UN to Host Forum on ‘Defending Artistic Expression’ in March 2015

The United Nations Working Group on Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression is organizing a special open event on Defending Artistic Expression set to hold on March 6, 2015.

This event is led by Article 19, International Centre Against Censorship and scheduled for 10:00 – 12:00 at Palais des Nations, Geneva in Room XXIII. It is a key side event at the Human Rights Council’s 28th regular session at the United Nations in Geneva which is to hold March 2 to 27, 2015.

The event will discuss the concerns regarding censorship of artistic expression by different governments and organizations. A panel of experts, moderated by Secretary General of the Community of Democracies, Ambassador Maria Leissner, and Senior Director for Law and Policy at Article 19, Barbora Bukovska, will bring together the following speakers:

  • David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, United Nations
  • Issa Nyaphaga, Performance artist, Cameroon
  • Zunar, Political Cartoonist, Malaysia
  • Nadia Plesner, Artist, Denmark
  • Nathalia Kaliada, Co-Founder of Belarus Free Theatre, Belarus

The event is open to the public. Representatives of diplomatic missions, non-governmental organizations and media active in Geneva are welcome to attend.

Artists play a critical role in all societies, exercising freedom of expression in its most direct form to exchange ideas, transmit culture, inspire, pose questions, and to give a voice to the voiceless. Art transcends linguistic and cultural barriers, and in the digital age its reach is unprecedented. Art today is one of the most powerful tool to challenge the status quo and rebuke authoritarianism, to stand up for human rights, and to defiantly evoke freedom where repression seeks to dominate.

WACMN Releases West Africa Contract Monitoring Publication

The West Africa Contract Monitoring Network, in collaboration with the World Bank, has released a West Africa Contract Monitoring publication towards improving the transparency and accountability of public procurement and contracting systems in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The publication looked at Contract Transparency in the Road and School Building Sectors in Ghana; Context, the Projects, Challenges, Results, Outcomes and Lessons Learned. In Liberia, it examined the Effectiveness of Procurement Processes in Waste Management and How They Affect Communities Across Monrovia; the Problem, Context, Addressing the Waste Management Problem of the City of Monrovia through the Liberia Country Coalition’s Activities, Challenges, Results, Outcomes and Lessons Learned.

The publication also looked into Fostering Multistakeholder Engagement for Effective Public Procurement in Nigeria; The Nigeria Project, Tasks Implemented, Challenges, Results and Lessons Learned. The Sierra Leone analysis examined the Monitoring World Bank-Funded Public Contracts and Procurement; The Problem, The Sierra Leone Project, Tasks Implemented, Challenges, Results and Lessons Learned.

In 2010, the World Bank’s Africa Core Operations Services and the World Bank Institute (WBI) conceptualized the West Africa Contract Monitoring Network (WACMN) to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) in four West African countries namely, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the monitoring of public procurement and contracting systems.

WACMN was expected to: build a regional network of stakeholders committed to moving the agenda of contract monitoring forward on the regional level across the four countries; establish sustainable monitoring coalitions of diverse stakeholders in each of the four target countries will continue to oversee contracting processes after the program ends; and contribute to improved transparency and accountability of procurement/contracting processes in priority sectors/projects.

The regional coordinator for WACMN was the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), which worked with the various country coalitions made up of representatives from CSOs, the private and public sectors and the media.

The Country Convening Organizations were the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) for Ghana, the Public Private Development Center (PPDC) for Nigeria, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) for Liberia, and the Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI) for Sierra Leone.

Each country coalition decided on which projects it would monitor. The Nigeria Country Coalition Members/Organizations were Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC; convening institution), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Abimbola Akosile (Investigative Journalist), Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Centre for Organizational and Professional Ethics (COPE-AFRICA), Initiative for Food, Environment and Health Society (IFEHS); Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).

Submissions Open for 2015 Google/Knight Foundation Data Journalism Awards for Media Practitioners

Submissions are now open for the Data Journalism Awards (DJAs) 2015 run by the Global Editors Network (GEN) and sponsored by the Knight Foundation and Google. The DJAs reward outstanding work in the field of data journalism in any media worldwide.

