10 August 1999
Volume 08 - 1999 Issue 30 (10 August 1999)
The Norwegian Authors Union has awarded its 1999 Freedom of Expression Prize to Peruvian writer and human rights activist Yehude Simon Munaro, reports the Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression (NFFE). The prize will be awarded to Simon in Castro Castro Prison in Lima, where he has been imprisoned since June 1992. He is to receive the prize "because he, throughout his lifetime, via his pen and his political actions, has fought for greater justice, and for openness and democracy in his country, and for human rights to be respected," says NFFE. Simon is the author of a poetry collection "Habla una vez mas", and a collection of short stories, "El pasajero y otros cuentos", which gives "accounts in fictional form of the hellish experience of the loneliness of the prison cell, and of tragic prison fates," according to NFFE. In addition, Simon, who is also a veterinarian and lecturer, has written a number of books and articles on the conditions of poor farm workers in his country. He has also played a role in politics and represented the United Left Political Front in parliament, where he was a member of the Parliamentary Justice and Human Rights Commission.
The African Women's Media Center (AWMC), a project of the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), has published two useful guides for women journalists. The "Resource Directory for Women Journalists" was developed by the Dakar-based AWMC, established in 1997, to provide "a host of resources critical to women seeking to strengthen their skills as journalists and to enhance their professional standing within the media," says the AWMC. It lists national, regional and women's media associations in Africa, along with international press freedom and media groups. It also contains listings of training, fellowship, Internet and career resources. The directory was created "because women are often excluded from informal networks within newsrooms, and from access to information about training and resources." It serves as "a vehicle to link women to the institutions and opportunities that can offer them support, training, knowledge and connections."
An Internet censorship bill in Australia is "the most draconian to date in the developed world," according to Danny Yee in the latest issue of "Index on Censorship" (Vol. 4/1999). The Internet Services Providers (ISPs): the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Bill 1999 was passed by the Senate in May. Danny Yee writes that the bill will come into force on 1 January 2000. The bill will allow film and video classifications to be used on the Internet "on the grounds that the Internet is like pay television and should be regulated accordingly," says "Index". The Australian Broadcasting Authority, which regulates TV content, will also regulate the Internet. "ISPs will be required to take down prohibited content hosted within Australia and to block access to it if located overseas," says Yee. Content will be blocked if it "offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults," or if it "instructs" on criminal or violent matters. While Yee says access will be doubtlessly limited to many users, "the machinations of government are no match for the ingenuity of serious netheads."
In the latest threat to free expression in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), two journalists were flogged, according to Reporters sans frontières (RSF). On 26 July, Jean Marie Kashila, a journalist with the Congolese Press Agency (Agence congolaise de presse, ACP), and Bienvenu Tshiela of Kasaï Horizon radio-télévision (KHRT) were flogged by police officers in the city of Mbuji-Mayi, in Kasaï province. The police officers allegedly acted on orders from Kalala Kaniki, the province's vice-governor, who accused the journalists of having criticised him in a number of articles and reports. Last year, RSF says, Kaniki ordered the flogging of another journalist, Robert Ndaye Tshisense.
According to a new report by Reporters sans frontières (RSF), 45 countries restrict Internet access and 20 of them may be termed "real enemies" of the medium. RSF calls the following 20 countries "enemies of the Internet because they control access totally or partially, have censored websites or taken action against users." They are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Central Asia and the Caucasus, along with nearby Belarus. In Asia, Burma, China, North Korea and Vietnam are cited. In the Middle East and North Africa, RSF highlights Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, along with Sierra Leone and Sudan in the rest of Africa. In Latin America, RSF singles out Cuba.