Tag Archives: Freedom of expression

[Statement] More Filipinos are turning to social media to vent their frustrations about the government’s response to stop the spread of COVID-19 -HRonlinePH

The Human Rights Online Philippines share the concern of a public school teacher in General Santos City, as she expressed her frustrations on Facebook over the local government’s measures that many people are going hungry amid a lockdown in said city. https://www.rappler.com/nation/256157-teacher-son-arrested-without-warrant-general-santos-city-facebook-post-coronavirus

Juliet Espinosa, a 55-year-old public school teacher was arrested by police in General Santos City without a warrant at around 8:00pm on March 27, in reprisal for posting on what local officials tagged as a “provoking” Facebook post, and face charges of inciting to sedition and disobedience to authority, and violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. She was arrested along with her son of legal age for trying to stop the police officers from taking his mother.

Based on news reports, Ms. Espinosa was behind a series of Facebook posts under the name of “Yet Rodriguez Enosencio” that criticized the local government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she was concerned with reports of the miserable situation of some residents due to the impact of the quarantine on their livelihood and that the local government had done nothing to address the problem. “Maraming mamamatay sa gutom if hindi tayo magtutulong-tulong na magreport sa Pangulo na inutil ang ating Mayor…. Panawagan sa walang makain, sugurin ‘nyo na nang sabay-sabay ang Lagao Gym. Nakatambak doon ang pagkaing para sa inyo.”

The scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly rises to the level of a public health threat that could justify restrictions on certain rights, such as those that result from the imposition of quarantine or isolation limiting freedom of movement.

Human Rights Online Philippines fully understand and support the efforts of the government to develop and implement strategies to protect human health and human life. The fundamental and non-derogable right to life is at stake, and our government is obligated to ensure its protection.*

Under international human rights law, governments have an obligation to protect the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information of all kinds, regardless of frontiers. Permissible restrictions on freedom of expression for reasons of public health, noted above, may not put in jeopardy the right itself.

The World Health Organization has emphasized that accurate, timely information is essential to fighting COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the government is cracking down on people and implementing sweeping restrictions under the guise of combating misinformation.

While we share the concern that false information about the pandemic could lead to health concerns, panic, and disorder. In this connection, we urge the government to ensure that accurate and up-to-date information about the virus, access to services, service disruptions, and other aspects of the response to the outbreak is readily available and accessible to all.

Human Rights Online Philippines emphasized that any attempts to criminalize information relating to the pandemic undermined trust in government actions, delay access to reliable information and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Especially at a time of emergency, when freedom of expression and access to information is of critical importance, broad restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.

——-

*COVID-19: Governments must promote and protect access to and free flow of information during a pandemic, say international media freedom experts, 19 March 2020

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[Statement] A call for understanding and compassion (TDC statement on the arrest of a Gensan teacher)

“While we do not condone any violent acts or statements at this period of national emergency, we plea for understanding and human compassion for our colleague. Apparently, the old lady may be desperate, perhaps not for herself or her family but for other people in her community. What she did was a response of a person who cares for her neighbors, albeit in a manner that may be contrary to our existing laws.”
-Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC)

A call for understanding and compassion
(TDC statement on the arrest of a Gensan teacher)

We are saddened by the news report that a public elementary school teacher from Gen. Santos City was arrested by the police yesterday along with her son, who is also a teacher. The arrest was made following a post in social media which according to the authorities is damaging and seditious.

The said teacher, last Friday posted this on her Facebook account, “CALLING THE ATTENTION OF THE GENERALS, MARAMING MAMAMATAY SA GUTOM IF HINDI TAYO MAGTULUNG TULONG NA IREPORT SA PANGULO NA NAPAKAINUTIL NG ATING MAYOR !!!”

After two hours, she again posted another statement that reads, “PANAWAGAN SA MGA WALA NG MAKAING GENERALS. SUGURIN NYO NA NG SABAY SABAY ANG LAGAO GYM. NAKATAMBAK DOON ANG MGA PAGKAING PARA SA INYO.”

The seemingly sarcastic posts allegedly prompted the LGU legal office to file a complaint which eventually leads to her arrest. The son, a 33-year old teacher tried to defend her mother was arrested too.

While we do not condone any violent acts or statements at this period of national emergency, we plea for understanding and human compassion for our colleagues. Apparently, the old lady may be desperate, perhaps not for herself or her family but for other people in her community. What she did was a response of a person who cares for her neighbors, albeit in a manner that may be contrary to our existing laws.

We call on the honorable mayor of General Santos City and the city police as well as the Department of Justice to be more understanding and exercise human compassion. We stand by the earlier pronouncement of Hon. Menardo Guevarra, the good secretary of justice that “During abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion.” And we believe that this applies also to an ordinary classroom teacher and not just to a sitting senator, they are both humans, after all.

May this incident also serve as a reminder to our leaders, especially to our local government units to expedite the delivery of assistance to their respective jurisdictions. An open communication system with the communities would also help so as not to develop unrest among the local population.

Lastly, we call on our colleagues in the teaching profession and in the general public to exercise prudence and sobriety amidst this crisis. # March 28, 2020
(Photo courtesy of Rappler)

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[In the news] Joel Lamangan’s message at today’s senate hearing is a moving statement on freedom of speech

The director Joel Lamangan has helmed films, movies, and stage plays but his mode of expression this Monday morning, February 24, was, plain and simple, his words.

