Joint Open Forum EBU, CoE, OSCE: Safety of online media actors

Meeting type: 
Open Forum
Meeting Description: 

Update 24-10-2012
Media freedom and freedom of expression on the Internet are increasingly under threat. In June 2012 the freedom of expression rapporteurs of the UN, the OSCE, the OAS and the African Union together with Article 19 and the Centre for Law and Democracy saw the need to adopt a joint declaration on crimes against journalists; resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, particularly freedom of expression, has been adopted by consensus at the Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Moreover, the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity has been endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board, the highest level coordination mechanism of the UN system.
All these initiatives show that -with the evolution of the Internet- the scope of media has expanded considerably. We no longer can focus only on the traditional media, i.e. printed press, radio and TV. Today, the notion of media brings together and merges traditional offline media and on-line means of communication over the Internet, the so-called new media tools that include; social networks etc. As new media may be extremely powerful in countries in transition towards fundamental freedoms and democracy, as the Arabic spring clearly showed us, freedom of expression is facing new challenges.
The development of new forms of media is rapid and there is a need to discuss and find solutions to a number of new issues related thereto. The safety and protection of a variety of media professionals and media actors which go beyond the definitions of classical journalists, is certainly a major concern. Against this background, the Forum will address issues relating to safety of on line media actors. This will cover questions, such as: What are the safety issues? Who needs to be protected and how?
To what extent do existing international instruments, standards and best practices apply?  and are they effectively implemented?  Do professional rules and ethics of traditional media apply to non-traditional online media actors?  If not, how do we protect the unprotected?  What is the way forward? What can be done by states, civil society, the media industry and international organizations?
The forum will also be framed by the following topics, that are both considered as essential pre-conditions to guarantee pluralism of the media in any country:
- Internet based media : differences, impact and special needs compared to traditional media
- Positive obligations upon states to protect media professionals

  • Status of media professionals, citizen journalists, bloggers, etc ;
  • Status of foreign media professionals;
  • Safety of media professionals, during elections, in times of crises etc.;
  • Protection of sources;
  • Means of protection against various forms of harassment;
  • Respect of on-line anonymity;
  • Ethics - regulation & self regulation;
  • Education and training

 
Structure of the Forum:
Opening
Key Note speech
Round-table one : Internet based media and safety of journalists
Key Note speech
Round table two : Positive obligations of the states and supranational bodies to ensure safety of journalists
Conclusions

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[1] http://www.osce.org/fom/91595
[2] FOOTNOTE ABOUT BACKGROUND MATERIAL:
Extensive work has been is carried out by international organisations in respect of the safety and protection of journalists. Taking stock of this and linking the standards to the new media players would appear as a crucial task for the future. E.g. EBU’s 2010 Which has to be the behavior of Internet intermediaries  and their responsibilities towards citizen and authorities ?
This discussion is made within a constructive spirit to try to improve the existing level of guarantees for freedom of media and freedom of expression within the country and all actors related to that will be invited. This workshop will be part of the series of action that EBU is committed to do following its ‘Declaration on freedom of expression, media independence and democracy’, UN Inter-agency action plan on the safety of journalists, CoE standards on a new notion of media, EC’s ‘No Disconnect’ Strategy, OSCE media and Internet freedom work, reports of the UN Special Rapporteur, the work of OAS, etc).

Links to the relevant documents:
 
EBU ‘Declaration on freedom of expression, media independence and democracy’
http://www.ebu.ch/CMSimages/en/Declaration_freedom_expression_2julydoc_tcm6-68197.pdf
HRC Resolution:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session20/Pages/ResDecStat.aspx
OSCE and OSCE Office of the RFoM
Budapest CSCE Summit Declaration (1994), Chapter VIII, Freedom of expression/Free media
http://www.osce.org/mc/39554
Joint Declarations with the Freedom of Expression Rapporteurs of the UN, the OSCE, the OAS and the ACHPR:
Joint declaration on crimes against freedom of expression: http://www.osce.org/fom/91595
Joint declaration on Freedom of Expression and the Internet: http://www.osce.org/fom/78309
Joint Declaration on Ten Key Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the Next Decade:  http://www.osce.org/fom/41439
Study of legal provisions and practices related to freedom of expression, the free flow of information and media pluralism on the Internet in OSCE participating States http://www.osce.org/fom/80723
Vilnius Recommendations on Safety of Journalists, 8 June 2011 http://www.osce.org/cio/78522
Yearbook 13, 2011: http://www.osce.org/fom/89307
Internet Freedom –Why it matters?: http://www.osce.org/fom/86003
 
