Stories from Quick Reads and Freedom of Speech
Court Fines the Taiwan Immigration Authority for the Denied Entry of a Foreign Visitor Ahead Anti-nuclear Protest
Two years ago in March 2013, Daniel Andres Helmdach was detained and deported from Taiwan because the immigration suspected that he visited the country to join the anti-nuclear protest. The German youth had done nothing illegal in Taiwan before, he merely worked as a volunteer on conversation projects back in 2011. He sued the immigration office for the unreasonable treatment and finally the Taipei District Court ruled on July 30, 2015 that the immigration authority should pay a compensation of NT$125000 (US$4200) to Daniel for his plane ticket and as consolation payment.
Daniel's case has been considered a typical example of the Taiwanese authorities abusive use of power in clamping down dissent activities. Two Japanese people from Fukushima were warned by the country's immigration office immediately after they gave a speech at an anti-nuclear demonstration on April 30, 2011 in Taiwan.
The ISIS cyber army has allegedly hacked the website of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog on July 8, 2015, and threatened its Syrian director, Rami Abdelrahman, for his role in documenting human rights abuses committed by all parties in the ongoing war in Syria.
The news was confirmed by Reuters. SITE Intel Group also reported the hack on the UK-based site:
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) July 8, 2015
The cyber attack was made by the group, affiliated with ISIS, which calls itself the Cyber Army of the Khilafah, or the self-proclaimed Caliphate, which covers large swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq.
Below is a screenshot of the site, which is now down.
The free speech advocate iLaw uploaded an infographic which showed that 166 people have been arrested in the past year in Thailand for expressing an opinion against the military-backed government.
The army grabbed power in May 2014 but it vowed to restore civilian rule and conduct free elections next year. Protests and public gathering of five or more people are currently prohibited in Thailand.
The infographic also revealed that there are 68 political prisoners in the country.
Meanwhile, another infographic by iLaw showed that lese majeste (anti-royal insult law) cases have risen in the past year. Some scholars are petitioning the review of the law which they described as harsh and repressive.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights has launched a portal documenting the human rights violations experienced by Cambodian journalists. Cambodia's constitution guarantees freedom of speech but journalists are still harassed and killed, especially those who report about the abuses committed by local officials and business interests with ties to powerful leaders.
The International Media Support (IMS) wants to know what freedom of expression means to you, in the run-up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
IMS is encouraging bloggers, human rights defenders, and journalists on social media to participate in this campaign, by tweeting their response or posting it on Facebook with the hashtaq #MyFreeExpression. The response can be text, video or picture.
IMS is a non-profit media development organisation that works in 30 countries where the press and freedom of expression exists under trying contexts. With this campaign they want “to showcase the many faces of and opinions on freedom of expression around the world.”
Danish Filmmaker Nagieb Khaja participated in the campaign with a video, where he said, “Freedom of expression means being able to say what you truly believe without fearing any reprisals. ” And a participant from the Magamba Network, an organization that supports culture, new media and activism in Zimbabwe said, “Freedom is living without fear of no one and nothing.”
IMS is based in Copenhagen, Denmark and is primarily funded by the foreign ministries of the Scandinavian countries.
Serbian Authorities Take Control of A Man's Facebook Account Following Alleged Threats Against PM Vucic
In Serbia, the detainment of individuals for personal social media postings has become almost commonplace over the last year. During the mass floods in May 2014, police arrested over a dozen individuals for allegedly “inciting panic” on social media when the country was indeed in a national state of emergency. Some were detained for several days.
In early July 2015, in the Serbian town of Aleksinac, police detained Dejan Milojevic for allegedly threatening the life of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on his personal Facebook account. They seized his computer and other communications devices, and also took charge of his Facebook account, changing his password and locking Milivojevic out of his own account.
Serbian NGO Share Defense called the account takeover a “very intrusive measure under questionable legal basis, in particular from the aspect of international protection of privacy and freedom of expression standards.” The Share Defense team of legal experts explained the legal issues in this matter on their website:
Ovakav opis postupanja policije izdvaja aleksinački slučaj od sličnih istraga pokrenutih zbog komentara na društvenim mrežama, i otvara problem nejasnih ovlašćenja policije u digitalnom okruženju. Naime, pristup policije privatnom fejsbuk profilu nedvosmisleno predstavlja povredu tajnosti sredstava komuniciranja koja je zagarantovana članom 41 Ustava Republike Srbije. Odstupanja su moguća isključivo uz odluku suda koja bi se konkretno odnosila na sporni fejsbuk profil, o čemu za sada nema pouzdanih informacija. Dejanu Milojeviću je onemogućen pristup privatnom fejsbuk nalogu, čime mu je ograničena sloboda izražavanja i informisanja.
Policija je prilikom pretresa oduzela Milojevićev kompjuter i telefone (u skladu sa članom 147 Zakonika o krivičnom postupku), na šta ima pravo i bez posebne sudske odluke. Međutim, pretraživanje podataka o komunikaciji koji se čuvaju na tim uređajima nije moguće bez sudskog naloga.
This description of the actions of police separates the Aleksinac case from similar investigations started due to comments on social networks and opens the issue of unclear rights that police have in the digital realm. Specifically, police access to a private Facebook profile undoubtedly represents an injury to the privacy of communication, which is guaranteed under Section 41 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. An exception to this can only be awarded by a court, that would have to reference the Facebook profile in question…Dejan Milivojevic's access to his private Facebook account has been breached, thus his freedom of expression and right to access to information has been limited.
