Tag: Free Speech

Cambodian Police to Arrest Suspects Accused of Mocking King with Sex Scene

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Cambodian police are on the hunt for three men accused of inserting an image of the country’s king into a gay porn scene, though they have not said what specific law the three violated.

“The king represents the whole nation and they are insulting the king, which is like they are insulting the whole nation,” spokesman for the country’s Ministry of Interior General Khieu Sopheak said as he confirmed an investigation had been launched.

“We have got orders to arrest them,” he said. “If we don’t take action against them, more people might follow their act,” he explained, according to AFP.

Turkey: Journalists, Writers Face Terrorism, Separatism Charges

Trial Begins for Newspaper Advisory Board, Writers, Editors in Istanbul

The prosecution of writers and journalists charged with terrorism and separatism for their association with a newspaper raises serious concerns for freedom of expression in Turkey, Human Rights Watch said today. The first trial hearing begins on December 29, 2016, for four defendants detained since August and five others who are also being tried.

The four jailed defendants are the well-known novelist Aslı Erdoğan, the writer Necmiye Alpay, and newspaper editors İnan Kızılkaya and Zana Kaya. The prosecutor’s indictment accuses the four – and five others who are at liberty – of “spreading propaganda” for and being members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and of attempting to destroy the unity of the state. If convicted of the latter offense, they would face life in prison without parole.

Qatar: Independent News Website Blocked

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Further Undermines Media Freedom

Qatari authorities have blocked Doha News, the country’s only independent news website, in a move that undermines Qatar’s attempts to present itself as a center for media freedom in the Gulf region, Human Rights Watch said today. Doha News has been publishing news about Qatar online for six years, but on November 30, 2016, authorities there ordered Qatar’s two internet service providers, Vodafone and Ooredoo, to block the site, making it inaccessible to internet users in Qatar.

A Doha News spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that Qatari authorities said that the site’s reporting had upset “several” unnamed government ministries and cited concerns over its failure to formally register in Qatar. Doha News is registered and hosted in the United States, but its journalists live and work in Qatar. In October, Doha News published an editorial calling on the authorities to amend provisions of the 2014 cybercrime law to “preserve free speech and protect journalism in the country.”

Censorship: Tech Firms Should Abandon the EU to Its Madness

The European Union has a censorship addiction, and a desire to inflict the costs of indulging that addiction on the world’s top tech companies.

Vera Jourova, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, complains that Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft respond too slowly to demands that they delete posts deemed “hate speech” from their platforms.

In May, those companies “voluntarily” affirmed a code of conduct committing themselves to 24-hour turnaround on doing Jourova’s dirty work for her. Six months later, she claims the companies are too slow and that the EU may be “forced” to enact laws to punish them for not shutting people up as quickly as she wants them shut up.

Bahrain: Human Rights Lawyer Charged

Accused Authorities of Online Surveillance

Bahraini authorities have charged a prominent human rights lawyer with offenses that violate his right to free expression.

Mohamed al-Tajer, who has defended opposition figures and rights activists, told Human Rights Watch that a public prosecutor brought three charges against him on November 10, 2016: insulting government institutions, inciting hatred of a religious sect, and misusing a telecommunications appliance. In a private WhatsApp voice message that public prosecutors cited in support of the charges, al-Tajer says, “It’s clear that there’s a team in the public prosecution and Cybercrimes division whose only job is to sit at computers and intercept every word about Sunnis, Saudi Arabia, hatred of the regime, or insults against the king.”

“Bahraini authorities have targeted journalists, activists, clerics, and politicians for peaceful dissent in the last few months, so it was only a matter of time before they came for the lawyers,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Al-Tajer is facing charges because he stated the obvious: Bahraini authorities are snooping on their citizens and anyone who steps out of line online faces jail time.”

Vietnam: Free Imprisoned Bloggers

Vietnamese authorities should quash the politically motivated convictions of two bloggers and release them from prison, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 22, 2016, the Higher People’s Court of Hanoi will hear the appeal of prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and his colleague Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy who ran a website critical of the Vietnamese government.

Police arrested Nguyen Huu Vinh, also known as Ba Sam, and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy in May 2014 and charged them under article 258 of Vietnam’s penal code for “abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interest of the state.”

Justice as Usual, or Attack on Free Speech? Debunking Singapore’s Contempt-of-Court Bill

Have you ever tweeted about a court case while it was still in progress? Or written a story arguing for a person’s innocence while they were still on trial?

Under a new bill in Singapore, these activities could get you in trouble with the law.

The Singapore Parliament is now deliberating the proposed Administration of Justice (Protection) bill which aims to clarify the meaning of “contempt of court”. The bill defines this as an umbrella term, covering prejudicing court matters, disobeying court orders, and scandalizing the courts. It also provides penalties appropriate for these actions.

In Asia, freedom of speech is critical in the fight for human rights

Protecting freedom of speech, assembly and association in Asia is the lynchpin to protecting all human rights. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on closing space for civil society.

Reflecting on the human rights situation in Asia has become a dismal exercise. While it is difficult to give exact numbers—since many cases go unreported—based on our meetings and interviews with human rights workers on the ground, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings seem to be on the rise. In addition, modern day slavery, inhumane treatment of refugees and the return of authoritarian and repressive regimes are common across the region. In that context, being allowed to say what you please and having the right to come together with others might not seem to be crucial priorities. But without freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, activists will never win the struggle for human rights.

Meet the people responsible for the next attack on police officers

All over the country, departments are on high alert. They know the next attack on police officers is right around the corner. They’ve changed security procedures, they’ve advised their loved ones of the risk, and they’re on the lookout for any information or tips about who will be behind the next attack on cops. In the interest of public safety, The Fifth Column is publishing the names of some of those who will be responsible for the next attack.

These are the names of those who are creating violent attitudes in the populace and whose actions are likely to lead to the next attack, even though they won’t pull the trigger, drop the brick, or plant the bomb themselves. Their names are:

India: Stop Treating Critics As Criminals

The Indian authorities routinely use vaguely worded, overly broad laws as political tools to silence and harass critics, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The government should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression.

India’s Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech and expression, but recent and colonial-era laws, such as sedition and criminal defamation, not only remain on the books but are frequently used in an attempt to clampdown on critics.

“India’s abusive laws are the hallmark of a repressive society, not a vibrant democracy,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting critics in prison or even forcing them to defend themselves in lengthy and expensive court proceedings undermines the government’s efforts to present India as a modern country in the Internet age committed to free speech and the rule of law.”

Net Neutrality is Good For Developing Countries

Los Angeles, CA (TFC) – Last year, the Federal Communications Commission finally reaffirmed their commitment to net neutrality after a lengthy and high profile debate that started in 2014.  This debate attracted much public interest with consumer advocacy groups, corporations,…