Index Index – International free speech roundup 21/01/13

Two journalists have been killed in Syria while reporting on the front line. French journalist Yves Debay was shot twice while covering the conflict between the Syrian regime’s army and rebel forces on 17 January, reportedly killed by a regime sniper. Al Jazeera correspondent Mohamed Al-Massalma was shot with three bullets the following day during fights in the town of Busra Al-Harir in the southern province of Deraa. The Syrian journalist for Al Jazeera, who used the pseudonym Mohamed Al-Horani, was an activist in the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad before he joined the news network. More than 60,000 people have died since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

Eva Rinaldi - Flickr

Lupe Fiasco – ejected at Obama’s reelection event

On 17 January, a Cameroonian man who text his friend saying “I’m very much in love with you” had a three year jail sentence upheld. Jean-Claude Roger Mbédé had already served a year and a half in prison for homosexual conduct when he was released on bail for medical reasons in July 2012 — he was malnourished and injured after being assaulted. Cameroon is considered the worst place in Africa for persecution of homosexuals. Last year, 14 people were arrested for homosexuality, 12 of whom were prosecuted.

On 19 January, a journalist in Somalia was killed whilst walking to work. Abdihared Osman Aden, a veteran producer for Shabelle Media Network was shot by unidentified assailants, becoming the fifth Shabelle worker to be murdered in 13 months. Twelve journalists were killed in Somalia in 2012, the highest rate of murders in Africa that year. All the deaths from last year remain unsolved, accoring to Committee to Protect Journalists’ research. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud had vowed to establish a task force to investigate the deaths of media workers in November, but has failed to take action so far, according to local journalists.

Google will decline personal information requests from authoritarian governments in Africa, it announced on 17 January. In a press conference in Nairobi, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google are careful where they place servers and staff, as refusing frequent information requests from the government could lead to arrests and harassment.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco was removed from the stage during an event to celebrate Barack Obama’s inauguration. Headlining the StartUp RockOn concert, Fiasco took to the stage at The Hamilton in Washington, saying that he didn’t vote for Obama during a 30-minute anti-war performance. The performance ended with security eventually moving him along for the next performer, after the rapper refused to leave the stage. Co-founders of the festival Hypervocal later released a statement putting the removal of the star down to a “bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance”, as opposed to his opinions. Lupe Fiasco has previously voiced opposition to the Obama administration, when discussing the President ordering drone attacks.

Berlin internet freedom and human rights conference

There have been a number of internet freedom conferences this year as the debate intensifies over the role and responsibilities of governments, corporations and individuals online. The Arab Spring has spurred some governments to tighten their grip on the internet, whilst for others it has acted as a wake up call on the power of the internet to promote democracy and change. The German government’s conference in Berlin aimed to highlight the interplay between internet freedom and human rights in the run up to the ITU World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).