Representing the Director’s Guild of the Philippines, Lamangan appeared at the senate hearing for the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN and spoke about freedom of expression, a subject very close to this artist and activist’s heart. He said he was saddened by the fact that the discussion before him was not about how freedom of expression can be broadened and deepened but how it can be curtailed— which is the equivalent of shutting down the biggest media network in the country.

Lamangan’s filmography includes a lot of comedies, and romantic and domestic dramas, but he’s also behind many socially relevant works such as The Flor Contemplacion Story, Bakit May Kahapon Pa? and Mila.

Below is his full statement before the Senate:

“Ang Director’s Guild of the Philippines po ay narito upang ating bigyang pansin ang isang nakalulungkot na bagay na nangyayari sa atin. Ako po ay nalulungkot dahil sa pagpupulong na ito ay ating dini-discuss ang pagpatay sa isang plataporma na nagbibigay, naglulunsad ng kalayaan sa pananalita, kalayaan sa pamamahayag, at kalayaan sa pagpapahayag.

Nalulungkot ako at dumating tayo sa ganoong panahon. Sa halip na ating pag-usapan kung paano payayamanin ang mga plataporma na maglulunsad ng mga kalayaang ito, idi-discuss natin ay pagkitil at pagpatay dito. Hindi ba’t yun ang kalungkot-lungkot?

“Kaming mga direktor ng pelikula at telebisyon at tanghalan, ang aming mga materyal na pinagkukunan ng aming kwento ay ang buhay ng tao. Ang araw-araw na katotohanang nakikita namin sa lansangan. Ang araw-araw na nakikita namin mula sa aming paggising hanggang sa aming pagtulog. Yun ho ang batayan ng aming sinasalaysay na kwento na aming shine-share sa daan-daang mga manonood.

Read more @news.abs-cbn.com

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[Statement] Amnesty International Philippines on Ph govt’s move to shut down ABSCBN

Amnesty Statement on Ph govt’s move to shut down ABSCBN:

Amnesty International condemns the Philippine government’s latest efforts to clamp down on the media, including the Solicitor General’s ongoing attempts to shut down ABS-CBN, one of the country’s largest TV networks.

Amnesty International calls on the government to immediately end any moves to shut down ABS-CBN, as well as other media networks in the country, and urges it to respect, protect and fulfil the right to freedom expression and media freedom.

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[From the web] Enchong Dee to fellow artists: Speak up not only because our job is in peril -INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — As Enchong Dee backed ABS-CBN in its franchise ordeal, the actor called on his fellow artists to speak up and be alert not only because their job is on the line but because it’s their duty as Filipinos to fight for democracy.

“I always tell people that ‘Artists should be the first line of defense of our democracy’, people tend to agree, but most do nothing about it or get reprimanded for saying something political,” Dee said.

“Very few listen and even fewer are brave enough to stand their ground because of their ‘reputation’. Now that ABS-CBN (my home for almost 15 years) is being wrongly accused of so many things… I am angry. I am sad. I am bothered,” he added.

The actor pointed out the need for vigilance as a Filipino fighting for democracy, and not simply due to the possibility of their jobs being jeopardized.

“I am a Filipino first and my job comes second. Let’s be vigilant not only because our jobs are in peril but mainly because we are Filipinos fighting for the democracy and Constitution of our country,” Dee said.

Click the link below to read more:

Enchong Dee to fellow artists: Speak up not only because our job is in peril

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[From the web] EU body flags grave concern over human rights, ‘shrinking’ media freedom in PH -CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 12) — The European Commission flagged “grave” concerns over drug war deaths, attacks on human rights defenders, and shrinking media freedom in the Philippines.

The body, which evaluates the grant of duty-free exports for Philippine companies sending their goods to the European Union, pointed out pressing issues in the country.

“The conclusions from the mission showed a mixed picture with continuing violations of civil and political rights and some positive developments in the socio-economic and environmental fields,” the commission said in the report published Monday.

Read more @www.cnn.ph

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[Video] FreeXP.con3 Highlights

Let us welcome 2020 by a throwback video of the Highlights of the FreeXP.con3. Igiit. Ipagdiwang. Ipahayag! #HumanRights

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.

[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/

[Statement] #HandsOffSkimmers -UPV-USC, LCCS, and student organizations

Unity statement of UPV-USC, LCCS, and student organizations against the doxxing and harassment targeting members of the Skimmers Academic Organization by State-sponsored trolls of the Duterte administration

Last Wednesday, October 16, 2019, UP Visayas kicked off its Pahampang Season through the annual Cheering Competition where all academic organizations best each other through cheers that tackle social and political issues from the university administration level all the way to national and global scales.

For this year, Skimmers, the academic organization under the Division of Humanities, won 1st place. Their performance highlighted press freedom, media killings, and exploitation. It also took up issues on the West Philippine Sea, Rice Tarrification Law, CHED’s Memorandum that removed Filipino, Panitikan, and the Philippine Constitution as core subjects in college, and the government’s call for mandatory ROTC.

