Posts Tagged ‘Unesco’

10 December: World Press Freedom Conference 2020

December 6, 2020

Journalism without fear or favour

Journalism without fear or favour
.unesco.org/news/visualizing-journalism-without-fear-favour (Image by UNESCO)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made even clearer the importance of being able to access reliable, unbiased information in a time of crisis – and of independent media as the source of such information. But freedom of the media is under attack in many countries all around the world and journalists are subject to harassment, repression and violence. The World Press Freedom Conference 2020 (WPFC) aims to stand up for a free, safe and independent media and protect journalism from new and existing forms of unwanted control, pressure and influence.

The WPFC is co-hosted by UNESCO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands and will take place on 9 – 10 December 2020 in a new, innovative format, merging digital and in-person elements. It will bring together journalists, media companies, human rights defenders, members of the judiciary, policymakers, academics, youth and NGOs from around the world and is open to anyone, anywhere, who is interested in press freedom. [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/world-press-freedom-index/]


RNW Media will be hosting a session called PRESSure is ON: creating an inclusive and enabling online space for digital media communities. This session puts the spotlight on the marginalised voices of young media makers. Bloggers, vloggers and media makers from teams in Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and India will discuss their on-the-ground experiences in their local contexts, the challenges they face when it comes to digital rights (both access and content takedowns) and the possible solutions.

The session on 10 December 12:15 – 13:15, will be led by Melody Patry, Advocacy Director at the digital rights NGO Access Now. The audience will be able to use a chat function to share their thoughts on the topics discussed and will be asked to respond to questions that will pop up on their screens throughout the session. These questions are designed to gather the audience’s opinions on such issues as what poses the biggest threat to freedom of speech and whether or not governments should have the right to censor media content they consider harmful to society.

The RNTC media training centre has joined forces with UNESCO and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold an online competition in the run-up to the conference offering the chance to win a two-day online Masterclass in Investigative Journalism. People are invited to submit a short story, picture or 10-second video message explaining what press freedom means to them or how they’ve contributed to it, via direct messaging @UnescoNow. A total of 20 winners will be selected to take part in RNTC’s masterclass which will take place in January.

The on-line training will introduce key concepts and tools for investigative journalism and strengthen participants’ capacity to identify and research issues of governance, accountability, corruption, and misuse of power. In order to publicise the competition, RNW Media has been sharing videos on its social media channels of journalists from around the world explaining what press freedom means to them

Journalism Under Fire – A Global Surge in Violations Against Journalists

October 16, 2020

On 14 Aya Wietzorrek posted a good overview piece on freedom of the press in the Organization for World Peace

…..Functioning as a “watch-dog” of these freedoms, journalism can be considered a public good, as it serves to inform citizens on political, economic, and social issues and ensures governance is transparent and accountable.

Acknowledging the many challenges journalism is currently facing…the focus of this article is on the everyday violations against journalists. This September, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Agency (UNESCO) published a report with findings revealing a “wider upward trend” in the use of unlawful violence by police and security forces against journalists over the last five years. Attacks were reported across 65 countries, and many of the tactics used, violate international laws and norms. Globally, journalists are facing censorship, surveillance, detention and physical attacks by law enforcement. The reported abuses against journalists include harassment, intimidation, beatings, being shot with non-lethal as well as lethal ammunition, sometimes even resulting in death.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, commented that around 1,000 journalists have been killed in the last decade – and that 9 in 10 cases “are unresolved”. The murders of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 in Malta, Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in Turkey and Francisco Romero Díaz in 2019 in Mexico are only a few examples. Horrified by the fates of their colleagues, these events have deterring effects for other journalists. Besides the attacks on journalists being a deeply concerning issue in their own right, such attacks thus also constitute a direct threat to civil society and democracy. In democratic states, with separate legislative, executive and judiciary branches, a free press is often considered to be the 4th pillar of democracy. According to Freedom House, however, elected leaders in many democracies have made direct attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen ones that provide favourable coverage. The trend is linked to a global decline in democracy itself: The erosion of press freedom is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles….

