Flix Friday, May 01, 2015 - 05:30
On World Press Freedom Day, journalists, writers, artists and others have called on governments to reaffirm their commitment to freedom of speech and express, and not use the Charlie Hebdo attack as an excuse to increase state surveillance. A statement issued by dozens of organizations from around the world, have put forward a list of six demands, urging governments across the world not increase state surveillance and curb free speech by using the Charlie Hebdo attacks as a pretext. While reaffirming their own “commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that we and others may find difficult, or even offensive”, the signatories also demanded the same from governments around the world. The statement also said that although there had been attacks on the media in Europe and elsewhere, “many of the most disturbing reactions – and the most serious threats to freedom of expression – have come from governments”. Citing examples from the governments of Turkey, Russia, Senegal, India, Egypt, Kenya, the statement added: “This kind of governmental response is chilling because a particularly insidious threat to our right to free expression is self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the state. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.” The statement called upon governments across the world to: Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, especially journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely; Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, especially for journalists, artists and human rights defenders to perform their work without interference; Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others threatened for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations that bring masterminds behind attacks on journalists to justice, and ensure victims and their families have speedy access to appropriate remedies; Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially such as vague and overbroad national security, sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence journalists and others exercising free expression; Promote voluntary self-regulation mechanisms, completely independent of governments, for print media;Ensure that the respect of human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.   Read the full statement here.