Browse > Home /

Index: Hungary faces squeeze on freedoms

Copyright: Zselosz in Flickr. Some rights reserved

Sándor Orbán, the director of the South East European Network for Professionalisation of Media, reports for Index on Censorship on the raft of new laws passed by the ruling Fidesz party and the threat to democracy and media freedom.

The new constitution put an end to liberal democracy in Hungary. It was pushed through the parliament without any public discussion by a populist prime minister, who used his party’s super-majority to rush the legislation, passed in only few weeks last spring.

Hundreds of controversial new laws — including the ones on media — have been passed since the Hungarian Civic Union, Fidesz, came to power in 2010. Their election has led to the elimination of many of the checks and balances in the democratic system.

See the full post on Index at this link.

See Journalism.co.uk’s full coverage of Hungary’s controversial media law reform at this link.

Tags: , ,

Similar posts:

Two-year anniversary of massacre of 30 journalists in Philippines

November 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Press freedom and ethics

Two years ago today 30 journalists and two support workers were killed in the Philippines in the “Maguindanao Massacre”, and what Index on Censorship has described as the “single deadliest event for the media”.

Today, 23 November, also marked the inaugural International Day to End Impunity; last year a Global Day of Action was held to mark the first anniversary of the massacre.

Index on Censorship, Article 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists and English PEN have joined forces with several freedom of expression pressure groups around the world to call for demanding justice for journalists’ murdered in the line of duty.

In a post, Index on Censorship said:

In the past 10 years, more than 500 journalists have been killed. In nine out of 10 cases, the murderers have gone free. Many others targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression — artists, writers, musicians, activists — join their ranks.

On this day two years ago the single deadliest event for the media took place when 30 journalists and two support workers were brutally killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province, The Philippines. The journalists were part of a convoy accompanying supporters of a local politician filing candidacy papers for provincial governor. In total the “Maguindanao Massacre” as it has come to be known, claimed 58 victims. Not one of more than a hundred individuals suspected of involvement in the atrocity has been convicted yet.

We join those in the Philippines not only in honouring their slain colleagues, friends and family members, but demanding justice for them and hundreds more in Russia, Belarus, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Colombia, Iraq and Somalia and other countries where killings of journalists and free expression activists have repeatedly gone unpunished. Above all we demand an end to the cycle violence and impunity.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

Index: Take action to end impunity

November 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Politics, Press freedom and ethics

This coming 23 November will be the second anniversary of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre in the Phillippines, in which 34 journalists were murdered during election related violence in the country.

Last year, on the first anniversary, there was a “global day of action” to commemorate the killings.

This year, the second anniversary will also be the inaugural Day to End Impunity, organised by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

Index on Censorship is marking the event by revealing on each of the 23 days of November leading up to it the story of a journalist, writer or free expression advocate who was killed in the line of duty and whose case remains unsolved.

Read the first nine:

1 November: Mohammad Ismail
2 November: José Bladimir Antuna Garcían
3 November: Abdul Razzak Johra
4 November: Laurent Bisset
5 November: Carlos Alberto Guajardo Romero
6 November: Wadallah Sarhan
7 November: Ahmed Hussein al-Maliki
8 November: Francisco Castro Menco
9 November: Dilip Mohapatra

Visit Index’s Take Action to End Impunity site at this link.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Brian Cathcart: Ten things I’ve learned about injunctions

June 6th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

I think (although this post may lead to me being quickly proved wrong) that I have been pretty careful and accurate in my reporting of various different injunction stories of late. This is largely thanks to my former colleague and media law blogger Judith Townend, whose exasperation with the media bandying around the term “superinjunction” I have seen first hand.

Not everybody has been cautious, and the term superinjunction seems to have been applied left, right and centre to celebrity injunctions. The fact that Ryan Giggs never obtained a superinjunction, and that there have only been two new superinjunctions in the past year — one lasting seven days and the other overturned on appeal – are two of ten lessons taken away from the whole affair by Kingston University journalism lecturer Brian Cathcart, who writes today on Index on Censorship.

The other eight include these gems:

There appear to be 75,000 British Twitter users who are ready, with the right tabloid encouragement, to participate in the “naming and shaming” (or pillorying) of adulterers.

When it suits them, the tabloids also blithely set aside their usual view that online social networking is an evil invention that causes crime, suicide, binge drinking, obesity, terrorism and cancer.

See his full list on Index on Censorship at this link.

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

Index: Due process, prejudice and the press in case of Chris Jefferies

The UK media has come in for a fair amount of criticism over the past few days for its coverage of Chris Jefferies, who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Joanna Yeates but later released without charge.

In a post for Index on Censorship, published yesterday, Kingston University journalism professor Brian Cathcart analyses the deficiencies of England’s contempt of court laws that allow news organisations to go unpunished for what he calls the “monstering” of suspects.

Sometimes, as in the case of Jefferies, the attorney general publicly draws editors’ attention to the Contempt of Court Act of 1981, but it never makes any difference. They know and he knows that that law, supposedly intended to protect juries from improper influence, contains a loophole big enough to render it meaningless.