 
CoE standards on a new notion of media,
http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/media/doc/New_Notion_Media_en.pdf
 
EC’s ‘No Disconnect’ Strategy,
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/1525&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/fire/events/evwsfirends_en.html
 
UNESCO:
1 UN Action Plan on Safety of Journalists at below link:
http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/official_documents/un_plan_action_safety_en.pdf
2 UNESCO Internet freedom publication “Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet”(in English and French)
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/resources/publications-and-communication-materials/publications/full-list/freedom-of-connection-freedom-of-expression-the-changing-legal-and-regulatory-ecology-shaping-the-internet/
WPFD - World Press Freedom Day - The Carthage Declaration (3 May 2012): http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/WPFD/carthage_declaration_2012_en.pdf
WPFD - The Washington Declaration (3 May 2011): http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/WPFD/WPFD2011/Washington%20Declaration%202011.pdf
 
reports of the UN Special Rapporteur
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Opinion/A.66.290.pdf
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.23.pdf
 
the work of OAS
http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/expression/docs/reports/annual/2012%2003%2021%20Annual%20Report%20RELE%202011pirnting.pdf
 

Report
Reported by: 
Guy Berger and Giacomo Mazzone
A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised: 

DRAFT VERSION (currently under revision from the partners)
Update 30-11-2012
REPORT FROM OPEN FORUM ON SAFETY OF ON-LINE JOURNALISTS TO THE MAIN SESSION ON SOP
Session title: Safety of online media actors: as a precondition for media pluralism and freedom of expression.
MODERATOR: Jonathan Charles, former BBC World News presenter and foreign correspondent. Now director of Communications at EBRD
SPEAKERS:

  • Guy Berger, UNESCO’S Director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development
  • Jim Boumelha, IFJ's President (remote participant)
  • William Echikson, Google’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs for Free Expression in Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • Eynulla Fatullayev, winner of the 2012 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
  • Johan Hallenborg, Deputy Director, Department for International Law, Human Rights and Treaty Law , Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Swedish government
  • Jānis Kārkliņš, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO
  • Neelie Kroes , EU Commissioner and European Commission Vice President
  • Giacomo Mazzone, Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union
  • Christian Mihr, Executive Director of Reporters without Borders German Chapter (remote participant)
  • Dunja Mijatovic, Representative on Freedom of the Media, OSCE
  • Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe
  • Lionel Veer, Ambassador for Human Rights of The Netherlands
  • Sabine Verheyen, Member of the European Parliament

GENERAL  ISSUES
The context of this session is that freedom of expression is part of a delicate ecosystem: when the freedom of expression in the online world suffers, this has a negative impact on society more broadly. Among those adversely affected are traditional media, including those which still include services on offline platforms (such as public service broadcasters), because control of free speech online can restrict one of the most and pervasive new sources for news.
Adding to this, Eynulla Fatullayev (UNESCO 2012 winner of the Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize) pointed out in the session that when traditional media are under tight control or facing corruption or intimidation of journalists, citizen journalism has to take the lead and the Internet therefore needs to remain a platform where freedom of expression can thrive.
European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes pointed out that violations of freedom of expression are linked to violations of other rights.  From Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, came the point that free speech online required that citizens raised their level of tolerance of divergent voices, even those that were vulgar or tasteless.
Participants heard about the UN Inter-Agency Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, from UNESCO director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Guy Berger. He said that attacks on websites, arbitrary blocking and filtering, prosecution for legitimate online speech, unjustified surveillance, electronic death-threats and ultimately, murder, were among the threats to free expression online.
UNESCO Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, Janis Karklins, pointed out that because of the evolution of technology, there was a need to continuously revise assumptions about online safety for journalists. He said there was need to sensitise governments worldwide to the issues. Comments from the floor proposed that journalists should not be too narrowly identified as this could lead to licensing, and suggestions that the 23rd November as the International Day of Action
Indeed, in his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, highlighted that when addressing issues relating to the safety and protection of online media actors, consideration should be given not only to journalists in the formal sense, but also to those who act in the public interest by stimulating debate, exposing maladministration, etc. The Commissioner also underlined that the safety of online media actors is intimately linked with the protection of the Internet itself as an open space for the exercise of the right to receive and impart information,  free from breaches of privacy or disproportionate or arbitrary controls.
On the point of anonymity Google said it would do its utmost to protect this, but stressed that at the same time online users needed to assume a certain public responsibility for what they say.
 
