Handbook on laws protecting free expression launched

The new defence handbook for journalists and bloggers (Screengra

The new Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reporters Without Borders and law firm Paul Hastings

A new handbook aims to provide journalists and bloggers worldwide with guidance on the international legal framework protecting their rights to freedom of expression.

Produced by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, and law firm Paul Hastings, the Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers focuses on how international legal principles apply to journalists’ work. It also includes previous decisions and recommendations made by international and regional bodies and courts on aspects of freedom of speech.

“Journalists around the world are more and more under threat and often become targets,” said Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Terrorist groups, but also powerful lobbies and a number of governments are increasingly trying to censor the media, preventing opinion sharing and the release of vital information to the public. Now more than ever, journalists need to be brave, avoid self-censorship, and be aware that they can seek refuge in international law. This guide is a very powerful weapon.”

Index CEO spoke at the launch of the handbook (Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Index CEO spoke at the launch of the handbook (Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg spoke at the launch of the handbook, outlining the threats that Index has identified in its work mapping media freedom in the European Union and neighbouring countries. Since Index launched the project in mid-2014 more than 800 incidents have been reported to the map. Ginsberg described a climate of fear in which governments crack down increasingly on the media and free expression more generally, and cited a lack of awareness among some media professionals about the laws that protect them. “Uncertainty — when journalists don’t know their rights — leads to self-censorship,” she said.

Other speakers at the event in London included Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders; John Lloyd, senior research fellow at the Reuters Institute; Sylvie Kaufmann, editorial director and columnist at Le Monde; lawyer William Bourdon; and journalist Owen Bennett-Jones.

This article was posted on 3 July 2015 at indexoncensorship.org

29 June: Legal protections for journalists worldwide? (Partner event)

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Photo: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Six months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, journalists face more threats than ever before, from harassment to imprisonment to murder – since the beginning of the year, 50 journalists have been killed.

While some countries, like Norway, have scrapped blasphemy laws to strongly assert freedom of speech, others such as the UK are increasing state surveillance and censorship to “protect citizens from violence”. How can international law protect journalists in this challenging and unique context? Is it possible to strike a balance between security concerns and freedom of expression? Is the right to free speech an absolute one?

Join the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Reporters Without Borders and Paul Hastings LLP for a panel debate featuring:

  • John Lloyd,  Reuters Institute and Financial Times
  • Prof Timothy Garton Ash, Oxford University
  • Sylvie Kauffmann, Le Monde
  • William Bourdon, Paris Bar and Association Sherpa
  • Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship

When: Monday 29 June, 6:00pm (followed by drinks reception & canapés)
Where: Edelman, London, SW1E 6QT (Map/directions)
Tickets: Free, book here




Iran court finds Reuters bureau chief guilty of “spreading lies”

An Iranian court on Sunday convicted the Tehran bureau chief of the Thomson Reuters news agency of “propaganda-related offences” for a video that briefly described a group of women involved in martial arts training as killers. Parisa Hafezi was found guilty of “spreading lies” against the Islamic system for the February video, which initially carried a headline saying that the women were training as ninja “assassins.” A sentence by the court is expected within a week.