Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

How on-line platforms could be used for good and bad: Colin Crowell in Oslo

June 2, 2015

At the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum on 26 May there was a clarifying talk by Twitter vice-president Colin Crowell about how online platforms, like Twitter, play a key role in connecting people and spreading ideas. Crowell describes how Twitter, which allows for anonymity through the use of pseudonyms, encourages freedom of expression. He cautions that governments also try to limit this expression and control the flow of information by requesting that certain tweets be removed – or even by blocking Twitter completely. Crowell highlights how Twitter has been used to start various online social movements, citing several successful case studies from around the world.

Persecution of Lawyers and Journalists in Turkey: side event in Geneva on 27 January

January 23, 2015

L4L logo Lawyers for Lawyers, the Law Society of England and Wales,  Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Privacy International, Fair Trial Watch and Media Legal Defence Initiative organise  a panel discussion on the “Persecution of Lawyers and Journalists in Turkey” on Tuesday, 27 January, in Geneva, Immediately after the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Turkey,

 At this event fundamental rights of lawyers and journalists that are regularly being violated will be discussed, including freedom of expression, privacy, confidentiality between lawyers and their clients and the protection of sources by journalists. This event comes at a time when the rule of law in Turkey is under serious threat.

[Turkey has adopted new laws and judicial reform packages, allowing for even more internet censorship, data collection, surveillance and the censoring of critical views on the pretence of protecting national security, which are directly undermining the freedom of expression, but also other fundamental rights such as privacy. In particular, journalists and lawyers are negatively impacted. They are subject to surveillance and legal harassment. The last couple of years large groups of lawyers and journalists have been arrested on the suspicion of terrorism related offences. Lawyers face stigmatisation by being continuously identified with their clients’ causes. Journalists are accused of not being independent. For both groups it is hard, if not impossible, to work freely, independently and securely.]

Speakers:

Ayse Bingol – Lawyer from Turkey

Tayfun Ertan – Journalist from Turkey

Marietje Schaake (by Skype) – Member European Parliament

Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion – Privacy International

Tony Fisher – The Law Society of England and Whales

Moderator:  Irma van den Berg – Turkey expert of Lawyers for Lawyers

The event takes place from 12h45 – 14h30 in Room XXIII, Palais des Nations. Those wishing to attend, send email – before 23 January – to : bp[at]lawyersforlawyers.nl

Turkey 27 January in Geneva; side-event Persecution of Lawyers and Journalists in Turkey Lawyers for Lawyers.

Canadian web defenders high up among Tulip nominations

October 12, 2014

ASL19, founded by Iranian-Canadian Ali Karimzadeh Bangi, develops ways for Iranians to counter the country's “Great Firewall” of censorship.

(ASL19, founded by Iranian-Canadian Ali Karimzadeh Bangi, develops ways for Iranians to counter the country’s “Great Firewall” of censorship – COLIN MCCONNELL / TORONTO STAR)

Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter of the Toronto Star, reports on 9 October 2014 that a Canadian-based human rights research and technology lab is shortlisted for the Netherlands Human Rights Tulip award which is partly crowdsourced, with voting on the Internet (now closed). An international jury headed by former UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue will make the final selection from six top picks, three of them chosen by the public. [see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/tulip-award and https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/tulip-award-introduces-novelty-on-line-voting-for-human-rights-prize/]

The prize aims to reward groups that use innovation to promote human rights. Of the 30 shortlisted candidates, ASL19, founded by Iranian-Canadian Ali Karimzadeh Bangi, is running fourth.

The remainder of the article sets out how the group helps Iranians to evade censorship.

Canadian web defenders up for top human rights award | Toronto Star.

Internet guru Bruce Schneier will lecture on: Is it Possible to be Safe Online?

September 30, 2014

On 6 October 2014 Front Line Defenders will be hosting US computer privacy expert and “digital security guru” Bruce Schneier as the key-note speaker for their second Annual Lecture [for those in Ireland: at 6.30 pm in the Trinity Biomedical Science Institute – tickets are available at: https://bruceschneierdublin2014.eventbrite.ie].

This talk, entitled “Is it Possible to be Safe Online? Human Rights Defenders and the Internet”, will explore the issues faced by human rights defenders and everyday people on the ground as the use of computers and the Internet in their work is becoming increasingly commonplace and the threats posed by governments manipulating, monitoring and subverting electronic information, increased surveillance and censorship and the lack of security for digitally communicated and stored information is on the rise. Called a “security guru” by The Economist, Schneier has authored 12 books – including Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Thrive – as well as hundred of article, essays and academic papers. His influential newsletter  Crypto-Gram and his blog Schneier on Security are read by over 250,000 worldwide.

via Is it Possible to be Safe Online? Human Rights Defenders & the Internet – lecture by Bruce Schneier – 06/10.

UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on Sudan

September 28, 2014

(Justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dosa at the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, 24 September 2014 (Jean-Marc Ferré/UNHRC)
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a draft resolution in Geneva on Friday 26 September calling on the Sudanese government to conduct an independent enquiry into the killing of protestors in September 2013, and March 2014. It also agreed to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan for another year. The Council expressed grave concern at the use of excessive force, including the lethal shooting of demonstrators, and called on the Sudanese government to launch an investigation and refer its findings to the judiciary to ensure justice and accountability for the incidents that occurred.
[A year ago, massive street protests erupted in the country against the lifting of fuel subsidies. According to activists, more than 200 people died in Sudan’s capital. On 11 March this year, a University of Khartoum student was fatally hit by a bullet, and other students were injured, when security forces attacked a peaceful demonstration by the students against widespread attacks by paramilitary troops on rural areas in Darfur.]
The UN human rights agency also expressed concern “at reports of restrictions on the media, pre- and post-publication censorship, seizure of newspapers, the banning of some journalists, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association and of peaceful assembly”. It urged the Sudanese government to further its efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular to ensure freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, and to respect the human rights of all individuals, including human rights defenders and members of civil society organisations.
The draft resolution urged the Sudanese government to continue its full cooperation with the independent expert and allow him “effective” access to all parts of the country and concerned bodies, [It was proposed on Thursday that the Irish Thomas Edward will succeed the current independent expert, Mashood. A. Baderin.The Sudanese Minister of Justice, Mohamed Bushara Dosa, however, said on Saturday that Khartoum has objected to the appointment of Edward, on the grounds that Sudan had not been consulted. He said that Sudan has requested the extension of Baderin’s term. Dosa called on the UNHRC to end the mandate of the independent expert, and rejected the accusations of committing serious violations of freedoms and human rights, particularly in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. He further rejected accusations by the independent expert that Khartoum was dragging its feet in investigating the September 2013 protests, and pointed out that the government has submitted to him a detailed report on measures undertaken with respect to those events.]
(Sources: UNHCR, EU-UN.Europa, Sudan Tribune)

Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense to Human Rights Defenders: stop breathing…

July 8, 2014

A National Secretariat functioning under Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence and Urban Development has issued a curious letter on 1 July 2014. The following is the letter in full:

“MINISTRY OF DEFENCE AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT National Secretariat for Non Governmental Organizations

To All Non Governmental Organizations

Non Governmental Organizations acting beyond their mandate

It has been revealed that certain Non Governmental Organizations conduct press conferences, workshops, training for journalists, and dissemination of press releases which is beyond their mandate.

We reiterate that all Non Governmental Organizations should prevent from such unauthorized activities with immediate effect.

D.M.S. Dissanayake
Director/Registrar”

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), which made the letter public, adds the understandably sarcastic comment that the next letter may well read:  “It has been revealed that certain Non-Governmental Organisations have members who are breathing and still moving. We hereby call upon all of them to cease from such unauthorized activities with immediate effect.”

For the full context see this Statement online on AHRC’s revamped website: www.humanrights.asia.

 

Cartooning for Peace award in Euronews video clip

May 23, 2014

This clip was produced by True Heroes Films (THF) for Euronews which covered the event of the 2nd international Cartooning for Peace award. [for more on the award see http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/cartooning-peace-press-award].

The foundation “Cartooning for Peace” went to Syria-Palestinian Hani Abbas and Egyptian Doaa Eladl for their work. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan handed them the international award for press cartoonists in Geneva, as part of World Press Day. French cartoonist Plantu gave Euronews his views on the significance of using cartoons as a form of expression: “We’re trying to show the level of resistance that exists today, from the perspective of the very people that allow us to understand the word “resistance”, the cartoonists that ultimately become the foot soldiers of democracy. In other words, they’re railing against different powers, not just the power of their editors but also against political and religious power.” 

From Lake Geneva, euronews correspondent Wolfgang Spindler said: “Political cartoons can be subversive, provocative and amusing – they make us smile, they give us pause for thought. But we very often forget that the cartoonists behind them sometimes have to risk their lives daily for the sake of their work.”  via: http://www.euronews.com/2014/05/05/drawing-for-peace

The cartoon exhibition on the banks of Lake Geneva runs until the beginning of July and then moves to Sarajevo.

previous post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/cartooning-for-peace-international-award-and-exhibit-in-geneva-as-from-today/

 

Committee to Protect Journalists publishes New Risk List: Where Press Freedom is going down

February 8, 2014

The Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] has published its Risk List, indicating where press freedom is in decline. In determining the list, CPJ staff examined six press freedom indicators: fatalities, imprisonments, restrictive legislation, state censorship, impunity in anti-press attacks, and journalists driven into exile. Countries named to the Risk List are not necessarily the world’s worst places for journalists; such a list would include nations like North Korea and Eritrea, where free expression has long been suffocated. Instead, the Risk List identifies the 10 places where CPJ documented the most significant downward trends during 2012. Those trends included:

  • High murder rates and entrenched impunity in Pakistan, Somalia, and Brazil.
  • The use of restrictive laws to silence dissent in Ecuador, Turkey, and Russia.
  • The imprisonment of large numbers of journalists, typically on anti-state charges, to thwart critical reporting in Ethiopia, Turkey, Vietnam, Iran, and Syria.
  • An exceedingly high fatality rate in Syria, where journalists faced multiple risks from all sides in the conflict.