A video of Skimmers’ performance was uploaded on social media and immediately gained traction after certain groups and pages singled out a line in Skimmers’ cheer condemning the Duterte administration’s inaction over the Philippine claim on the West Philippine Sea.

The line’s satirical nature did not sit well with Duterte supporters as they took their threats and harassment to Facebook and launched different attacks against Skimmers and its cheerers. These threats are made more pressing and credible as the pages and groups supporting Duterte publicized some personal information of the Skimmers Governor and Skimmers adviser, making them a target.

The attacks intensified when Mocha Uson herself shared a snippet of the Skimmers’ cheer on her personal blog, with the caption “Let’s kill the President daw? Yan na ba talaga ang tinuturo nila sa University of the Philippines ngayon?”. The post in question has over 321,000 views and 2,000 shares at the time of writing, which has inspired Duterte supporters to send video threats to several Skimmers cheerers, post their photos without consent (which is a clear violation of the Data Privacy Act), and red tag the University along with its University Student Council.

Click the link to read more:

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[In the news] UP Visayas community condemns threats against students after viral cheer routine -GMA news

The University of the Philippines Visayas’ Student Council and other student organizations over the weekend said they “strongly condemn” the harassment received by UPV organization the Skimmers after their cheer critical of the Duterte administration’s policies went viral.

“With the increased instances of red-tagging by this oppressive state whenever the University raises awareness and action on societal issues, we will not and will never tolerate any kind of harassment or unjust behavior towards our constituents, whether we are facing a single troll or the whole Duterte administration. We won’t let this go unanswered,” the groups said in a statement.

The Skimmers became the target of online threats and harassment by pro-Duterte groups after their cheer, which highlighted social and political issues, went viral on social media last week.

The group showcased a cheer routine that criticized the Duterte administration and tackled issues such as media oppression and repression; the “red-tagging” of students and schools; the administration’s policy towards China regarding the West Philippine Sea; and the Rice Tariffication Law.

Read more @www.gmanetwork.com

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[In the news] UN Special Rapporteur urges PHL gov’t to drop charges vs. Rappler, Maria Ressa -GMAnetwork.com

UN Special Rapporteur urges PHL gov’t to drop charges vs. Rappler, Maria Ressa

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression has called on the Philippine government to drop charges against news website Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa.

In a statement dated December 6, David Kaye claimed that the complaints against Ressa and her media outfit, which had been critical of the Duterte administration, were being utilized as “censorship” tool.

“In light of past measures taken against Rappler, I am concerned that the charges of tax evasion constitute an attempt to silence the news outlet’s independent reporting,” Kaye said.

“This is a serious threat against independent and investigative journalism in the Philippines, and will have implications beyond its borders,” Kaye added.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[Event] Magmalasakit. Magpahayag. Magtanggol! -XP2

On day one, participants will be joined by bloggers and individuals representing various civil society organizations in the Freedom of Expression Conference 2 (FreeXP.con2). FreeXP.con2 will highlight 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 are subjected to rampant and highly coordinated “trolling”, online abuse and smear campaign, in order to seed disinformation and foment targeted attacks, which undermines enjoyment of their right to freedom of expression, and democracy in the Philippines. This onslaught of online abuse represents a real threat to the freedom of expression both online and offline, psychological and even the physical safety of human rights defenders, journalists and individuals critical of the government.

On the evening of day one, 8th HR Pinduteros Choice Awards Night
The online event that recognizes human rights defenders’ online activities (Individuals and groups) that informed, inspired and mobilized the online readers to our common cause that is to promote, defend and assert human rights utilizing the internet as a tool.

On day two and three, Media training on Human Rights
Media trainings with roundtable conference among print, broadcast and digital journalists with the objective of increasing their capacity for human rights reporting and covering issues/news with a human rights lens.

Freedom of Expression Conference Declaration

Freedom of Expression Conference Declaration

We, human rights defenders and civil society organizations (CSOs) working for the defense and protection of human rights, gathered in Quezon City, Philippines, during the Freedom of Expression Conference, FreeXP.con organized by the Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH) on 1-2 December 2017;

Reaffirming, that the right to freedom of expression is the most fundamental freedom and right in a democratic society, as enshrined in Article III, Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Philippines and international standards as follows:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • ILO Convention N° 135, Workers’ Representatives Convention
  • General Comment 10 [19] (Article 19) of the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1 of 19 May 1989)
  • General Comment 11 [19] (Article 20) of the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/21/Rev.1 of 19 May 1989)
  • The public’s right to know: Principles on Freedom of Information Legislation. Annex II Report E/CN.4/2000/63

Recalling, the General Comment No. 34 of Human Rights Committee, which recognizes, “the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms.” Affirming that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online,”;

Recognizing, restrictions on freedom of expression may also be imposed, as long as they are consistent with the requirements noted in paragraph 1, “to prohibit advocacy of hatred on protected grounds that constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination or hostility” (in reference to Article 20 of the ICCPR;

Recognizing, threats to freedom of expression are more pronounced than ever such as the growing prevalence of disinformation (sometimes referred to as “false” or “fake news”) and propaganda in social media, fueled by both State and non-State actors;

