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Freedom of Expression
Home > Activities > Statement from Tunis for freedom of expression

Statement from Tunis for freedom of expression

Saturday 31 May 2014, by Un Ponte Per...

Human rights defenders, journalists and media activists from Tunisia, Iraq (including the Kurdistan region), Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Italy, France and Brazil gathered in Tunis from 28 to 30 May 2014 for a conference entitled: “Promoting and defending freedom of expression”. The conference denounced repression, arrests and unfair trials of all journalists and human rights defenders.

Participants call the States to:

- Ensure that laws (local, federal, regional, constitutional) are in place to protect freedom of expression and the press, and that these laws respect all existing international standards, and guarantee the rights of citizens and journalists.

- Recognize the diversity of the media, including the diversity of ownership of the media: public, private, community and others. In particular, States should recognize and support sources of alternative media.

- Guarantee a media sector for the entire society, which creates a free, open and inclusive media space for public debate and discussion.

- Respect their international obligation to protect journalists and media activists.

- End impunity and bring to justice all perpetrators who have been found to violate the rights of the journalists, media activists and human rights defenders.

- Respect international humanitarian law and relevant human rights law regarding the protection of civilians, journalists and human rights defenders, in particular in states where armed conflicts are ongoing.

- Respect the principle of non-discrimination: promote the equal role of men and women in society, and combat sexual harassment and discrimination against women journalists and women working in the media.

Participants call citizens, associations, NGOs and networks to action:

- To exchange experiences and good practices regarding the writing, approving and implementing of national laws which protect the freedom of expression and the press, and which are consistent with international standards.

- To exchange experiences, good practices and innovative solutions regarding public regulation of the ownership and operation of the media; and to support the declaration of internet freedom (www.internetdeclaration.org)

Participants have highlighted the risks they face in their countries: harassment, attacks, arrests, murder… They seek regional and international support through:

- An early warning mechanism and urgent action network managed by regional and international solidarity campaigns in place to address – quickly and effectively – threats made against journalists and media activists.

- The close monitoring of trials relating to the arrest/abuse of journalists, and an increased awareness of national human rights organizations, embassies and international organizations who might be called to step in cases of arbitrary arrest.

- Active solidarity with unions, non-governmental and professional organizations (such as the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum and the National Union of Iraqi Journalists).

- Digital security capacity-building to protect against censorship.

- Strengthening all kinds of collective dynamics (mass meetings, networks, etc.), especially the World Forum of Free Media and the World Forum for Human Rights

Participants to the conference commit themselves to build an informal coalition to implement the previous points and to:

- Share all information and resources which might help to protect and strengthen the capacities of journalists and media activists;

- Use the website www.freedomexpression.net and other websites to share all collected information.

Participants call for everyone to

- Attend the next World Forum for Human Rights, 27-30 November 2014 in Morocco;

- Raise issues relating to freedom of expression in the MENA region during the next World Forum of Free Media, March 2015 in Tunis.

Tunis, 30 May 2014

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