RELEVANT DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THIS EVENT:
http://www3.ebu.ch/cms/fr/sites/ebu/contents/frontpage-news/news-2012/11/igf-2012-end-criminalized-free-s.html

Conclusions and further comments: 

DRAFT VERSION (currently under revision from the partners)
Update 30-11-2012
THE AGENDA OF NEXT MONTHS:
Council of Europe: after the adoption of the Council of Europe Internet Governance Strategy, the main work will consist in implementing it in the next years (until 2015), with a special attention to aspects concerning freedom of expression.
The UN inter-agencies initiative for safety of journalists both online and offline is a rallying point for multi-stakeholder common action especially at national levels. The next step is the implementation strategy of the UN Plan that to adopted in Vienna on Nov. 22nd and 23rd, and this will include online safety. UNESCO will publish in 2013 an handbook about safety for online for journalists, one on gender and safety, plus a report on world trends in news coverage including safety as one of the main issues.
SOME FUTURE ACTIONS:
The European Commission’s Kroes described EC strategy about online safety in terms of three main points:

  • The “no disconnect” plan of EU to assist bloggers and internet activists to use technological tools in their struggle for democracy (such as help journalists to avoid surveillance, or provide funding to fight cyber censorship);
  • EU will intervene over European companies to make them aware of the human rights implications of the technology they sell (eventually even introducing ICT export controls). Accepting in doing so a specific request raised by some Journalists organizations.
  • Repressive restriction on media freedom’s will be considered as unacceptable for EC and this principle will be implemented in all relationship of EU with the rest of the world.

This approach of European Commission is strongly supported by European Parliament which has an interest in promoting these ideas to be included in the EU future negotiations with neighbouring countries.
The Dutch government representative said his country would continue to develop and strengthen networks of independent on line journalists in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and his Swedish government counterpart pledged to continue support projects for protecting internet freedom and also to use international trade and cooperation agreements to leverage for online freedom.
The moderator of the session stressed some main demands emerging from the discussion:

  1. Need for more training extended to on line actors (beyond traditional media professionals)
  2. More implementation of protection of online journalists could be obtained by a stronger and clever use of leverage that could be used by international institutions (trade and cooperation, among others)
  3. More coordination among all concerned actors on a country by country basis, so that the same message will be delivered through multiple voices
  4. Need for new and more efficient tools for protecting anonymity of internet actors.
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was raised by one or more of the speakers as an important aspect of the session's theme
Please include any comments or recommendations you have on how to improve the inclusion of issues related to gender equality and: 

The lack of funding to invite speakers from developping countries limited the possibility to enlarge the range of women participation. we hope that in future IGF will have again the possibility and the resources to support that kind of participation.

Provide the name of the speakers and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups: 
  • Speakers: (final list of attendance)
    MODERATOR: Jonathan Charles, former BBC World News presenter and foreign correspondent. Now director of Communications at EBRD
    SPEAKERS:
    • Guy Berger, UNESCO’S Director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development   [IGO]
    • Jim Boumelha, IFJ's President (remote participant) [Civil society]
    • William Echikson, Google’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs for Free Expression in Europe, Middle East and Africa [Business community]
    • Eynulla Fatullayev, winner of the 2012 [Civil Society]UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
    • Johan Hallenborg, Deputy Director, Department for International Law, Human Rights and Treaty Law , Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Swedish government [Government]
    • Jānis Kārkliņš, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO [IGO]
    • Neelie Kroes , EU Commissioner and European Commission Vice President  [IGO/Government]
    • Giacomo Mazzone, Head of Institutional Relations, European Broadcasting Union [Media]
    • Christian Mihr, Executive Director of Reporters without Borders German Chapter (remote participant) [Civil society]
    • Dunja Mijatovic, Representative on Freedom of the Media, OSCE [IGO]
    • Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe [IGO]
    • Lionel Veer, Ambassador for Human Rights of The Netherlands [Government]
    • Sabine Verheyen, Member of the European Parliament [IGO]

 

Provide the name of the organiser(s) of the Meeting and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups: 

Joint Open Forum proposed by EBU, CoE, OSCE, UNESCO
in cooperation with IFJ, Governments of Austria, The Netherlands, Sweden and RSF

Have you organised a Meeting (Dynamic Coalition, Open Forum, Side Session) before? If yes, please provide links to report(s): 

EBU has not. CoE and UNESCO did in the past. CoE 2011: http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/components/com_chronocontact/uploads/WSPr...  

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 

grace githaiga assisted by Stephanie Borg Psaila (Diplo Foundation)

Background document: