[Event] Freedom of Expression Conference (FreeXP.con3)

Igiit.Ipagdiwang.Ipahayag
Date: 2 December 2019 (Monday)
Venue: Cocoon Boutique Hotel Quezon City https://www.thecocoonhotel.com/
61 Scout Tobias corner Scout Rallos Streets, Brgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City

Introduction

Human Rights Online Philippines https://hronlineph.com/ is proud to present the third installment of our annual Freedom of Expression Conference, FreeXP.con3. Since 2017, we have brought together human rights defenders, journalists, information and technology experts and freedom of expression advocates in the country to exchange views and share experiences in asserting and claiming freedom of opinion and expression offline and online toward human rights centered society1.

At a time when the need for the human rights communities to connect, strategize and plan to protect and claim our right to freedom of expression, in 2018 FreeXP.con2 gathered human rights defenders, freedom of expression advocates, media experts, and practitioners Luz Rimban of Asian Center for Journalism (ACJ), Lisa Garcia of Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), Marlon Anthony Tonson, co-convenor Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA), Luis Gorgonio of GMA News Online, Alvin Gallardo, ICT expert, Edel Romnie Parducho of Medical Action Group (MAG), Rose Trajano of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Dean Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno of Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), Gilbert Andres of the Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition Southeast-Asia, Andrei Venal of DAKILA and Vincent Go, Photo Journalist.

This year, FreeXP.con3 provides a platform where participants could come together, showcase, and move forward their work on human rights in the digital age with the theme: Igiit, Ipagdiwang, Ipahayag!

On 2 December 2019, FreeXP.con3 highlights the situation of freedom of opinion and expression (FoE) in the Philippines, which continues to be under threat with impunity. From human rights defenders, media and journalists, bloggers and individuals who are critical of the government’s policies and actions are subjected to rampant and highly coordinated “trolling”, online abuse and smear campaign, in order to spread disinformation and provoke targeted attacks, which undermines enjoyment of their right to freedom of expression, and democracy in the Philippines.

Journalists are subject to harassment, threats, stalking, illegal arrests, raids on their outlets and killings.2 Duterte has implied that journalists are rightfully killed, stating that ‘most’ slain reporters had ‘done something’ to deserve their persecution.

FreeXP.con3 gathers bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders to tackle and address the pressing issues confronting the protection of FoE in the Philippines, and at the intersection of human rights and digital technology. Free XP.con3 takes off from the Freedom of Expression Conference 2 Declaration3, which recognizes among others threat to freedom of expression are more pronounced than ever such as the growing prevalence of disinformation (referred to as “false” or “fake news”) and propaganda in social media by both State and private individuals/groups.

FreeXP.con3 discussions may also include efforts to limit the impact of restrictive legislation, including legislation on counter-terrorism and national security, as well as restrictions on NGOs, freedom of expression and association.

Human Rights Online Philippines is an organization that works for the protection and defense of human rights defenders’ right to freedom of expression online. HRonlinePH provides practical support through physical and digital security training, advocacy and campaigning. FreeXP.con3 including the 9th Human Rights Pinduteros are milestones of the HRonlinePH initiatives, “Protection and empowerment of human rights defenders in the Philippines” with support of the British Embassy Manila under its British Embassy Programme Fund.

Objectives

FreeXP.con3 aims to examine the promotion and protection of the FoE in the context of national scope and international standards with a view of identifying challenges and sharing best practices, and inspiring initiatives taken by bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders on protection and defense of FoE in the Philippines.
 Increase awareness of participants to better advocate for stronger laws and policies for the promotion and defense of human rights;
 Identify strategic opportunities for strengthening the inclusion of human rights within the online platforms as well as its content creating greater spaces to promote FoE and reflect human rights; and
 Plan activities to take advantage of these strategic opportunities to strengthen the recognition and implementation of laws pertaining to freedom of expression, specifically
develop a strategy to counter efforts to limit the impact of restrictive legislation, including legislation on counter-terrorism and national security, as well as restrictions on CSOs, freedom of expression and association.

Target participants:

Human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, digital security practitioners, and experts from other fields and individuals working on the promotion of the FoE in the Philippines

Format
[The Chatam House Rule https://www.chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule This consideration should always guide the way in which the conference information is
disseminated – online as well as offline.]

The sequence of learning sessions followed by a showcase of cultural presentations during the conference as follows:
Plenary sessions
 Shrinking democratic space in the Philippines
 Human rights defenders’ freedom of expression: facing up to the threat
 Speak up and Speak Out: Protecting Freedom of Expression for LGBTQ
 Feminist Internet
 Promoting the right to environment and freedom of expression
 Strengthening digital security in response to online harassment and threats
 Fighting back against online abuse through human rights education
 Human rights protection mechanisms in countering online abuse and harassment

Expected outcome

The expected outcomes of the conference are:
 Stakeholders will gain a better understanding of the challenges linked to the protection and promotion of the freedom of expression both online and offline in the context of
national scope;
 Set of protection measures for human rights defenders, journalists, and individuals in claiming their right to freedom of expression; and
 Freedom of Expression Conference 3 Declaration.

1 https://bit.ly/2KDHkUP https://bit.ly/2KAQykE
2 https://bit.ly/32Xrzyp
3 https://hronlineph.com/freexp-con/freedom-of-expression-conference-2-declaration/

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