Considering, alarming instances in which public authorities denigrate, intimidate and threaten the media, from outright government official statements that the media is “the opposition” or is “lying” and has a hidden political agenda, increasing the risks on our lives, with threats and violence against human rights defenders and critical public are heightened; and threat of outright misleading the public by blurring the lines between disinformation and media products containing independently verifiable facts;

Deploring, attempts by the government to suppress dissent through such measures as repressive rules regarding the restrictive laws on exercising right to freedom of expression e.g. cyber libel provisions under the Republic Act No. 10175, or the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012” and Senate Bill No. 1492 or the “Anti-Fake News Act of 2017”;

Reiterating, the government has the obligation to foster an enabling environment for freedom of expression by taking measures to promote media and digital literacy, including but not limited to, engaging with civil society organizations and other stakeholders to address the negative effects of disinformation and propaganda;

Acknowledging, the role played by the Internet and other digital technologies in supporting individuals’ ability to access and disseminate information and ideas, which both enables responses to disinformation and propaganda, while also facilitating their circulation; and

Welcoming, the importance of stakeholders cooperation including intermediaries, media outlets, civil society, that should be supported in developing participatory and transparent initiatives for creating a better understanding of the impact of disinformation and propaganda on democracy, freedom of expression, journalism and civic space, as well as appropriate responses to these phenomena;

Adopt, this Declaration of the Freedom of Expression Conference in Quezon City, Philippines, in the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, on 10 December 2017.

Signed:

Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)
Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition Southeast-Asia (AFEC-SEA)
Amnesty International- Philippines
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC)
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN)
Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (KAISA KA)
Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA)
Cecilia Lero
Balay Rehabilitation Center Inc.
Medical Action Group (MAG)
Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)
Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)

[Event] FreeXP.con -Freedom of Expression Conference FreeXP.con

FreeXP.con
Freedom of Expression Conference FreeXP.con

#WagMatakotMagpahayag

Introduction

Freedom of Expression Conference, FreeXP.con organized by the Human Rights Online Philippines https://hronlineph.com/ will highlight the situation of freedom of 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 are subjected to rampant and highly coordinated “trolling”, online abuse and smear campaign, in order to seed disinformation and foment targeted attacks, which undermines enjoyment of their right to freedom of expression, and democracy in the Philippines. This onslaught of online abuse represents a real threat to the freedom of expression both online and offline, psychological and even the physical safety of human rights defenders, journalists and individuals critical of the government.

Free XP.con will explore some of these trends with human rights defenders, legal experts, journalists and victims of reported online abuse in the Philippines. The conference will provide venue for sharing of experiences and responses to the online threats and disinformation, and generating evidence-based concrete platform of actions in defending the FoE against the culture of impunity and a system set-up to silence dissent in the country.

Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH) 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.

Free XP.con including 7th Human Rights Pinduteros is a milestone of the HRonlinePH project, “Protection and empowerment of human rights defenders in the Philippines” with support of the British Embassy Manila under its British Embassy Programme Fund.

Objectives

Based on the documentation and reports received by the HRonlinePH, the conference seeks to examine the promotion and protection of the FoE online in the context of national scope and international norms with a view of identifying challenges and sharing best practices, and inspiring initiatives taken by human rights defenders and journalists among others on protection and defense of FoE in the Philippines. The results will also provide tracking of progress under the Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 on “public access to information and fundamental freedom” and compliance of the Philippine government to Article 19, freedom of expression, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

  • Free XP.con aims to achieve the following objectives:
  • To provide comparative opportunities for human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers among others to learn from wider experiences to adopt good practices and solutions in support of FoE and improved online safety and security;
  • To generate measures for strengthening inclusion of human rights within the online platforms as well as its content creating greater spaces to promote FoE and reflect human rights norms; and
  • To identify and encourage the key stakeholders including the government to reflect upon need of reforms and implementation of policies and practices in support of protection of FoE in the Philippines.

Date: 1-2 December 2017 (Friday-Saturday)

Opening of the commemoration of the International Human Rights Week

Venue: in Quezon City (exact venue to be announced)

Target participants:

The event will bring together human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, faith-based workers, human rights campaigners, experts from other fields and individuals working on the promotion of the FoE and those who are affected by the online abuse and “trolling”.

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 during the conference will be as follows:

Plenary sessions

  • The protection and defense of FoE in the Philippines.
  • Human rights defenders’ freedom of expression: facing up to the threat
  • Online attacks and trolling on the Commission on Human Rights
  • Regional situation of FoE
  • Communicating human rights
  • Strengthening digital security in response to online harassment and threats

*At the end of the plenary discussions, panelists will be given three minutes each to make their concluding remarks, followed by final remarks of the moderator. Followed by Q and A.

Thematic workshops

  • Parallel workshops that would identify common challenges, share good practices and solutions
  • Fighting back against online abuse through human rights education
  • “Security in a box”
  • Human rights protection mechanisms in countering online abuse and harassment

Summing up sessions

At the end of the workshops, all participants will convene in a plenary session to summarize the results of thematic workshops; designated rapporteurs from each group will briefly summarize the results and recommendations.

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;
  • Organizer will prepare a summary report on the outcome of the panel discussion, which will be submitted to the government, Commission on Human Rights, members of diplomatic community, international human rights organizations and UN Special Procedures including platforms like Facebook;
  • Proposed Declaration on Freedom of Expression or Plan of Action on the Freedom of Expression and the Issue of Impunity;
  • Protection measures for human rights defenders, journalists and individuals in claiming their right to freedom of expression;
  • Sense of solidarity among human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers among others to fight the culture of impunity.

Background documents

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders)

[From the web] Defending human rights online in the time of Duterte -VERA Files

Defending human rights online in the time of Duterte
by Arianne Christian Tapao, VERA Files

Rights defender Rosemarie Trajano got the shock of her life when news broke that Caloocan City police got their information about Kian Loyd Delos Santos’ alleged drug running only from social media.

The 52-year-old advocate is no stranger to threats. A human rights defender (HRD) for 30 years, her name appears in police lists as a person of interest. But the fact that a 17-year-old student was killed over unfounded information gave her the chills. She calls it “disturbing, unprofessional.”

The secretary-general of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Trajano says she’s more scared about what might happen to the lesser known rights campaigners. “Kilala ako so less takot ako. Mas natatakot ako sa HRDs na hindi pa kilala (I’m a prominent defender so I’m not so scared for myself as I am for other HRDs).”

Indeed, times have worsened for rights campaigners, who have been demonized by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself because of their condemnation of the extra-judicial killings that have marked the government’s war on illegal drugs.

In his second State of the Nation Address, the president went as far as to call for the abolition of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), accusing it of defending criminals. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The Commission on Human Rights, explained)

Read full article @verafiles.org

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Protect Freedom of Expression Campaign, ‘Wag Matakot Magpahayag!-HRonlinePH.com

The Human Rights Online Philippines (HRonlinePH) www.hronlineph.com presents its project, “Protection and empowerment of human rights defenders in the Philippines”, supported by the British Embassy Manila, and key information on its experiences supporting the use of information technology in campaign and advocacy among communities of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Philippines.

The project was launched last Thursday, August 31, 2017 at Pres. R. V. Palma, 105-106 function room, University Hotel, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

As information and communication technologies have become central to organizing, campaigning and day-to-day communication in human rights work, many reports and cases has concurrently documented and verified the increased use of technologies to monitor communications and harass human rights defenders, restricting their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, both online and offline.

This will be an opportunity to discuss experiences of human rights defenders who are often harassed and intimated for publishing human rights related information on websites, blogs or social networking sites, or for criticizing authorities or government policies, both online or offline.

[In the news] Human rights defenders call for safe environment online vs harassment, threats -RAPPLER

Human rights defenders call for safe environment online vs harassment, threats
by Jodesz Gavilan, RAPPLER

Human Rights Online Philippines’ project comes amid threats and harassment advocates have been receiving online ever since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs

 

MANILA, Philippines – A human rights organization is taking a stand against the vitriol and harassment advocates have been subjected to under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

On Thursday, August 31, Human Rights Online Philippines (HR Online PH) launched the “Protect Freedom of Expression” project which aims to establish a support mechanism for individuals and groups working on upholding human rights.

Gusto natin na through this project, makagawa ng safe and just environment talaga (What we want to with this project is to create a safe and just environment),” Jerbert Briola, project coordinator of of HR Online PH, said.

The project gives a special focus on social media where human rights defenders have been attacked. Digital security trainings will be conducted for various organizations to better equip themselves in their advocacy projects online.

The project comes amid the “demonized” concept of human rights as advocates continue to criticize the violations under Duterte’s bloody anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) shows that more than 3,500 suspected drug personalities have been killed in drug operations since July 2016. The number of people killed by vigilantes is still highly debated.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[Blog] The Paris Shooting: Barbarism, Terrorism and Hypocrisy by Jose Mario De Vega

The Paris Shooting: Barbarism, Terrorism and Hypocrisy
by Jose Mario De Vega

I joined the international community and the world in general in condemning to the highest possible extent and gravest degree the arbitrarily and heartless criminal and terroristic act committed by some bloody bastard freaks against the journalists (and two policemen) of the Paris-based satire publication Charlie Hebdo.

Mario De Vega

My heart and thoughts goes to all the victims and their grieving families of this horrendous and gruesome act of inhumanity, barbarism, terrorism!

Further, it is my fervent view that the said criminal act is an act of cowardice and idiocy of the highest order!

Needless to state, though those murderers managed to kill some staff and employees of the said magazine, I doubt if their idiotic action has achieved anything at all. They are dead wrong if they thought that their violence, their barbarism, their bullets will stop those satirists from further doing what they are doing.

History has shown that both the sword and the bullet (and the bombs) are useless and powerless in the face of the pen, which according to the saying is the mightiest sword ever invented and used by any protagonist and partisans.

Threats, violence and even death will not stop a free and questioning mind!

The perpetrators of this gruesome attack are evil creatures.

I hold those mindless and heartless killers as bastard freaks and bloody terrorists, not as Muslims or Blacks or foreigners.

Their crime has nothing to do with the so-called religion that they professed to have and fanatically proclaimed.

It is my fervent view that our focus and debate should not be on the religion of these terrorists, but rather on their idiocy, barbarism and inhumanity.

Their religion has nothing to do with their barbaric act.

