is the extent to which we have a whole new world of threats in terms of how some of these [attacks] happen online as opposed to offline”. Mr Deloire found that oligarchical control of the media and restrictive laws were like invisible prisons, where “there is no visible victim, there is no blood, no people in jail, but the information can be controlled”. Citing ways that state entities falsely present themselves as independent journalists, Professor Sylvan added that “there are so many alternatives – “fake” or otherwise – to regular news media that the problem now for many journalists is just to try to distinguish what they are doing from the hundreds and hundreds of things that appear similar but are not. So on the one hand, there are many more means – quite apart from physical violence […] of putting sharp restrictions on press freedom, but also there is a much greater demand for this.”

In the final segment of the event, ACANU presented two new international journalism awards, created for the 70th anniversary celebration and to recognise journalists for outstanding work in the face of growing hostility. Jennifer O’Mahony, a British freelancer, was awarded the prize for “Excellence in Reporting” for her article published in The Telegraph: “Algeria dumps thousands of migrants in the Sahara amid EU-funded crackdown”. The ACANU award for “Best Journalistic Coverage of Human Rights” was given to two Geneva journalists, Adrià Budry Carbó of Le Temps and Camille Pagella of L’illustré, for their article, “Piège en haute mer”, published in Le Temps.

For more on this new award and others for the protection of journalists, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/acanu-prize-for-reporting-on-human-rights-issues

http://graduateinstitute.ch/home/relations-publiques/news-at-the-institute/news-archives.html/_/news/corporate/2019/press-freedom-and-journalists-un

https://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/E955F9CF21E417CDC12583AC006920E4?OpenDocument

http://www.acanu.ch/prize_concept.html

Novalpina urged to come clean about targeting human rights defenders

February 19, 2019

In an open letter released today, 18 February 2019, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and five other NGOs urged Novalpina to publicly commit to accountability for NSO Group’s past spyware abuses, including the targeting of an Amnesty International employee and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/29/apple-tackles-iphone-one-tap-spyware-flaws-after-mea-laureate-discovers-hacking-attempt/]

Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said: “Novalpina’s executives have serious questions to answer about their involvement with a company which has become the go-to surveillance tool for abusive governments. This sale comes in the wake of reports that NSO paid private operatives to physically intimidate individuals trying to investigate its role in attacks on human rights defenders – further proof that NSO is an extremely dangerous entity.

We are calling on Novalpina to confirm an immediate end to the sale or further maintenance of NSO products to governments which have been accused of using surveillance to violate human rights. It must also be completely transparent about its plans to prevent further abuses.

This could be an opportunity to finally hold NSO Group to account. Novalpina must commit to fully engaging with investigations into past abuses of NSO’s spyware, and ensure that neither NSO Group nor its previous owners, Francisco Partners, are let off the hook.”

The signatories to the letter are:

  • Amnesty International
  • R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales
  • Privacy International
  • Access Now
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law and Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/02/spyware-firm-buyout-reaffirms-urgent-need-for-justice-for-targeted-activists/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2019/02/open-letter-to-novalpina-capital-nso-group-and-francisco-partners/

Breaking news: MEA 2019 goes to Sudanese refugee activist caught up in Australia’s off-shore detention policy

February 13, 2019

The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders just announced that the 2019 Laureate is Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee activist being effectively detained on Manus island in Papua New Guinea as part of Australia‘s controversial policy of deterring arrivals. Read the rest of this entry »

Dan David Prize for Defending Democracy to Reporters Without Borders and Michael Ignatieff

February 8, 2019

The internationally Dan David Prize annually awards three prizes of US $1 million each to outstanding figures and organizations whose efforts have made outstanding humanistic, scientific and technological contributions and represent remarkable achievement in selected fields within the three dimensions of time – Past, Present and Future. This year’s fields were: Macro History, Defending Democracy, and Combatting Climate Change.

On 6 February 2019 WEBWIRE reported that the  Laureates in the “Present” dimension, in the field of Defending Democracy, are: Reporters Without Borders, an international organization helping to sustain the freedom of the press across national boundaries; and Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest.

Reporters Without Borders, also known under its French name Reporters sans frontières (RSF), defends freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism. It monitors government policies regarding the press and other media, and provides material, financial and psychological support for journalists and newspapers discriminated against and persecuted by the authorities. ..RSF has launched in 2018 a key initiative about Information and democracy. by creating an international commission composed by 25 prominent figures from 18 nationalities, including Nobel laureates, famous journalists facing authoritarian strongmen and specialists of new technologies. This commission adopted the “International Declaration on Information and Democracy”, which aims at establishing basic principles for the global information and communication space. 12 heads of Governments and States committed to sign a pledge on Information and Democracy based on this declaration.

RSF also launched the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), with the aim of promoting journalistic methods, editorial independence, media transparency, and respect for journalistic ethics by giving concrete advantages (especially technological and economic ones) to news media that adhere to standards defined collaboratively in a process of self-regulation. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/30/world-press-freedom-index-2018-is-out-colorful-but-disheartening/]

Michael Ignatieff has advocated for democracy around the world as a reporter, a champion of human rights, and as one of the first to warn against the rise of ethnic nationalism. In particular, he is acknowledged for his leadership as the President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest, standing in the front lines against the campaign to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.