To intercept this upward trend of unlawful violence reported by UNESCO, and to ensure that journalists can serve society and do their job, we can improve and implement the following. Firstly, in terms of prevention, developing standard operating protocols and increasing training for law enforcement on the freedom of expression and appropriate behaviour in dealing with journalists – respecting their special status as ‘watch-dogs’ – is vital. Such training would include dialogues between law enforcement and journalists, to establish working relationship between the two groups, respecting the roles of each in society. It is imperative that national legal frameworks for police use of force align with the international standards of necessity and proportionality. Secondly, in terms of protection, countries should renew their international human rights pledges, review relevant domestic laws and practice and revise them as necessary, to ensure conformity with states’ obligations under the UDHR and ICCPR. These legislative frameworks should be subject to periodic review by independent expert bodies, such as Human Rights Watch for instance. Thirdly, as the Committee to Protect Journalists has pointed out in its “Global Campaign Against Impunity”, murder is the ultimate form of censorship and the statistic that justice is not served in 9 out of 10 murders, highlights that urgent action is needed on this front. In terms of prosecution, appointing national ombudsmen to hold police accountable for the unlawful use of force against journalists is key. The implementation of such ombudsmen and the strengthening of criminal law provisions should also operate to deter offences against journalists. Internationally, the freedom of press is only implicitly protected by Article 19.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and deserves to be explicitly mentioned and protected. The appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Safety of Journalists, as proposed by Reporters Without Border and 70 media groups and freedom of expression NGOs, would be a valuable appointment. This proposal was officially rejected in 2019 by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The creation of such a position would however help prevent resolutions and treaties from being largely empty words and would have the political weight, the capacity to move quickly and the legitimacy to coordinate with all UN bodies to implement change.

….. The international community has repeatedly stated the need for a more effective implementation of existing international and regional standards, yet the work still lies ahead of us. Governments should pro-actively (re-)establish their commitment to a free press and the protection of journalists as it is imperative that civil societies across the globe continue to defend right to freedom of expression. This is necessary for the enhancement of people’s lives and for the creation and maintenance of stable and healthy democratic societies.

Aya Wietzorrek

Aya Wietzorrek is a graduate in International Development from The University of Manchester and is currently a research intern in the Governance and Inclusive Development Group at the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/21/2020-world-press-freedom-index-is-out/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/03/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-small-selection-of-cases/ and

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/04/world-press-freedom-day-2020-a-few-more-links/

.https://theowp.org/reports/journalism-under-fire-a-global-surge-in-unlawful-violations-against-journalists/

The unholy wisdom of invoking sovereignty

July 6, 2020

When writing about human rights defenders one comes regularly across invocations of “sovereignty”. Erdogan now uses the hyperbole for Hagia Sophia.

A recent example was India’s reaction to the UN High Commissioner’s amicus curiae brief [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/05/indias-overblown-notion-of-sovereignty-no-to-un-advice-for-supreme-court/] and a recurring one is China [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/12/06/china-and-its-amazing-sensitivity-on-human-rights-defenders/]. The USA feels also strongly: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/12/trump-issues-new-sanctions-on-the-icc-and-human-rights-defenders/.

On 4 July 2020 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – a fervent nationalist – rejected criticism over his willingness to convert Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia landmark into a mosque despite international and domestic concern. “Charges against our country over Hagia Sophia are a direct attack on our right to sovereignty,” Erdogan said. (Interestingly the same day an Istanbul court convicted human rights defenders [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/06/istanbul-court-jails-four-human-rights-defenders-on-terror-charges-seven-acquitted/]). 

We will never resort to seeking your permission or your consent,” he said last month in a retort to warnings from other countries on the Hagia Sophia. “Do you rule Turkey, or do we?”

Turkey’s top court is considering whether the museum can be redesignated as a mosque. Many scholars (not just Greek) think this is a terrible idea: https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/07/06/more-than-300-scholars-across-the-world-appeal-to-turkey-not-to-convert-hagia-sophia-into-a-mosque/.