As a former expatriate, a humanist and an atheist who has lived in Muslim-majority country, I was always treated with respect and open hospitality; that is despite the fact that they perfectly knew of my atheism. It appalled me and I find it so tragic that people or rather creatures with no real exposure to Islam can be so hateful of something they know nothing about. To reiterate, those bastard mass murderers are not Muslims, they are criminals and terrorists. That’s it!

Now, we should unite in our grief to stand against terrorism, otherwise we are letting the terrorists succeed.

Let me explain:

One of the victims, Ahmed Merabet, a policeman who was shot mercilessly by the terrorists, according to the reports is a Muslim of Algerian descent.

But for me, he is not a French police officer of Algerian descent neither he is a Muslim because the truth and the fact is that that brave man is a decent and kind human being.

The same is true of the hero of the Kosher grocery, Lassana Bathily. He is not a black man, he is not from Mali and he is also not a Muslim. For the truth is: he is a good and a courageous human being from the human community.

These two men has shown the world that goodness and being a good human being does not come from race, religion, ethnicity, etc. but from the greatness of their character.

They did the right thing not because they are black or white or because they are French or Algerian or that they have a religion or not, but rather they did what they did because it is the right thing to do regardless of the consequences.

In the words of Kevin Dolgin:

“I am French and American, but today I don’t want to be labeled as anything except human being. Everything else is incidental. This is a central—perhaps the central—tenet of humanism, and it is what caricature so eloquently illuminates. It can seem puerile to show some priest, prophet, or politician farting, but fundamentally what that does is to take the sacred, more-than-human figure and reduce it to what it really is: a human being, no more, no less. Ideologies elevate their leaders and gurus to superhuman status while reducing those outside the fold to subhuman status and so justify violence. Humanism makes this impossible—we are all just members of the same species, equal. It is the basis of our morality.

“As we polemicize and debate, don’t forget that the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were fighting for humanism in a way that was probably much, much more effective than anything any of us were doing—certainly more than anything I was doing. For years they knew they were in danger of losing their lives, and they did it anyway.

“I suggest the following: Laugh. Make fun of the enemies of humanism and thus the enemies of humanity. And help those who do laugh out loud.”

The marginalization, exploitation and isolation of the Muslims

I agree that majority of the Western powers and societies violate the rights of their Muslim minority, that they suffered discrimination, marginalization, exploitation, isolation, etc.

I also agree that the (continuing) actions of the Western powers, so as their allies, such as the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, their meddling in the affairs of Syria, their hypocrisy and super double standards with regard to the Palestinian question and their super bias stand when it comes to the defense of bastard Israel, etc. has radicalized some of the Muslims today.

The continuing genocide being committed by Israel everyday against the Palestinian people has made the Muslim and Arab world rage and restless.

To quote the words of Chris Hedges:

“It is dangerous to ignore this rage. But it is even more dangerous to refuse to examine and understand its origins. It did not arise from the Quran or Islam. It arose from mass despair, from palpable conditions of poverty, along with the West’s imperial violence, capitalist exploitation and hubris. As the resources of the world diminish, especially with the onslaught of climate change, the message we send to the unfortunate of the earth is stark and unequivocal: We have everything and if you try to take anything away from us we will kill you. The message the dispossessed send back is also stark and unequivocal. It was delivered in Paris.”

Yet, though I agree with them on their/our hate and disgust of US imperialism and their bastard allies, I disagree with their terroristic act.

Fighting imperialism and discrimination using terrorism is also barbarism!

The Question of Freedom of Expression

As a Humanist and a son of the Enlightenment, it is my firm view that freedom of expression is one of the most basic of all human rights.

The Enlightenment is “a philosophical movement of the 1700s that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions and that brought about many humanitarian reforms.”

One of its lasting legacy and principle is the freedom of thought and the freedom of expression.

Though, said freedom was born in the West, it did not stop some Western countries, primordially the US from curtailing the said freedom especially if it blocks or advance their political agenda.

In the critical words of Corey Oakley:

“For the last decade and a half the United States, backed to varying degrees by the governments of other Western countries, has rained violence and destruction on the Arab and Muslim world with a ferocity that has few parallels in the history of modern warfare.

“It was not pencils and pens – let alone ideas – that left Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan shattered and hundreds of thousands of human beings dead. Not twelve. Hundreds of thousands. All with stories, with lives, with families. Tens of millions who have lost friends, family, homes and watched their country be torn apart.

“To the victims of military occupation; to the people in the houses that bore the brunt of “shock and awe” bombing in Iraq; to those whose bodies were disfigured by white phosphorous and depleted uranium; to the parents of children who disappeared into the torture cells of Abu Ghraib; to all of them – what but cruel mockery is the contention that Western “civilisation” fights its wars with the pen and not the sword?

“And that is only to concern ourselves with the latest round of atrocities. It is not even to consider the century or more of Western colonial policies that through blood and iron have consigned all but a tiny few among the population of the Arab world to poverty and hopelessness.

“It is not to even mention the brutal rule of French colonialism in Algeria, and its preparedness to murder hundreds of thousands of Algerians and even hundreds of French-Algerian citizens in its efforts to maintain the remnants of empire. It is leaving aside the ongoing poverty, ghettoisation and persecution endured by the Muslim population of France, which is mostly of Algerian origin.

“The history of the West’s relationship with the Muslim world – a history of colonialism and imperialism, of occupation, subjugation and war – cries out in protest against the quaint idea that
“Western values” entail a rejection of violence and terror as political tools.