The Data Journalism Awards 2015 will be awarding a €1,500 prize to each of its ten categories and seek to reward examples of data driven investigations, data driven applications and storytelling with data visualisation, which cover matters relevant to society and aim to have an impact at a societal level.

The fourth annual DJA will conclude with the DJA Ceremony to be held on June 18, 2015 during the GEN Summit in Barcelona to showcase the best of data journalism worldwide.

Simon Rogers, Data Editor at Twitter, is the new DJA Director and five new jury members have joined for 2015 with Paul Steiger as President of the Jury. New categories have been introduced to recognise the development and innovation in data journalism including a Public’s Choice prize. A monthly newsletter with the best work in data journalism will be curated by Simon Rogers.

Eligibility Requirements are:

  • Media companies, non-profit organisations, freelancers or individuals are all eligible
  • Works produced by individuals or teams of staffers from media companies and non-profit organisations as well as freelancers or individuals are all eligible for entry.
  • Works that are the result of a collaboration between organisations may also be submitted.
  • Works produced by staffers or freelancers collaborating with government agencies, business or trade organisations with a stake (financial or of other nature) in the issue at hand are not eligible.
  • Works that include significant input from the members of the jury will not be accepted for entry into the competition.

The DJA administrators have the final authority to determine whether an entry is eligible or not.

The ten categories are

  1. Data visualisation of the year: Best interactive or static visualisation based on data which may be self-contained or combined with a story but must accomplish a journalistic purpose and use data significantly. A maximum of three elements is allowed per entry.
  2. Investigation of the year: Best data-driven investigation which uses data collection and analysis to disclose or spotlight a significant abuse of power or failure to uphold the public interest. A maximum of five elements; stories and data presentations will be allowed per entry.
  3. News data app of the year: Best data journalism application in which interactivity is important and the project provides both explanation of the topic and an opportunity for users to explore the topic and create their own story. A maximum of five elements per entry.
  4. Data journalism website of the year: Best data-based journalism website based on quality of content, frequency and variety of subjects covered. A maximum of ten examples per entry.
  5. Best individual portfolio: Based on quality of content, frequency and variety of subjects covered. A maximum of ten examples per entry.
  6. Best use of data in a breaking news story within first 36 hours: Best data-based journalism around a breaking news story within the first hours of the story breaking based on quality of content, frequency and variety of subjects covered.
  7. Open data award: Using freedom of information and/or other levers to make crucial databases open and accessible for re-use and for creating data-based stories.
  8. Best entry from a small newsroom with fewer than 25 journalists not otherwise honored in the competition.
  9. General excellence (Jurors’ Choice): An entry of high excellence not otherwise honored in this competition.
  10. Public choice: An entry of high excellence selected by the public.

The submission deadline is April 8, 2015 at 23h59 GMT and all work must have been published or aired between April 10, 2014 and April 4, 2015. All submissions must be in English. Entries in languages other than English will be accepted provided that they are accompanied by translations of the work.

Words included in graphics, databases and applications must also be translated and radio material must be transcribed in English and video material must contain English subtitles. If a work originally published in a language other than English passes the pre-jury selection stage, applicants may be asked to provide additional information and translations.

Entries are allowed to have been published on any other media platform: online, radio, audio, broadcast, print or a combination of platforms. Entries are allowed to be an individual work or a series of works or from a small or large newsroom in specific categories.

Projects are to be submitted on the new platform, the GEN Community. This recently launched community already has over 1,000 media innovators and over 350 projects to discover. As much information as possible should be provided on projects including anything relevant which can help the jury with their decision. To provide more detailed information about portfolio projects, different fields such as URLs, videos, embedded documents and additional files can be used.

The pre-jury will assign each project to the category deemed fit. Submissions will be reviewed monthly by a pre-jury and five to ten projects of the best will be shortlisted per month and submitted to the jury in April 2015, giving better chances for selection. For the personal portfolio category, submissions should be presented as one entry with a general description covering all projects within the entry.