Moreover, in order to change its status, a decision will have to be made by the Unesco intergovernmental committee. The Art Newspaper understands that the date of Unesco’s next committee meeting has not been set. Unesco declined to comment further regarding the Turkish government’s plans but Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Unesco’s assistant director for culture, told Greek press last month that “before any decision can be taken to change the status of a Cultural Heritage Monument, such as Hagia Sophia, a decision of the relevant Unesco intergovernmental committee is required”. He added that Unesco had written to Turkish authorities in June outlining its concerns but had not yet received a reply.

https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/europe/1593782667-erdogan-interference-over-hagia-sophia-direct-attack-on-our-sovereignty

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/turkish-government-on-collision-course-with-unesco-over-hagia-sophia-mosque-initiative

UNESCO: 9 out of 10 killings of journalists go unpunished

November 4, 2019

The report, called Intensified Attacks, New Defences, covers the period 2014-2018. It assesses trends in the safety of journalists and media professionals around the world and provides an update on the status of journalist killings, based on condemnations issued by the Director-General and recorded in the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists. 2Key findings include the rise in the number of journalist killings and other attacks, as well as the continued trend of widespread impunity. The report highlights the changing nature of violence against journalists, with more and more journalists being killed outside of conflict areas, and the growing prevalence of threats and harassment in the online sphere. It also highlights the specific risks being faced by women journalists, including online where they are disproportionately targeted by harassment and abuse. The intensified attacks against journalists are being met with a growing commitment to monitoring, protection, prevention and prosecution mechanisms for the safety of journalists. New coalitions, involving Members States, civil society, the media and academia reflect a stronger and more coordinated response to the protection of journalists, in line with the logic of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The report also notes that killings of journalists have risen by about 18 percent in the past five years (2014-2018), compared to the previous five-year period.

The deadliest countres for journalists, according to the statistics, are Arab States, where almost a third of the killings took place. The Latin American and Caribbean region (26 percent), and Asian and Pacific States (24 per cent) are the next most dangerous. Journalists are often murdered for their reporting on politics, crime and corruption, and this is reflected in the study, which reveals that, in the past two years (2017-2018), more than half of journalist fatalities were in non-conflict zones. In his statement, the UN Secretary-General noted the rise in the scale and number of attacks on journalists and media workers, as well as incidents that make their work much harder, including “threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of journalistic access, and failures to investigate and prosecute crimes against them”….“Without the ability to protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and contribute to decision-making, is severely hampered.

A high-profile example is the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. The case is being followed by independent UN human rights expert Agnes Callamard, among others, who has suggested that too little has been done by the Maltese authorities to investigate the killing. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/26/son-of-maltese-journalist-daphne-caruana-galizia-tells-un-impunity-continues/]

India has similarly horrifying stories to tell, where the brutal murder of Bangalore-based journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017 made headlines. Lankesh, the editor of Kannada weekly Lankesh Patrike, was shot dead in cold blood by religious activists at her residence, allegedly because of her liberal views. Though one of the six arrested gang members confessed to the crime last year, no convictions have been secured in the case. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/05/27/un-rapporteurs-ask-india-to-protect-journalist-rana-ayyub-and-refer-to-fate-of-gauri-lankesh/]

This year UNESCO has launched the #KeepTruthAlive social media campaign, which draws attention to the dangers faced by journalists close to their homes, highlighting the fact that 93 percent of those killed work locally, and featuring an interactive map created for the campaign, which provides a vivid demonstration of the scale and breadth of the dangers faced by journalists worldwide.

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 »

Reuters journalists in Myanmar jail receive UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Prize

April 13, 2019

Two Reuters journalists who are currently serving seven-year prison sentences in Myanmar are to be awarded the 2019 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize (for more on this and other media awards see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/unesco-guillermo-cano-world-press-freedom-prize). In the press release, president of the jury Wojciech Tochman explained the decision to honor Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, stating the choice “pays a tribute to their courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” and that the men “symbolize their country’s emergence after decades of isolation.”

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two journalists who had been working on stories about a military crackdown and alleged human rights violations in Rakhine state in Myanmar when they were arrested. Their investigation was published by Reuters while they were awaiting trial in February 2018, and included graphic photography and detailed accounts providing evidence that state security forces were implicated in carrying out extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya at the village of Inn Din. The Myanmar government has been accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya Muslims by the U.N. and various human rights organizations since 2016. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/06/50-human-rights-ngos-address-joint-letter-to-aung-san-suu-kyi-on-reuters-journalists/]

They were named as TIME’s Person of the Year last December. Earlier this month they received AI UK media awards [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/09/amnesty-uk-media-awards-sets-good-example/.]

For last year’s laureate see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/20/3-may-world-press-freedom-day-awards-for-journalists/.

The award will be presented on UNESCO’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa on 2 May.

http://time.com/5568605/myanmar-journalists-jailed-unesco-press-freedom/

Cuban Roberto Fernandez Retamar to win UNESCO’s Jose Marti Prize

January 25, 2019

Third annual Sporting Chance Forum in Paris is over

December 14, 2018

The third annual Sporting Chance Forum brought together some 300 delegates from a broad range of stakeholders to drive progress toward a world of sport that fully respects human rights.  Representatives of affected groups, sports bodies, governments, trade unions, sponsors, NGOs, broadcasters, NHRIs, and intergovernmental organisations gathered in Paris at UNESCO under the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reports follow in early 2019.Hosted this year by the new Centre for Sport and Human Rights, UNESCO and Institute for Human Rights and Business, the Forum covered a diversity of geographies and issues including a special spotlight on survivors of sexual abuse, athletes’ rights, worker safety, fan monitoring, media freedom, child rights, and community wellbeing.

There was also a special session  dedicated to Human Rights of Defenders, Activists, and Journalists with the following speakers:

  • Lene Wendland (Chief, Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
  • Maryam Shojaei (Founder, My Fundamental Right)
  • Andreas Graf (Human Rights Manager, FIFA)
  • Courtney Radsch (Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists)
  • Moderated by: Piara Powar (Executive Director, FARE Network)

FIFA was one of the participants and reported as follows on its upcoming participation: FIFA is actively supporting the development of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights and we are glad to participate at the Sporting Chance Forum to share our experiences and best practices, and learn from stakeholders and other experts that are also dedicated to promoting human rights in sport. Since 2016, FIFA has strengthened and systematised its human rights work following guidance from the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Examples include:

  • Inclusion of an article on human rights in the FIFA Statutes in 2016 (see article 3)
  • Development of a Human Rights Policy in 2017 in accordance with principle 16 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and international best practice
  • Systematic human rights due diligence checks and integration of human rights in the bidding and hosting requirements for its tournaments
  • Set up of an independent Human Rights Advisory Board which provides FIFA with independent expert advice on its efforts to implement article 3 of its statutes, with members from the UN system, NGOs, trade unions, FIFA sponsors and other relevant organisations, as well as regular consultation and cooperation with a large number of additional stakeholders.
  • Launch of a complaints mechanism for human rights defenders and media representatives who consider their rights to have been violated while performing work related to FIFA tournaments.

See also my recent post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/12/mary-harvey-her-goal-is-now-human-rights/

https://www.sporthumanrights.org

https://www.fifa.com/governance/news/y=2018/m=12/news=fifa-participates-at-the-sporting-chance-forum-in-paris.html

 

Myanmar: time for Aung San Suu Kyi to return (at least some of) her many human rights awards?

September 3, 2017

While receiving sharply worded emails and social media messages that the Rohingyas in Myanmar do not exist or have been ‘invented by the Saudis’, other more sober contributions put the serious question – whether with hindsight – Aung San Suu Kyi should not give back the many international awards she has received.  Aung San Suu Kyi is the recipient of at least 15 international awards (e.g. Nobel Peace Prize, Rafto, Sakharov, AI’s Ambassador of Conscience, Vaclav Havel Price for Creative Dissent). The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence (SIC) seems especially awkward.

Almost a year ago I referred in a blog post [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/20/how-awards-can-get-it-wrong-four-controversial-decisions-in-one-week/] to “a serious expression of concern by an ethnic minority: Prensa Latina reported on 19 September that hundreds of Muslim students demonstrated against the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award 2016 given to Minister of State of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi by the Harvard Foundation. According to the website of the Harvard Foundation recent prizes of that foundation were given to education activist Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon. According to the Mizzima news agency, the young people consider that Aung San Suu Kyi does nothing to handle the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority. According to the local press, Suu Kyi herself considered, while receiving the prize, that in her country there is still a long way to go before saying that the people are free and safe.

Now Reuters reports that about 120,000 people – mostly displaced and stateless Rohingya Muslims – in Rakhine camps are not receiving food supplies or healthcare after contractors for the World Food Program suspended operations following the government accusations. Staff have been too afraid to show up for work. “As a result of the disruption of activities in central Rakhine state, many people are not receiving their normal food assistance and primary healthcare services have been severe disrupted,” said Pierre Peron, a spokesman for the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

Suu Kyi’s government refuses to allow UN investigators and the media access to parts of Rakhine where rights monitors fear a campaign of ethnic cleansing is underway.

Suu Kyi was idolised while spending 15 years as a prisoner of Myanmar’s army generals. Now she refuses to speak up for 1.1 million stateless and long persecuted Rohingya. She may not control her country’s armed forces but, since taking high office, Suu Kyi has refused to acknowledge the plight of the Rohingya in any meaningful way. She deflects questions about the persecution of Rohingya, saying only the “rule of law” must apply in Rakhine. She also dismisses the independent UN inquiry as “not suitable for the situation of our country.”

……Some human rights activists who campaigned for years for Suu Kyi’s release when she was a political prisoner now feel a deep sense of betrayal from the woman they formerly saw as a heroine. Perhaps it is time for her to hand back her Noble Peace Prize. (The story The ‘human catastrophe’ that betrays Suu Kyi’s Nobel prize first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.)

Front line Defenders reported on 2 August that human rights defender Ko Swe Win was prevented from travelling and detained in connection with defamation charges on 30 July 2017,  at Yangon International Airport as he was trying to fly  to Bangkok. He was reportedly taken into police custody in relation to a defamation case brought by a follower of extremist Buddhist monk U Wirathu, who told the police he believed Ko Swe Win was attempting to flee the country. Despite the defamation lawsuit filed against him, no travel restrictions were issued against Ko Swe Win. The human rights defender was released on bail on 31 July 2017. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/11/23/burma-continued-prosecution-of-human-rights-defenders-and-peaceful-demonstrators/

Sources:

http://sea-globe.com/myanmar-war-on-terror/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/ko-swe-win

Arakan and traces of blood on Nobel Prize – Saadet Oruç – Daily Sabah

http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/4896812/the-human-catastrophe-that-betrays-suu-kyis-nobel-prize/?cs=4141

Eritrean-born journalist Dawit Isaak awarded 2017 UNESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

May 4, 2017

Dawit Isaak in Sweden circa 1987-88 © Kalle Ahlsén
Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist, has been chosen to receive the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Mr. Isaak was arrested in a crackdown on the media that occurred in September 2001. The last time he was heard from was in 2005. His present location is unknown.  An independent international jury of media professionals recommended unanimously Mr. Isaak in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression, and the recommendation was endorsed by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Defending fundamental freedoms calls for determination and courage – it calls for fearless advocates,” said Irina Bokova. “This is the legacy of Guillermo Cano, and the message we send today with this decision to highlight the work of Dawit Isaak.” Dawit Isaak joins a long list of courageous journalists who have persevered to shed light in the dark spaces; keeping their communities informed against all odds,” said Cilla Benkö, President of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 Jury. “Some have given their lives in the pursuit of truth. Many have been imprisoned. Dawit Isaak has spent nearly 16 years in jail, without charge or trial. I sincerely hope that with this award the world will say, ‘Free Dawit Isaak Now.’”

Dawit Isaak, a playwright, journalist and writer, moved to Sweden in 1987, where he later became a citizen. After the independence of Eritrea, he returned to his homeland to become one of the founders and reporters of Setit, the first independent newspaper in the country. He was known for his critical and insightful reporting. Mr. Isaak was arrested in September 2001 during a political crackdown on the so-called G-15, a group of politicians, and journalists critical of Government policies. Some were detained and tortured, others disappeared. The last known sighting of Mr. Isaak was in 2005. His whereabouts now are unknown.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, said: “The Eritrean authorities should stop the practice of arrests and detention carried out without legal basis instantly,” welcoming the award of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 to Mr. Isaak.

The Prize was awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, hosted in Jakarta, Indonesia this year in the presence of the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo.

Created by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1997, the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.

The $25,000 Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá, on 17 December 1986. It is funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/02/14/reporters-without-borders-published-its-2014-world-press-freedom-index/

Sources:

Eritrean-born journalist Dawit Isaak awarded UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017

http://mareeg.com/eritrea-must-free-prize-winning-journalist-says-un-human-rights-expert/