“Of course the pen has played its role as well. The pens that signed the endless Patriot Acts, anti-terror laws and other bills that entrenched police harassment and curtailed civil rights. The pens of the newspaper editorialists who whip up round after round of hysteria, entrenching anti-Muslim prejudice and making people foreigners in their own country. But the pens of newspaper editors were strong not by virtue of their wit or reason, but insofar as they were servants of the powerful and their guns.

“Consideration of this context not only exposes the hypocrisy of those who create the narrative of an enlightened West defending freedom of speech, it also points to the predictability and inevitability of horrific acts of terrorism in response. Of course we will never know what was going through the minds of the three men who carried out this latest atrocity. But it is the height of ahistorical philistinism to ignore the context – both recent and longstanding – in which these attacks took place.”

Let me be clear that what I am defending here is the Enlightenment principle of the freedom of expression of the 17th century, not the so-called freedom of expression of the imperial, decadent West of today.

Hence, it is my view that both the government (whether they belong in the West, the East or anywhere; whether they are democratic or not, de facto or de jure, legitimate or not, monarchial or otherwise, capitalist or socialist, etc.) and the terrorists has no right to attack, to curtain or limit the freedom of expression.

In the same vein, no class or group of persons or race or ethnicity or religious people (whatever or whoever they are) has the right to demand to be free from mockery, satire, criticism, parody, etc.

Freedom of expression simply means the right to offend.

A Call to Humanity

To some Western governments: don’t act as if you are concern in protecting journalists and defending the freedom of speech and expression. The whole world knows your hypocrisy and double standards.

To some of our Muslim brothers and sisters: please don’t be so sensitive and naïve. If your faith to your religious belief is strong and indomitable, then there is no amount of satire and parody that can shake your faith.

I also know that the West are violating your rights and dignity, but don’t act the way they act. Let us fight them in a reasonable manner. It doesn’t mean that because they are terrorizing us, we must also terrorize them. Then, end of the day, we are both terrorists and they will succeed in branding you/us are the terrorists, even though, ironically the whole world knows who the real and ultimate terrorists are!

We must at all cost always assume the moral high ground, no matter how hard it is!

To the bloody bastard terrorists (Some Western governments and the fanatics): your violence, bombs, bullets and guns will not stop the pen from writing against you. Our pen is mightier than your sword!

To Humanity: let us all join together and unite as One to stop this madness, what Gilbert Arhcar called as the “clash of barbarism”.

We must all fight and struggle for All Humanity!

The Hypocrisy of the World Leader’s March

I applaud the people of the world in coming into the open in defense of the freedom of expression and forge solidarity to the whole of Humanity, but I cannot help but wonder, why the hell they allow some bastard immoral and evil men to join the same and hence leads to bastardization a great world event?

What the hell is the moral right of Benjamin Netanhayu to join the world march in Paris? When the whole world knows that that son of a bitch is a mass murderer?

Further, why it is that the picture of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel was omitted or according to some reports, photo shopped?

Is it because she is a woman and “it is a man’s world”?

This is a shame!

Question:

Where the hell is this so-called world leader’s march when Israel is wiping out, destroying to the ground Gaza and the satanic IDF are killing tens of thousands of the Palestinian people?

I weep for all those people that died in Paris, but if I may ask, is the world also crying for those thousands of people who died and still dying in Palestine?

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Unibersidad de Manila

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[From the web] France: An Attack on Free Expression, Response to Charlie Hebdo Killings Should Protect Rights -HRW

France: An Attack on Free Expression
Response to Charlie Hebdo Killings Should Protect Rights

(PARIS, JANUARY 8, 2015) — French authorities should bring to justice those responsible for the horrific attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should guard against backlash against French Muslims and ensure that their broader response protects human rights.

200px-Hrw_logo.svg

The attack in Paris during an editorial meeting of the satirical magazine left 12 people dead, including two police officers. A dozen people were injured, four of them in very critical condition. It was the most deadly attack in France since 1961.

“This appalling crime is an effort to limit freedom of expression and an attack on those who celebrate free speech,” said Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The response should be to bring those responsible to justice by way of a fair trial, and to protect media workers from violence and Muslims from reprisal.”

The authorities have identified two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, as the main suspects. A major police operation has been created to search for them. On the morning of January 8 in southern Paris, a man shot another police officer, who has since died of her injuries. Bernard Cazeneuve, the minister of the interior, has announced that the latest incident does not appear to be linked to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Charlie Hebdo is famous for its controversial depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and for reprinting derogatory cartoons about the prophet that had been published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2006. The Charlie Hebdo offices were firebombed in 2011, and staff have received multiple threats. A police officer had been assigned to the chief editor, Stephane Charbonnier, for his protection. Both were killed in the January 7 attack.

Nothing can justify the horrific attack against Charlie Hebdo and the police officers, Human Rights Watch said. A core element of the right to freedom of expression under human rights law is the right to express opinions that offend, shock, or disturb. The French authorities should continue to uphold and promote this freedom, as should other governments around the world, including by providing security so that journalists can carry out their work.

Based on video footage of the attack, two armed men fleeing the scene shouted the words “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great” in Arabic) and “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” (”On a vengé le Prophète Muhammad”). The French Council of Muslim Faith condemned the attack, as did the president of the Conference of Imams in France.

It is essential for the French authorities to guard against any backlash against Muslims or other groups, Human Rights Watch said. Several mosques in France have been attacked since the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Cazeneuve has rightly condemned those attacks. Three grenades were thrown into a mosque in Le Mans during the night of January 7, one of which exploded without causing any injuries. Shots were fired at a Muslim prayer room, which was empty at the time, on the same evening in Port-la-Nouvelle, southern France, media reported. An explosion damaged the façade of a kebab restaurant close to a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saone on the morning of January 8, without causing any casualties. After the gruesome murder of a British soldier, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, south London, in May 2013, attacks against Muslims across the UK soared.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has rightly warned against hatred, intolerance, and conflations that could be made following the attack. The French authorities should ensure that Muslims and others are not targeted for reprisals, and investigate any such incidents. The authorities should assess the security risks around mosques, Muslim prayer rooms, and other places that are vulnerable to such attacks across France, and provide reinforced security as necessary.

While the French authorities should continue their search for those responsible for the attacks and hold them accountable for their acts, the authorities should not use this attack to adopt any new measures in the name of counterterrorism that would undermine human rights.

France already has very broad powers in this area. In November 2014 parliament passed a new counterterrorism law that expands those powers even further, without sufficient safeguards against abuses.

The new law allows the authorities to ban French nationals from leaving the country if they are suspected of traveling abroad to participate in terrorist activities, or of posing a threat to public safety after they return from a place where terrorist groups operate. The law also created a new offense of an “individual terrorist undertaking,” a vaguely worded offense that could lead to people facing such criminal charges for conduct that is not clearly described in the law as unlawful.

Human Rights Watch research has found that the pre-existing and broadly defined offense of “criminal association in relation to a terrorist undertaking,” has led to charges and convictions on the basis of weak and circumstantial evidence.

The new French law is part of a wider European policy response to fears that citizens of European countries may travel to Iraq or Syria to join the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) or other groups and then return to Europe to carry out attacks. A counterterrorism bill before the UK parliament includes new measures aimed at curbing so-called foreign fighters that could breach guarantees of free movement, family life, and free expression. Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway are pursuing or considering policies to strip citizenship or restrict their citizens’ free movement.

Valls has confirmed that several arrests have been made in relation to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. While it remains unclear on what grounds those arrests have been made, the French authorities should ensure that the rights of all detainees are fully respected, and that anyone charged with an offense enjoys the full range of due process rights.

“At this time of shock and mourning, France should set an example of tolerance and uphold the freedoms it promotes,” Leghtas said. “Freedom of expression should not be weakened by this attack, nor should any other human rights.”

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[Press Release] ICT policy advocacy group joins ‘Black Tuesday’ EDSA Protest -FMA

ICT policy advocacy group joins ‘Black Tuesday’ EDSA Protest

FMA Stop Cyber ML“Policies governing the cyberspace or in general, information and communications technology (ICT) should always be in the framework of rights,” reiterates Foundation for Media Alternatives, an organization active for pushing for the upholding of human rights in different ICT policy spaces.

FMA

FMA joins the Filipino people in EDSA, in expressing its disappointment over the Supreme Court (SC) decision on February 18, 2014 upholding the constitutionality of majority of the provisions on of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. “While we understand that the SC has (partially) seen the light and declared the unconstitutionality of section 12 or the real-time collection of traffic data, and section 19 or the blocking of access to computer data based only on prima facie evidence, we are still dismayed with SC upholding the constitutionality of  4(c)(1) which is cybersex, 4(c)(4) which is cyberlibel, and section 6 which would increase the penalty to both offenses to one degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code,” said Nica Dumlao, Internet Rights coordinator of FMA. “These provisions are oppressive, susceptible to abuse, and against the fundamental liberties guaranteed by the constitution.”

Section 4(c)(1), which is the cybersex provision as the law states is “the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration”

Section 4(c)(4), which is cyberlibel is “the unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

“Because of its overly broad and vague definition on cybersex, the law will just be used to further perpetrate abuse on women and will even criminalize victim-survivors trapped in cyber prostitution dens,” added Lisa Garcia, Take Back the Tech Philippines campaign coordinator. Take Back the Tech is a global campaign to utilize technology to address violence against women (VAW).

FMA added that “they are worried that with the SC upholding the constitutionality of criminal libel online, those who try to advocate for reforms in the government by expressing discontent or by exposing corruption might be harassed and gagged by powerful and guilty politicians.”

“We believe that human rights being enjoyed offline should also be protected online and with the SC not standing by this rights framework is problematic,” Dumlao reiterated. RA 10175 or what we call Cyber Martial Law restrict rather than protect and promote internet freedom. It imposes limits on legitimate online activities and even criminalizes the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) instead of harnessing it.

FMA commits to exhaust all possible avenues to ensure that human rights on the internet will be upheld and not violated by repressive policies such as this law. We will continue to fight for Internet Freedom alongside stakeholders for a truly democratic and developed nation.

For more information, contact Nica Dumlao – ndumlao@fma.ph, +63915 979 28 94

25 February, 2014
For Immediate Release

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