Exclusive hearing at the Organization of American States
In March, the Organization of American States granted IFEX-ALC, the regional alliance of IFEX members in Latin America and the Caribbean, an exclusive hearing on the topic of impunity. This was the network’s first formal intervention on impunity at the Inter American System on Human Rights, and included the presentation of their regional analysis of impunity and the right to freedom of expression and recommendations, which was welcomed by the commissioners.
Voices united in support of a human rights defender
On 24 May, our colleague Nabeel Rajab, human rights activist and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was released after completing a two-year prison sentence. IFEX united with other organisations in a 10-day countdown campaign, widely promoted over social media, demanding that the Bahraini authorities honour the release date. In a thank you letter, Nabeel expressed his appreciation for the work of the IFEX network on his behalf. IFEX also supported BCHR’s advocacy at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in June, which was followed by the release of a joint statement on Bahrain by 47 UN member states, including the United States and the United Kingdom, strongly condemning the harassment and imprisonment of persons exercising their rights to free expression.
Right to information in Africa: A Game-Changing Report
In September, IFEX member Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) released an extensively researched report: The State of Right to Information in Africa. It’s had a big impact; Mozambique has adopted some of its recommendations, including a right to information law, and Uganda and Malawi have indicated they will implement the report’s recommendations. AFIC successfully lobbied members of the United Nations Human Rights Council when Angola was undergoing a periodic review, urging the Angolan government to amend and strengthen the country’s freedom of information law and promote citizens’ rights to information. The report is also being used as an educational and advocacy tool, and it sparked the idea of a 3-part IFEX podcast series on the critical issue of access to information in Africa.
Targeting Impunity and holding governments to account
On 2 November, the first ever UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists was held, offering an opportunity for IFEX and scores of individual member organisations to shine a spotlight on an issue that has such a devastating impact on the right to freedom of expression and information around the world. We created an infographic and other resources to help broaden awareness of some specific UN mechanisms designed to combat impunity, and worked as a network to directly lobby governments. The campaign garnered high-level attention and responses from governments, UN Permanent Missions and other UN bodies.
Commemorating a tragedy, demanding justice
On 23 November, to mark the 5th anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines and in collaboration with IFEX members in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region, we sent out a global call to participate in a digital action to “Tweet for Justice”. Individuals from all over the world sent messages of solidarity to the families of the 58 victims. Thanks to the pro bono support of the award-winning design team at Juniper Park, their tweets appeared on an interactive “digital wall” at various candlelight vigils held in the Philippines and around the world. With every tweet using #ampatuanmassacre, the projected faces of those killed in the massacre glowed brighter, showing real-time support and outrage worldwide for these unpunished crimes. You can watch a video of the event here.