To convict a paper of contempt in such a case the Crown would have to prove there had been a “substantial” risk of “serious” prejudice. This, successive attorneys general have decided, is both unmeasurable and unprovable, which means it is also unenforceable. It follows that reporting of suspects around the time of arrest is unfettered.

Full post on Index on Censorship at this link.

Related content elsewhere

David Banksy: Molecular chemistry, contempt of court and the reporting of the Joanna Yeates case

Inforrm blog: Media responsibility and Chris Jefferies

Timothy J. Moore: The lost honour of Chris Jefferies

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Jack of Kent: Bercow makes a stand for libel reform

October 4th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

At the end of last week, news broke that think-tank MigrationWatch had threatened political commentator Sally Bercow with libel action following comments she made on Sky News in August about a Daily Express story on migration.

Her comments reportedly included reference to what she perceived as the oversimplification of arguments made in the article, which included statistics from MigrationWatch, adding that the story was “fairly dangerous propaganda”, based on case documents posted by author Richard Wilson on his blog.

According to a release from the Libel Reform Campaign, Bercow, who is the wife of House of Commons speaker John Bercow, received a letter from MigrationWatch’s chairman Sir Andrew Green’s solicitors demanding an apology and legal costs as a result of her comments.

Yesterday lawyer David Allen Green announced on his ‘Jack of Kent’ blog that he had been instructed to act in Bercow’s defence to any libel action. Discussing the context of the case he said the current state of free expression is “depressing”.

But our ‘banning’ culture in respect of free expression is not inevitable and can be reversed; there is no good reason why the first reaction of so many people to unwelcome statements is to get the law involved, and then there is no good reason for so many police officers, judges, and officials to allow them to do so.

(…) Sally Bercow could have just quietly apologised, perhaps with the pre-prepared humble apology which was attached to the threatening letter. But she chose not to do so. She has chosen instead to make a stand for her right as a political commentator to respond to news stories in the way she did. She wants to show how threats like this to political commentators – and also journalists – support the need for libel reform.

The case has also been highlighted by the Libel Reform Campaign as what they claim is “proof” of the need for defamation law reform. A new defamation bill is already expected to be drafted in 2011 by the government. Jo Glanville, editor of the Index on Censorship added:

MigrationWatch should not be using our libel laws to silence criticism of their approach over immigration. Sally Bercow now faces the same ordeal as Simon Singh with potentially bankrupting costs, years of her life wasted in Court, all for expressing an opinion. It really presses home just how important the coalition’s pledge of a libel reform bill is.

MigrationWatch had no further comment to make at this time.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Facebook and Google to be quizzed on whether the internet is safe for free speech

Index on Censorship is to host a debate on the internet and free speech at the Free Word Centre in London, tonight [12 May] at 6.30 pm.

It will feature:

  • Richard Allan, director of policy EU, Facebook
  • Anthony House, European policy and communications manager, Google
  • Gus Hosein, policy director, Privacy International

If like Journalism.co.uk, you’ve been increasingly alarmed by social network tactics that threaten journalists’ safety and confidentiality, you might like to submit a question to be asked at the event, at this link: ‘Put your questions to Facebook and Google – We ask is the internet safe for free speech?’

Background:

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

The Simon Singh appeal judgement in full

April 1st, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Legal

As reported on our main site, Simon Singh has successfully appealed the initial ruling on meaning of his Guardian article about the British Chiropractic Association, in the Royal Courts of Justice today. The new ruling determines that Singh can defend his writing as “fair comment” – rather than having to justify it as fact.

Via Index on Censorship, we’ve got the judgement in full (albeit a little wonky). We’ve embedded it on Scribd – see below:

Singh Judgement 1 April 2010 – Court of Appeal

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

Journalism.co.uk backs Libel Reform Campaign

April 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in About us, Legal

Journalism.co.uk has pledged its support to the Libel Reform Campaign, run by Index on Censorship, Sense About Science and English PEN to overhaul current legislation, bringing in a new bill that caps libel case fees for lawyers and addresses the impact of online publishing on libel.

Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.

Our pledge:

As a small, online publisher, we are acutely aware of the ‘chilling effect’ that current libel legislation and the excessive cost of libel trials in the UK can have on freedom of expression and journalism. We support the Libel Reform Campaign and the changes it proposes, which advocate journalists’ right to criticise and question those in power and positions of influence.

The petition can be signed at this link.

Some of the listed supporters:

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Shadow justice minister says libel reform issue would be a ‘priority’ for a Tory government

March 24th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal, Online Journalism

The Libel Reform campaign, a coalition of Sense About Science, Index on Censorship and English PEN, yesterday said it had one major political party left to get on side: the Conservatives.

But following justice minister Jack Straw’s pledge of Labour support in parliament yesterday, Henry Bellingham, the Conservative shadow justice minister, said that if his party formed the next government they would give the issue priority – with a draft Bill by the end of 2010, according to the latest email update from the campaign.

“He indicated that the Law Commission would be asked to report urgently on necessary. The commitment to legislation from Bellingham is a major milestone,” the campaign’s organisers reported today.

Left: Jack Straw speaking to campaigners in Parliament yesterday (English PEN on Flickr).

Disclaimer: Journalism.co.uk has pledged its support to the Libel Reform campaign.

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement