Monthly Archives: July 2013

UN Security Council now discussing protection of journalist

The UN Security Council has a good group of journalists assembled to discuss safety of journalists around the world.

The discussion comes from a concept paper issued by the US Mission to the United Nations:

“Given the critical role of journalism in informing the international community’s understanding of conflict, we seek to underscore the vital importance of protecting journalists in these situations. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is a human right guaranteed to all, including journalists, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; journalists are also entitled to the same rights online that they have offline.”

Discussion now going on at the UN Live Page.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Press Freedom

Really Mr. Snowden, Venezuela?

It seems odd that the only places that are being so vocal about supporting NSA data thief Edward Snowden and offering him sanctuary are countries with some of the worst records on freedom of speech/expression and press.

Thanks to Boing Boing, we get to hear a first-person account of what it is like living in Venezuela.

Snowden and Venezuela: My bizarre experience in the surveillance state


  • On Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 a private phone call between my mother and me was broadcast on two talk shows on the Venezuelan government TV station.
  • We can be heard talking about the international anti-Chavez demonstrations, and how we thought they hadn’t been successful. I compared them to the much larger ones for democracy in Iran that I attended in DC.
  • My mother, Maruja Tarre, was an outspoken critic of the Chavez government and she is often on television commenting on Venezuelan foreign policy. She is a columnist for the country’s oldest newspaper, El Universal, and is followed by thousands on Twitter.
  • Our private conversation aired again on the late night show, La Hojilla, hosted by Mario Silva. He plays clips from news shows edited to ridicule opposition politicians. The government has used “evidence” gathered by reporters on this show to accuse opposition leaders.
  • This was an eye-opening incident. Like most Venezuelans, I have long been aware, on an intellectual level, that many calls are recorded and that my mother’s landline was most likely tapped.
  • That was four years ago. Since then, the Venezuelan government has grown even more aggressive in its use of private conversations to intimidate opposition activists, and even their own supporters.


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Filed under Censorship, Freedom of access, Freedom of Information, International News Coverage, South America

Brazil leads the world in Google censor requests

Follow the link to a great visual that shows what countries asked Google to remove material and why.

As noted in the headline, Brazil is #1. The USA is #2.

The main reason for the requests seems to be for defamation. In Brazil, the second reason is related to the electoral law.

You can click on country names in this excellent graphic to get details about the requests.

What does the world ask Google to censor?

You may note that China is not on that list. Betcha the Great Chinese Firewall takes care of any “problems” before they can be posted online.

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Filed under Censorship, Freedom of access, Freedom of Information

Pressure steps up for FOI laws in Hong Kong

It’s nice to see that the journalists in Hong Kong are once again calling for a freedom of information law.

I recall back around 2000 we were having this discussion.

And now it’s back.

Hong Kong Journalists Seeks Information Law Amid Free Press Woes

Hong Kong journalists called on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to enact a freedom of information law and reverse trends that include greater reliance on written statements and attacks on reporters.

The Chinese city should pass a freedom of information law that allows “maximum disclosure” of government data and documents, the Hong Kong Journalists Association said in an annual report. Hong Kong currently relies on a non-legally binding code to allow access to government information, it said.

Press freedom in the former British colony has seen a “noticeable deterioration” since the 1997 handover, with Leung’s government increasing secrecy, the report said. China guaranteed press freedom and other civil rights in Hong Kong, and isn’t subject to state censorship practiced in the mainland.

“On the general press freedom front, the Leung administration’s policies have been far from satisfactory,” the report said. “Mr. Leung and his ministers have relied increasingly on press statements — instead of full press conferences — to get their message across, which denies journalists the opportunity to ask questions.”

Read rest of article.

One of the things so many Western reporters — hell, non-Hong Kongers in general — forget is that under the terms of the 1997 handover treaty between China and Great Britain, Hong Kong is enjoys political autonomy from Beijing for 50 years. That means the territory has all the civic and human rights enjoyed by citizens of democracies.

Yep, Hong Kong is ruled by China but it is governed by its own leadership and by rule of law.

It would be great to see Hong Kong join the rest of the world by enacting a FOI law soon.

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Filed under Freedom of Information

TI Annual Report Coming Out Soon


Berlin –Transparency International, the anti-corruption group, will release its 8th Global Corruption Barometer on 9 July 2013. This year’s survey is the biggest ever, covering 114,000 people in 107 countries.

The Global Corruption Barometer surveys opinions on whether corruption has increased and which institutions are considered most corrupt. It also asks if people have paid a bribe in the past 12 months and to whom.

Calculate the time the release will occur in your area. Click HERE


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Filed under Connections, Corruption