Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize open for nominations

12 January 2011

UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize open for nominations


Guillermo Cano
Guillermo Cano
UNESCO


Organisations working in the field of journalism and free expression are invited to submit nominations for the 2011 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2011.

Named in tribute to the Colombian journalist who was killed in 1986 for criticising the country's drug lords, the US$25,000 award honours a journalist or organisation that has made a notable contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially if this involved risk.

Last year's award went to Chilean journalist Mónica González Mujica, who investigated human rights violations of General Augusto Pinochet and his family, and was imprisoned and tortured for her work from 1984 to 1985.

The award will be presented on 3 May 2011 in Washington D.C. on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. This year's theme is 21st century media.

Human Rights Watch accuses UN of being soft on abuse

26 January 2011

Human Rights Watch accuses UN of being soft on abuse

Human Rights Watch's annual report on human rights has faulted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other major leaders for taking a soft approach of "quiet dialogue" and "cooperation" to avoid publicly singling out countries that abuse human rights.

The 649-page "World Report 2011" accuses Ban, who is up for re-election later this year, of acting timidly in dealing with powerful Security Council members like China, even portraying oppressive governments in a "positive light" to avoid controversy.

"In recent years the use of dialogue and cooperation in lieu of public pressure has emerged with a vengeance at the UN, from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to many members of the Human Rights Council," wrote executive director Kenneth Roth in the introduction.

As an example, Human Rights Watch cites Ban's failure to congratulate Liu Xiaobo, the choice for the Nobel Peace Prize that enraged Chinese officials, or to call for his release from jail. Ban has, however, espoused the value of "quiet diplomacy" in approaching leaders like President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Burmese leader Senior General Than Shwe.

His soft approach echoes through the system, with United Nations country teams reticent to speak out on abuses in places like Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, the report says.

Other organisations and leaders besides the UN are criticised. For instance, Human Rights Watch says, the European Union is a regular offender of trying for "constructive dialogues."

"Even when the EU issues a statement of concern on human rights, it is often not backed by a comprehensive strategy for change," says Human Rights Watch. The report also points to the EU's unwillingness to address rights abuses by its own member states, especially in the face of rising intolerance against migrants and inadequate access to asylum.

U.S. President Barack Obama's "famed eloquence ... has sometimes eluded him when it comes to defending human rights.," says the report. The U.S. has been mute on human rights abuses with important bilateral partners like China, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, it contends.

Emerging powers like South Africa, Brazil and India have also developed "quiet demarches" to countries like Burma and Sri Lanka, the report says.

"Dialogue and cooperation have their place, but the burden should be on the abusive government to show a genuine willingness to improve," Roth says. "In the absence of the demonstrated political will by abusive governments to make change, governments of good will need to apply pressure to end repression."

Human Rights Watch's 21st annual review of human rights practices around the globe summarises major human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide.

Click here to access "World Report 2011".

Source : IFEX

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

UN HRC: International Community Urge Nepal to Address Impunity and Protect Journalists

ARTICLE 19

PRESS RELEASE

25 January 2011

UN HRC: International Community Urge Nepal to Address Impunity and Protect Journalists

Geneva, 25.01.2011: At the tenth session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group today, countries from around the world recommended the Nepali government immediately address the growing impunity in the country, and protect journalists and human rights defenders from attacks.

“The international community has come together during today’s review to highlight the growing concern about impunity in the country and call for the government to address the worrying situation,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

ARTICLE 19 attended the UPR of Nepal, during which impunity was by far the most repeated issue by the delegates, with reference to the continuous attacks against media workers and human rights defenders in Nepal.

The Czech Republic, Canada, France and the United States of America recommended the government of Nepal safeguard the security of journalists and implement adequate measures for the protection and investigation of crimes against journalists and human rights defenders.

The Czech Republic specifically called for thorough investigation and prosecution into the case of the murder of female reporter Uma Singh in 2009. Norway also recommended the government to investigate attacks against female journalists and prosecute the perpetrators. France urged the government to address the lack of enforcement of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and information.

Impunity was also addressed by Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and the UK.

In response, the government of Nepal pledged to tackle impunity and address the human rights concerns of the delegates. But the government was unwilling to accept the role of the Nepali Army in the continuation of widespread impunity, arguing that: “the Nepali Army are fully supportive of human rights and any issues are not supported by policy … The Nepali Army is the source of Nepali democracy.”

The recommendations made by the international community at the UPR of Nepal, were in line with those made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stakeholders’ report, to which ARTICLE 19 and Freedom Forum jointly contributed.

In their joint submission in August 2010, ARTICLE 19 and Freedom Forum highlighted five areas of concern, including (1) killing of and violent attacks against journalists and human rights defenders, (2) impunity for attacks and political protection, (3) freedom of expression in the Interim Constitution and overall legal framework fail to meet international standards, (4) regulation of the media fails to promote independence and transparency, (5) the government has failed to give a full effect to the right to freedom of information.

ENDS

NOTES :


• For more information please contact: Oliver Spencer, Advocacy Officer, ARTICLE 19, at oliver@article19.org or +44 7837833893 (in Geneva to 27 Jan 2011); or Krishna Sapkota, Freedom Forum, at info@freedomforum.org.np or 977-1-410-2030 (in Kathmandu, Nepal).

• For a copy of ARTICLE 19 and Freedom Forum’s Submission to the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, see: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/submissions/nepal-report.pdf

• The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was established in 2006 as a way for the UN Human Rights Council, a set of country delegations elected to represent each region worldwide, to review the human rights situation in every state that is a member of the UN

• ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

• Freedom Forum is an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit civil society organization working for the causes of democracy, protection and promotion of human rights, press freedom, freedom of expression and right to information in Nepal.

UN HRC: Widespread Condemnation of Burma at Human Rights Review

ARTICLE 19

PRESS RELEASE

UN HRC: Widespread Condemnation of Burma at Human Rights Review
Geneva, 27.01.2011: The Burmese government was today urged by countries around the world - during the tenth session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group - to end violations of the right to freedom of expression and other human rights, prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses, and begin a process of real reform in the country.
Burma sent a large delegation to the review, who claimed to have achieved a number of human right successes,” says Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. “But the presence of an even larger group of Burmese civil society representatives, coupled with widespread condemnation of the country’s human rights violations conveyed the severity of the human rights situation.”

Countries including the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United States of America raised concerns about the systematic violation of a number of basic human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of assembly and association. Norway specifically called for the abolition of the Press Scrutiny Board and the Broadcasting Censorship Board, both of which are mandated to approve all media content. ARTICLE 19 echoed these concerns in its submission to the UN UPR of Burma in August 2010.

UN Human Rights Council country delegations - apart from India and China who remained silent throughout the review - called on the Burmese government to immediately ratify and implement the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights as well as other international human rights instruments relating to refugees, racial discrimination, enforced disappearance, child labour, child soldiers. Although the release of Aung San Suu Kyi was welcomed, many countries called for the release of all 2,100 political prisoners.

The Czech Republic delegation was the first to highlight the Burmese government’s lack of engagement in the UPR process. Several other delegations also expressed disappointment that the government failed to answer any questions previously submitted by member states.

During the review, the Burmese government stated that it undertook their own investigation into alleged human rights violations, raised by the UN Special Rapporteurs and other international actors, and found them to be “unverifiable and turned out to be false.” They added that “in practice, we have very well trained judges and the media is allowed to sit in the court. Judges are trained to be fair and impartial ... it is little known to the world that many of our laws are the same as international human rights instruments.”

ENDS
NOTES :
• For more information please contact: Oliver Spencer, Advocacy Officer, ARTICLE 19, at oliver@article19.org or +44 207 324 2500.
• For a copy of ARTICLE 19’s submission to the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, see: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/submissions/union-of-myanmar-article-19-submission-to-the-un-universal-periodic-review.pdf
• The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was established in 2006 as a way for the UN Human Rights Council, a set of country delegations elected to represent each region worldwide, to review the human rights situation in every state that is a member of the UN.
• ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

Draft General Comment No. 34 on Freedom Of Opinion & Expression

ARTICLE 19

STATEMENT

Draft General Comment No. 34 on Freedom Of Opinion & Expression
Geneva 31.01.11: ARTICLE 19 has submitted a Statement to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations detailing its concerns on Draft General Comment No. 34 relating to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on freedom of opinion and expression.
In ARTICLE 19’s opinion, the Draft is a progressive interpretation of the right to freedom of expression as protected by Article 19 of the ICCPR. We welcome in particular the following features of the Draft:

• The statement that State parties should ensure that “persons are protected from any acts of private persons or entities that would impair the enjoyment of freedom of opinion and expression;”
• The recognition that States parties “must take particular care to encourage an independent and diverse media ... access to the media for minority groups;”
• The explicit recognition that Article 19 of the ICCPR encompasses “a general right of access to information.”

However, ARTICLE 19 is concerned by a number of weaknesses in the Draft which ought to be addressed before it is finalised. Most notably, the Draft:

• Overlooks a number of important aspects of the legal protection for the right to information, including the need for an independent and autonomous oversight body, proactive disclosure of information by public bodies and the protection of whistleblowers;
• Fails to highlight basic principles concerning the exercise of freedom of expression through information and communications technologies (ICTs);
• Fails to affirm the right of journalists and others not to disclose their confidential sources;
• Fails to assert a clear and unequivocal position against all criminal defamation laws and laws prohibiting blasphemy or “defamation of religions.”

To assist the Human Rights Committee in finalising General Comment No. 34, ARTICLE 19’s Statement elaborates on these and other shortfalls of the Draft, as well as providing recommendations to overcome them. ARTICLE 19 submitted its Statement which includes 35 recommendations to the Human Rights Committee on Friday 28 January 2011.

ENDS
NOTES :
• For more information please contact Sejal Parmar, Senior Legal Officer, +44 20 7324 2500 sejal@article19.org
• For draft General Comment No. 34 (upon completion of first reading by the Human Rights Council) 25 November 2010 CCPR/C/GC/34/CRP.5 visit www.article19.org/pdfs/analysis/unhrc-comment-34.pdf
• ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

Three Depressed terrorists

Three Depressed terrorists
Terrorism is inhuman act, an evil concept
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