Police seized Milivojevic's computer and telephones during the raid (in accordance with Article 147 of the Law on Criminal Proceedings), which they are authorized to do without exceptional court order. However, search and seizure of communication information that are stored on those devices* is not allowed without a court order. [*editor's emphasis]
While Milivojevic no longer has access to his Facebook account, the status update that had police raiding his home and led to accusations that he was threatening the Prime Minister is still publicly visible on his profile:
Браћо и сестре, враг је однео шалу!!! Дајте да се организујемо да неко убије говнара и да ослободимо земљу. Доста је било, стварно!!!
Brothers and sisters, the joke has gone too far!!! Let's organize and have someone kill the shithead and liberate the country. Enough is enough, really!!!
The Prime Minister's name was not mentioned in the status update or in the comments of the post, although one commenter does ask whom Milivojevic is referencing as “the shithead”. Milivojevic also calls for a “lynching” in his responses to comments, but then later adds in a comment that “of course, I was kidding about the killing; I abhore violence, even towards such a worm and bum.”
Shitemi Khamadi argues that a case where a telecommunication provider, Safaricom, has sued a Kenyan blogger Cyprian Nyakundi for defamation highlights the need for education on the law and Internet in Kenya:
The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) in whose mandate is to promote online local content has been running a project called ifreedoms. The project seeks to enlighten Kenyans of all walks of life about the law and the internet in Kenya. It conducts these training’s in various locations around the country. So far, these training’s have been held in Nairobi, Kisumu and Nyeri. It intends, in the long run, to go nationwide.
It is in the interest of BAKE that Kenyans know how they should conduct themselves online so that they responsibly, accurately and consistently tell their own stories online through blogs and social media platforms. Certainly when a blogger has a legal issue, BAKE may intervene when the cause is genuine and especially when it involves its members. It does these by assisting with legal counsel, popularizing the issue on social media and documenting it.
This Nyakundi court case validates what BAKE is doing. Nyakundi is still innocent until proven guilty. However, if he knew his legal rights and obligations, he probably would not be in the situation he is today. More importantly, more Kenyans should take queue from this to learn how they should conduct themselves online.
20,000 Nigeriens took to the streets in Niamey, Niger on June, 6. There are multiple causes for the protests: endemic poverty, mediocre governance and restricted free speech are among the main grievances from Nigerien civil society. These protests come on the hill of similar uprisings in Burkina Faso, Burundi and Togo. The government resigned in Burkina Faso while elections are postponed in Burundi. In May, citizens in Lome protested presidential election results that saw Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe won a third term.
The proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill in Pakistan has raised concern among local and international human rights organisations as it could put at risk freedom expression and privacy in Pakistan.
Mariam at Catalyst Woman blog reports:
After the dedicated efforts of numerous advocacy groups, ngos and private citizens, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has agreed to a public hearing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill 2015 this Friday, 22 May in Islamabad.
Invitations to the “public” hearing have only been extended to six people to appear before a committee of 20 members. According to the Joint Action Committee on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PECB) & Alliance For Access:
This is contrary to the spirit of a “public hearing.”
The Joint Action Committee members are definitely among the stakeholders, but we are not the only ones. Instead of hand-picking selected invitees, we call upon the NA Standing Committee on IT to conduct the public hearing in a proper manner, by opening it to all concerned members of the public and invite the entire print and electronic media too, in the spirit of transparency and openness.
The Catalyst woman blog proposed a #Tweetstorm to raise awareness of the public’s concerns about the Cyber Crime Bill in its current state. “There should be a public debate on all aspects of the bill,” the blog says.
This text is part of the 46th #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayBlogsOnGlobalVoices) on March 23, 2015.
On #LunesDeBlogsGV (#MondayOfBlogsOnGlobalVoices), we work to preserve blogs as an “endangered species”, confronting the challenges that threaten their existence in today's digital jungle. In a similar effort, the blogger Iván Lasso compiles stories about the future of blogging and the problems bloggers face today, when their content runs the risk of being lost in the abundance of different types and quality levels of information on the Internet. The situation bloggers increasingly find online, Lasso argues, is approaching a “David and Goliath” situation.
Lasso says of the biggest issues for bloggers today:
A raíz de la popularización de la web, de unos años para acá hay mucha más audiencia potencial disponible. Pero sospecho que gran parte de esa audiencia nunca podría ser tuya (tuya, mía… de blogs pequeños, vamos). Es audiencia que acude a la red en busca de simple entretenimiento y que si quiere información más “dura”, acude a los medios tradicionales que ahora ya están en la web.
In recent years, following the popularity of the Web, there is a much larger audience available. But I suspect that much of this audience will never be yours. Its's an audience that comes to the Net looking for simple entertainment and when they want more “hard” information, they go to the traditional mainstream media which is also on the Web.
Lasso also offers some solutions for the challenges bloggers face:
Hoy día, para que un blog independiente alcance un cierto grado de éxito (reconocimiento, reputación y visitas) debe convertirse en un rayo láser que apunte a aquello en lo que quiere destacar:
¿Quieres dar noticias? Tienes que darlas lo antes posible, más rápido que nadie.
¿Quieres hacer análisis u opinión? Tienes que profundizar más que nadie.
¿Quieres ser didáctico? Tienes que explicar mejor que nadie. Y también con más detalle que nadie.
Nowadays, for an independent blog to have a certain degree of success (recognition, reputation, and views), you must become a laser beam focused on what readers want:
- You want to report news? You must give it them as soon as possible, faster than anyone.
- You want to offer analysis and points of view? You must go deeper than anyone.
- You want to be instructional? You have to explain things better than anyone. And be more specific than anyone.