For More Information, visit the Official Webpage of the 2015 Data Journalism Awards: https://www.globaleditorsnetwork.org/programmes/data-journalism-awards/

The Global Editors Network and its jury members wish all contestants the best of luck for this year’s competition and look forward to discovering the projects.

Working Group Proposes New Media Strategy for the EU

An outline of a new “EU Strategy for Independent and Sustainable Media” has been proposed by a Working Group of journalists, publishers and media professionals hosted by Foundation EurActiv. The strategy was recommended by the working group as a fresh approach to revive the media sector in view of the weak policies at EU and the collapse of long standing businesses.

The Working Group was set up following the Association of European Journalists Congress in Brussels in November 2013 and is chaired by Christophe Leclercq, Founder of Fondation EurActiv. At the 2013 congress, there was a debate on EU media projects which led to voting to create a working group on issues of public interest and support for independent media coverage of EU policies. The working group was intended to not only include representative of the AEJ sections that have interest in the matter but also include other experts.

Former commissioners have endorsed proposals for the EU to have a media strategy to assist the sector in dealing with the technology revolution and economic crisis, and to eradicate the burdensome regulations from the sector.

Foundation EurActiv organized the #Media4EU event in the European Parliament on January 29. The event was attended by +120+ policy-makers, stakeholders and media representatives who considered and discussed an EU strategy for independent and sustainable media in Europe. The strategy comprises 6 Policy Principles along with 6 matching Practical EU Actions. This strategy would require the establishment of a High-Level Group to give advice and recommendations on EU media policy during the current mandate.

The policy principles outlined in the strategy draft include

  • Provide an EU STRATEGY for a healthy media sector, to overcome technology and economic crises.
  • Let COMMERCIAL revenues grow, not adding unnecessary regulation
  • Facilitate press INDEPENDENCE by separating EU communication from EU media strategy.
  • Respect SUBSIDIARITY encouraging media initiatives, and national actions including independent regulators
  • Support QUALITY journalism & scrutiny and challenge myths & populism
  • Develop Media INNOVATION Strategy within horizon 2020

CLD Makes Submission on Encryption and Anonymity in Digital Communication

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, has received a submission from the Centre for Law and Democracy, a non-governmental organisation based in Canada. The Submission was prepared in response to a call for input by the Special Rapporteur, who is drafting a Report on issues of digital communication to be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2015.

The submission clearly outlines the importance of encryption and anonymity tools to online speech and sets out five key Principles which would be the focal points of future discussions on these issues. The principles emphasize the pertinent need for transparency around surveillance measures, robust procedural oversight over intelligence and surveillance authorities, controls on the export of advanced surveillance technology to repressive States and the need for surveillance activities to be limited and targeted and, in particular, to strike an appropriate balance between security needs and the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

The five principles which the submission of CLD outlines include:

  1. States  should  respect  robust  principles  of  transparency  regarding  their  activities in relation  to  anonymity  and  encryption  based  on  the  right  to  information  and  the fact that  secrecy  in  this  area  impacts  on  the  human  rights  to  freedom  of  expression  and privacy.
  2. There  should  be  adequate  oversight  of  digital  surveillance, including  of  the  authorities  that  carry  it out
  3. Actual   surveillance   activities   should   be   limited   and   targeted and  represent   an   appropriate   balance   between   security needs   and   the  rights  to  freedom  of  expression  and  privacy
  4. Structural  measures  which  weaken anonymisation  and encryption   tools  represent serious   restrictions   on   freedom  of expression   and   privacy  and  are  legitimate only  where  justified in  accordance  with  international  standards for limitations on those rights, taking  into  account  the  wider  importance   of  these  tool to the   overall   integrity   of   online  communications and  our shared interest  in  a  secure web.
  5. The  sale  of  intrusive  digital  surveillance  technologies  should be subject  to  a  requirement  to  obtain  an export  licence,  which should  be  denied  where  there  is  a  likelihood  that  the technologies  will  be  used  to  carry  out  human  rights  abuse.

In his comments on the submission, Toby Mendel, the CLD Executive Director said: “We recognise that, in a digital world, digital surveillance is an important tool for law enforcement and intelligence authorities. However, surveillance represents a restriction on freedom of expression and privacy and is therefore legitimate only where it meets strict tests of balance and proportionality.”

The principles explain that to promote free speech and candidness on web, mechanisms have to be put in place to ensure anonymity and encryption which are necessary for the protection of the security of digital communications. However, the three-part test for restrictions found at Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights must be used to assess any restriction on freedom of expression, surveillance policies and practices.

UNESCO, Latvia Government Host 2015 WPFD

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Government of Latvia will co-host the 2015 World Press Freedom Day’s (WPFD) main event and the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony in May.

The WPFD 2015 main celebration in Riga, Latvia from May 2 to 4, 2015 is an official event within the framework of the Latvian Presidency of the EU Council in 2015.

The event will have other side events at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga on May 2, 2015. Main events including the Opening Ceremony, Plenary Sessions, Parallel Roundtable Sessions, and the Award Ceremony of the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Day will take place at the new National Library on May 3 and 4, 2015 while an evening reception will be hosted by the President of Latvia at the National Railway Museum on May 3, 2015

For more information for the different events, kindly click the following links

Freemuse Release 2015 Report on Attack on Artistic Freedom

Freemuse has released its annual report on violations of freedom of expression for musicians globally in 2014.  The 2014 report registered 237 attacks, threats, prosecutions, detentions, imprisonments and censorship against artistic freedom. The statistic includes cases from 32 countries with Russia, China and Turkey at the top of the list. China tops the list of states violating artistic freedom with 38 cases, followed by Russia (22), Turkey (16) and Iran (15).

Three artists were killed in 2014, and more than 80 artists were imprisoned or detained. According to Freemuse, “Artists around the world are increasingly facing attacks on their rights to freedom of expression.” The report was published a few days after the violent attack in Copenhagen on a meeting to discuss limitations for artistic freedom.

“Artists echo and comment social, cultural and political frictions of many societies. Some artists give voice to peoples’ frustrations and aspirations and are therefore targeted or even silenced,” said Ole Reitov, Executive Director, Freemuse. “Governments around the world must guarantee that artists can express themselves without fear of reprisal.”

Freemuse said, “Although the statistics paint a grim picture they cannot fully measure the effects of attacks and threats such as the December 2014 suicide bombing inside a school auditorium in Kabul during the performance of, ‘Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion’ featuring young drama and music students. The statistics only register ‘one attack’, but fails to describe the side-effects of an attack — the numbers of people in the audience, who were injured, ‘simply chocked’ or continue to have symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and the effects of artistic self-censorship that often follows.”

The statistics reflect stories collated and published by Freemuse on artsfreedom.org during the past year and include attacks on authors, musicians, film makers, visual artists, etc. but do not reflect attacks and killings of cartoonists and journalists as these are considered media workers and cases are monitored by other organisations.

Only recorded and verified censorship cases and attacks on specific individuals, events, art venues, shops and artworks are included. Governmental pre-censorship practices, self-censorship by artist based on fear of persecution and general bans of art forms such as music in jihadist controlled areas are prevalent and serious, but cannot be statistically measured and are not reflected in the statistics.

IFJ, UNESCO Develop Safety Curriculum for Media Students in the Middle East

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Beirut Office, are developing a safety curriculum for media students and universities in the Middle East.

A workshop was held in Jordan on January 26, 2015 in cooperation with the Jordanian Media Institute (JMI) and the Jordanian Press Association which included 10 media school lecturers from the region to discuss a draft safety curriculum.

The workshop reviewed a draft safety curriculum and lesson plan in line with IFJ and UNESCO. The curriculum will be developed into a fully accredited academic course to be taught in the universities across the Arab world and the Middle East.

According to Abedlnasser Najjar, IFJ Executive Committee member, media lecturer in Palestinian universities and one of the participants in the workshop, “Providing safety skills and knowledge to media students is crucial to building a culture of safety for media in the region. This is yet another leading initiative taken by the IFJ and partners to strengthen the safety of journalists in one of the most difficult regions in the world. It will increase awareness among younger generations of journalists to the risks associated with reporting in dangerous zones which is crucial to their survival.”

An extensive safety training programme for journalists in the region was launched by the IFJ in 2011. The training programme included a Training of Trainers programme and since then the IFJ and its affiliates have trained up to 1500 journalists in some of the most dangerous countries in the world for them.

“UNESCO is the only UN agency entrusted with supporting Freedom of Expression,” said George Awad, programme officer at UNESCO Beirut office. “Through its communication and information sector, UNESCO initiated a safety of journalists’ action plan that was then adopted by the United Nations system in 2012. Since then, UNESCO has been leading the UN efforts in putting this plan into action, working with member states, media institutions and civil societies on legal, infrastructure and capacity building frameworks”.

“Moreover, as a leader in Education, it was a normal step for UNESCO to work with the academic sector to institutionalize the safety of journalists’ resources and trainings into the curriculum.”

Princess Rym al Ali, the founder of JMI who joined the workshop as a guest speaker stressed the importance of providing training and protection for local journalists and freelancers covering conflicts while sharing her experience in reporting from conflict zones including her work as CNN correspondent in Baghdad in 2001-2004.

Participants include international experts and lecturers from universities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Jordan. The curriculum has been drafted by Clare Arthurs, an Australian-based media trainer, safety expert and media lecturer and reviewed by Magda Abu Fadel, a journalist and media trainer. This programme has been supported by the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO, the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs and the Government of Sweden.

World Forum of Free Media Calls for Activity Proposals

The World Forum of Free Media (WFFM) is calling for interested participants to propose activities for the 4th WFFM coming up on March 22 to 28, 2015. The conference will be held at El Manar University in Tunisia.

The 3rd edition of WFFM had many bloggers, journalists, associations, developers, hackers and academics and independent researchers in attendance. In its previous editions, the WFFM has been able to provide insights on some key issues discussed such as freedom of expression, free access to knowledge, Internet issues, community radio, the re-appropriation of information, and free software.

According to the organizers, “The profusion of initiatives has led to insightful discussions on freedom of expression, free access to knowledge, Internet issues, community radio, the reappropriation of information, free software among other topics addressed. The most recent edition of WFFM was also very rich in exchanges and opportunities to continue the fight for the right to communication and information worldwide.”

To propose an activity, kindly visit the website of the WFFM at http://www.fmml.net/inscription .

CEU Calls for Applications to its Internet Governance School

The Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary, has called for applications to its summer school on Advanced Topics in Internet Governance, Civil Society and Policy Advocacy coming up from June 28 to July 4, 2015 in Hungary.

This intensive summer course is designed to help researchers, activists, policy makers and advocates gain new insights into the complex relationship between technology, free expression, and policy that lie at the heart of debates between global security and human rights. Throughout the course, participants will dig deeper into the role which civil society can play in advocating for a free and open internet, with special attention on the role of social media companies and internet intermediaries. Sessions will highlight the potential of technology and online tools for mobilizing and organizing constituencies in support of freedom of expression, an open internet, and for enhancing the security and privacy of digital communication. This 2015 course will focus on:  Internet law and policy; Freedom of expression and open internet advocacy strategies; Tools for digital security and privacy; Human rights and communication policy.
Past faculty have come from: Witness, Human Rights Watch, OSCE, Privacy International, Center for Democracy and Technology, OSF, Tactical Technology Collective, Global Voices Online, Center for Internet and Society, Hivos, International Center for Policy Advocacy, Internews, Creative Commons, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Transparency International, Open Technology Initiative, Tor Project, Berkman Center.

Application deadline: March 15, 2015 and Financial aid is available.  Kindly visit http://www.summer.ceu.hu/internet-2015 for more information.