Friday, March 13, 2009

Say “No” Vote on "Religious Defamation "

Geneva: ARTICLE 19 Campaigns for a “No” Vote on Religious Defamation at Human Rights Council

ARTICLE 19 is urging UN Human Rights Council members to vote against a resolution on “defamation of religions” at its regular session in Geneva this month.
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) will likely propose a resolution on combating defamation of religion during the 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in March 2009, although it has not yet made public the text of this resolution.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that resolutions of this type represent a step back from established principles of freedom of expression because they limit free speech and disallow criticism of a religious belief.. They go beyond the concept of group defamation, since they may even prohibit the defamation of religious ideas and doctrines and limit the possibility for free debate or criticism of religion. “The concept of defamation of religion is vague and has no basis in international law. International human rights laws protect the rights of individuals; they do not protect religions, ideologies or belief systems,” says Dr Sejal Parmar, Senior Legal Officer for ARTICLE 19. “The resolution seeks to protect the belief, rather than the believers.”Equally, ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the concept, if passed into national legislation in some countries, may lead to persecution of those who challenge religious doctrine, as well as possible prosecution of religious minorities or a general silencing of dissenting voices. ARTICLE 19 has actively lobbied 23 countries expressing serious concerns about this proposed resolution. The last time a similar resolution came before the HRC, 21 states voted in favour, 11 against and 14 abstained. ARTICLE 19 is now lobbying states who abstained to vote against the resolution, and states who voted in favour to now abstain. Defamation of religion was first introduced into the UN system in 1999 and several resolutions have passed through the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in recent years. “ARTICLE 19 believes that the adoption of further resolutions on defamation of religions will undermine the established framework of international human rights law as well as the credibility of the Human Rights Council itself,” comments Dr Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.Instead, ARTICLE 19 recommends that the UN must not allow the concept of “defamation of religion” to become the international standard, Instead, the countries should commit to implementing a key provision (article 20) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which prohibits “advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.
• For more information: please contact Nicola Spurr:; Tel: +44 2072789292; Mob: +44 7726867868• The OIC is a delegation to the UN which represents 57 countries aligned to Islamic values.

Yemen: Women Journalists Subjected to Censorship and Slanderous Attack

Under muslim laws women are degraded, it should be stopped .[157]=x-157-555372

ARTICLE 19 marks International Women’s Day on 8 March with the release of a report analysing the role and representation of women in the Yemeni media.
Yemen: Women Journalists Subjected to Censorship and Slanderous Attack
It is not easy to be a woman working for the media in Yemen, according to the research findings. Female journalists who criticise the government or the country’s President are regularly subjected to public slander in rival publications. This takes the form of insults or fabricated allegations about their personal lives, often published in publications owned or controlled by the government. Public insults against women are particularly damaging in a country where women struggle to achieve prominence in public and professional life. Yemen is a conservative society which has a rigid code of “honour” and insinuations against an individual’s morality can have a devastating impact.In Yemen, the media is frequently censored and all journalists run the risk of being harassed or threatened by the state if they openly criticise the government. All broadcast media is state-owned and controlled in Yemen and, while there are several independent newspapers and magazines, they may also censor themselves for fear of attack. Yet, it seems that women journalists are exposed to much more severe forms of attack, simply because they are women.The research also found that women are severely under-represented in the Yemeni media. Less than 20 per cent of articles are written by women and less than 30 per cent of articles feature women as sources. Stories about women overwhelmingly fall into a broadly “social” category, thereby conveying the perspective that women’s roles are mostly confined to the family and home. There are very few stories that depict women in leadership, in public life and in positions of authority. In addition, 50 per cent of articles about women portray them in an extremely negative light – either as victims, as morally compromised, or as somehow responsible for social ills. “ARTICLE 19 calls on editors and media owners to protect women journalists from slanderous attack,” comments ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Dr Agnès Callamard, “and to ensure that stories featuring women, reflecting women’s experiences and portraying women as fully-fledged members of society are given more prominence.”ARTICLE 19 has also called upon the Yemeni government to ensure that freedom of expression is protected and enhanced, and that all means of censoring the media are immediately stopped. The research was conducted by ARTICLE 19, in collaboration with the Yemeni Female Media Forum, and forms part of a larger project working to create a supportive legal framework for the media in Yemen.

• For the full report, please visit:• For more information: please contact Jasmine O’Connor, ARTICLE 19 Senior Director for Development at or +44 20 7278 9292.

Sri Lanka: Free Journalist Detained on Terrorism Charges

For more information: please contact Oliver Spencer,, +44 20 7278 9292

Sri Lanka: Free Journalist Detained on Terrorism Charges
365 days after Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam was detained under Anti-Terrorism legislation, ARTICLE 19 joins many people and organisations around the world calling for his immediate release.
Tissainayagam, now an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, was detained without charge on 7 March 2008. Following international calls for his release the Sri Lankan authorities finally brought charges against him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on 25 August 2008 for a series of newspaper articles. According to journalist and former Convener of the Sri Lankan Free Media Movement, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, “Tissainayagam was considered a kind of bridge between the north and south, or the Sinhalese and the Tamils. He has written many articles concerning the ethnic situation in Sri Lanka.”Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director ARTICLE 19 adds “over the past 3 years more than 14 journalists have been killed in Sri Lanka and many have escaped to India and the West, fearing for their lives. Tissainayagam’s case well demonstrates the threats that counter terrorism legislation and measures pose to freedom of the press, as they are so easily abused. His continued imprisonment for the peaceful expression of his opinion sadly constitutes one of the many violations that are common place in today’s Sri Lanka, including wide censorship, self-censorship, death threats, violence and arbitrary arrests.”Today ARTICLE 19 joins seven media rights organisations in demanding that the Sri Lankan government urgently review his case. To read the full statement, visit: read past ARTICLE 19 statements on Tissainayagam’s case, visit:• Sri Lanka: Journalist Still in Detention After 250 Days -• Sri Lanka: Free Speech Indicted -

Journalist Tissainayagam to get “Reporters without borders” Award

Detained Sri Lankan Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam has been designated as a recipient of a prestigious award by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Tissainayagam is behind bars in Sri Lanka being the first journalist to be charged under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act for his journalistic writing.
[J.S. Tissainayagam-in Aug 2008]
The awards will be distributed on Thursday 4 December, 11 a.m., at the Espace Fondation EDF, 6 rue Récamier, in Paris, Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, will present the prize to the winners.
Tissainayagam has been given the award under Category 1 which relates to "Journalists who through their work, their principled stand or their attitude have displayed support for freedom of information".
The citation about Tissainayagam is as follows:Sri Lanka - J. S. Tissainayagam
Currently held in appalling conditions in a Colombo prison, Tamil journalist J. S. Tissainayagam was arrested in March 2008 while working on the launch of the news website Outreachlk. He was charged with terrorism on the basis of articles he wrote in 2006 in which he referred to a military offensive in the Tamil region that was accompanied, he said, by a terrible humanitarian crisis for the civilian population. This is the first time that a journalist has been held on terrorism charges because of what he wrote.
A contributor to the Sunday Times newspaper, Tissainayagam set up Outreachlk in February 2008 with funding from the German development agency GTZ. His lawyer has never been allowed to speak to him in private all the time he has been held by the anti-terrorism police in the capital. Attempts have been made to intimidate his wife and European parliamentarians had to intercede in order to get the authorities to agree to let him have the glasses he needs to read. Two other journalists are being held in connection with the case.
The 2008 nominees in the "Journalist" category in addition to Tissainayagam are :
Niger - Moussa Kaka
Syria - Michel Kilo
Russia - Natalia Morar
Vietnam - Nguyen Viet Chien
Cuba - Ricardo González Alfonso

Small Concession Masks Significant Obstruction

• For more information: please contact Oliver Spencer,, +44 20 7278 9292

Burma, ASEAN: Small Concession Masks Significant Obstruction

Whilst welcome news, the Burmese regime’s release of prisoners and their promises of more to come masks the forcible way in which they obstructed any development of a human rights agreement at the recent ASEAN Summit.

Over the weekend news emerged that the Burmese military regime had released 23 prisoners, including one MP from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. The release was accompanied by an announcement on Friday that 6,313 prisoners would be freed over the coming days.“ARTICLE 19 welcomes the releases and calls on the Burmese authorities to deliver on its promises to free more political prisoners. We particularly urge the authorities to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their political opinions.” said Dr. Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. Unfortunately, the timing of these releases could not be more significant. They coincided with the Burmese authorities’ strenuous efforts to block and veto any human rights agreements on the ASEAN Summit agenda over the weekend.The Summit held in Thailand brought together the ASEAN member states, all of whom have ratified the ASEAN Charter containing a provision (Article 14) to establish a regional human rights body, similar to those already in existence in Europe, Africa and the Americas. Led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand has been pushing for such as body to be agreed during its chairmanship of ASEAN:
“We need to make ASEAN more people-centred…Protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms is a key feature of our community.
”Deplorably the Burmese regime undermined any possibility for agreement on a new charter, vetoed the attendance of human rights campaigners and blocked dialogue with civil society.
“The ASEAN member states must do more for human rights protection in Burma and must do it better. The lack of courage in addressing what constitutes one of the major human rights crises in the world reflects badly on all member states and on ASEAN and does not augur well of its human rights commitment and capacities.” adds Dr. Callamard.Unsurprisingly the current draft of the human rights body leaked to The Associated Press over the weekend is similarly reportedly weak with no powers to investigate or prosecute rights abusers and complete with provisions that reject external interference.

Three Depressed terrorists

Three Depressed terrorists
Terrorism is inhuman act, an evil concept