The liberal democratic order faces a rising tide of new authoritarianism and populism; the very values that have sustained freedom and democracy are called into question,” observed Ariel David, a member of the Dan David Prize’s board and son of the Prize founder. “Reporters Without Borders and Michael Ignatieff are being recognized for their leadership in the daily struggle to protect freedom of the press and freedom of academia. These basic liberties are pillars of democracy and it is no coincidence that the media and universities are often the primary targets of the populist and authoritarian regimes that have risen to power.” The Dan David Prize is named after the late Mr. Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist whose vision is the driving force behind the international Dan David Prize.  His aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future.

https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=235457

World Press Freedom Index 2018 is out – colorful but disheartening

January 30, 2019

The World Press Freedom Index 2018 is out.

Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index is an advocacy tool. The Index is a point of reference that is quoted by media throughout the world and is used by diplomats and international entities such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

The Index ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists. (It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country and region. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country or region.)

Click here for more information

THE PRESS FREEDOM MAP, which is distributed in print and digital versions, offers a visual overview of the situation in each country and region in the Index. The colour categories are assigned as follows: good (white), fairly good (yellow), problematic (orange), bad (red) and very bad (black).

 

https://rsf.org/en/ranking

Reporters Without Borders: 2018 World Press Freedom Index makes sobering reading

April 26, 2018

Reporters Without Borders  (better known under its French acronym RSF) published its WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2018. The rankings you can find by clicking here READ MORE. The regional chapters below give a quick overview of the main trends, including the disturbing downward turn in the USA, the further sinking in ex-sovjet states and China’s nefarious example in Asia.

RSF INDEX 2018: JOURNALISM SORELY TESTED IN NORTH AFRICA

North Africa’s performance in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index reflects the different pressures to which journalists are exposed. Restrictive laws, reporting problems (especially at protests), and subjects that are off limits all prevent journalists from being free to provide independently reported and pluralist news and information.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: US FALLS AS CANADA RISES

Despite having strong constitutional protections to the contrary, the latest World Press Freedom Index findings on the US and Canada reveal two countries whose journalists and media workers face constant challenges to the very freedom to exercise their profession.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: MIXED PERFORMANCE IN LATIN AMERICA

The 2018 Index shows a slight overall improvement in respect for press freedom in Latin America but this should not divert attention from the continuing problems of violence, impunity, and authoritarian policies towards journalists in many Latin American countries.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: ASIA-PACIFIC DEMOCRACIES THREATENED BY CHINA’S MEDIA CONTROL MODEL

The Chinese model of state-controlled news and information is being copied in other Asian countries, especially Vietnam and Cambodia. North Asia’s democracies are struggling to establish themselves as alternative models. Violence against journalists is increasingly worrying in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: THE DANGERS OF REPORTING IN AFRICA

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA HAS MAINTAINED ITS THIRD PLACE IN THE RANKING BY GEOGRAPHICAL REGION, WITH A SLIGHTLY BETTER OVERALL INDICATOR THAN IN 2017. BUT THERE IS A WIDE RANGE OF SITUATIONS WITHIN THE REGION, AND JOURNALISTS ARE OFTEN THE VICTIMS OF INTIMIDATION, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE, AND ARREST.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: HISTORIC DECLINE IN PRESS FREEDOM IN EX-SOVIET STATES, TURKEY

THE FORMER SOVIET COUNTRIES AND TURKEY CONTINUE TO BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE WORLDWIDE DECLINE IN PRESS FREEDOM. ALMOST TWO-THIRDS OF THE REGION’S COUNTRIES ARE RANKED SOMEWHERE NEAR OR BELOW THE 150TH POSITION IN THE INDEX. THE REGION’S OVERALL INDICATOR HAS SUNK ALMOST AS LOW AS THAT OF MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA, THE REGION THAT IS LAST IN THE RANKING BY REGION.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: JOURNALISTS ARE MURDERED IN EUROPE AS WELL

The European model’s erosion, a trend visible in RSF’s most recent Indexes, has continued in the 2018 Index. The region has been shaken by two murders, as well as by threats to investigative reporters and unprecedented verbal attacks on the media. Even the countries at the top of the Index are affected by this alarming climate.

READ MORE

RSF INDEX 2018: MIDDLE EAST RIVEN BY CONFLICTS, POLITICAL CLASHES

The Middle East’s countries are yet again at the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. Armed conflicts, terrorism charges against independent journalists and media, and growing online surveillance and censorship make reporting extremely dangerous for the region’s journalists.

READ MORE

 

https://rsf.org/en/rsf-index-2018-hatred-journalism-threatens-democracies

ProtectDefenders.eu launches new alert website but no single stop yet!!

April 3, 2017

On 30 March ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism implemented by international civil society, launched its Index of attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders, featuring a monitoring of alerts concerning violations perpetrated against individuals promoting Human Rights around the globe. The Index of attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders is available on: ProtectDefenders.eu website.

It could be a most useful tool as quite a few key information providers coöperate (but not AI, HRW?). However, to be really useful as a single stop for this kind of information it is paramount that the site is as complete as possible (otherwise one would still have to go back to the websites of the individual organizations cooperating in the project). This is apparently not yet the case (or maybe definitions still differ from NGO to NGO). Front Line e.g. in its 2017 report (covering 2016) states that  281 HRDs were killed around the world [https://hrdmemorial.org/front-line-defenders-017-annual-report-highlights-killing-of-281-hrds-in-2016/], while a search on the new site shows only 39 killed in 2016 [https://protectdefenders.eu/en/stats.php?yearFilter=2016&regionFilter=&countryFilter=#mf]. That is 242 killings missing (without checking the annual reports of other cooperating partners) ! This issue is important as the announcement claims that the site wants to become “a source of reliable and updated information that should allow the identification of worrying trends and  encourage the coordination of adequate responses by decision-makers and authorities to counter the violations faced by defenders”. Read the rest of this entry »