CPJ, which is publishing its Risk List for the first time, identified Syria and Somalia, which are racked by conflict, along with Iran, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, nations that are ruled with an authoritarian grip. But half of the nations on the Risk List– Brazil, Turkey, Pakistan, and Russia, along with Ecuador–practice some form of democracy and exert significant influence on a regional or international stage.

Threats to press freedom were not confined within the borders of these nations. Four Risk List countries sought to undermine international or regional press freedom initiatives during the year. Russia pushed for centralized control of the Internet ahead of the World Conference on International Telecommunications. Ecuador led an effort, supported by Brazil, to weaken the ability of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to intervene in cases of systemic or grave press freedom abuses. Brazil and Pakistan were among a handful of countries that tried to derail a U.N. plan to improve journalist security and combat impunity worldwide.

Setbacks in Brazil are particularly alarming given its status as a regional leader and home to a diverse array of news media. But a spike in journalist murders, a failure to address impunity, and a pattern of judicial censorship have put Brazil’s press freedom at risk, CPJ found. Turkey, too, has projected an image as a regional model for freedom and democracy. But while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed a commitment to press freedom, his administration has wielded an anti-terror law as a club to jail and intimidate journalists.

Less surprising, but no less worrisome are setbacks in Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Iran. Though Ethiopia and Vietnam have been applauded for economic strides, both countries have lagged in terms of openness and freedom of the press. Conditions worsened in 2012, as Ethiopian and Vietnamese authorities ramped up efforts to stifle dissent by imprisoning journalists on anti-state charges. Iran, ignoring international criticism of its press record, has intensified an assault on critical voices that began after the disputed 2009 presidential election.

In Syria and Somalia, where journalists faced risks from multiple sides, the death tolls have mounted. Crossfire was the leading cause of death for journalists in Syria, although at least three journalists were assassinated, CPJ research shows. Both rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been implicated in acts of violence against the press. All 12 journalists killed in Somalia in 2012, the country’s bloodiest year for the press, were targeted in direct reprisal for their reporting. Both insurgents and government officials were suspected of involvement. In both countries, the ranks of young journalists, many with little training and experience, have been particularly hard hit.

In the full report below you can find capsule reports on the 10 nations named to the CPJ Risk List:

 http://www.cpj.org/2013/02/attacks-on-the-press-cpj-risk-list.php

Human Rights Coalition sues prison officials in US for censoring human rights advocacy

January 26, 2014

Robert Saleem Holbrook, web

The Human Rights Coalition (HRC), prisoner Robert Saleem Holbrook (pictured above) and College of Charleston Professor Kristi Brian brought a lawsuit on 8 January against employees of the State Correctional Institution (SCI) and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) in the USA for confiscation of mail sent to Holbrook, a co-founder of HRC. “It is long overdue that prison officials are held to account for their attempts to silence those who speak out against this abusive system. The rights, health and lives of our loved ones are at stake.” HRC-Philadelphia activist Patricia Vickers stated. This lawsuit challenges the ability of PA DOC officials to target political dissent and human rights defenders with censorship. Read the rest of this entry »

The EU and freedom of expression as seen by Index on Censorship

January 16, 2014

Index on Censorship is basing a series of articles on its larger report by Mike Harris, Time to Step Up: The EU and freedom of expression.

On 14 January 2014 came the one the ‘southern neighbourhood’ arguing that the credibility of the EU’s swing in focus from economic development towards human rights (after the outbreak of the Arab spring) is low.

The EU’s  communication “A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the southern Mediterranean“ (published on 8 May 2011) addresses the EU’s commitment to financially support transition to democracy and civil society and heralds the creation of the Civil Society Facility for the neighbourhood (covering both the southern and eastern neighbourhoods), while the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) deployed a number of operations in the region to protect and promote freedom of expression, often without the consent of the host country. Still, the article argues, european countries are often still seen as former allies of repressive regimes.

http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/01/eu-freedom-expression-southern-neighbourhood/

The one of 15 January, entitled ‘The EU and free expression: Human rights dialogues’, looks at the situation that the EU runs 30 human rights dialogues across the globe, with the key dialogues taking place in China, Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Belarus. It also has a dialogues with the African Union. The article is more detailed on China 

The article concludes: “With criticism of the effectiveness and openness of the dialogues, the EU should look again at how the dialogues fit into the overall strategy of the Union and its member states in the promotion of human rights with third countries and assess whether the dialogues can be improved.

The EU and free expression: Human rights dialogues – Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship.