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Free expression groups gathering in Montevideo, Uruguay, last week for the General Meeting (GM) of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) pledged to confront free expression violations in seven areas of the world. Through joint statements, IFEX members and other GM participants made the following calls for action:

Grave press freedom and free expression violations continue on a massive scale in many countries in Africa. IFEX member Journalist in Danger (Journaliste en danger, JED) in the Democratic Republic of Congo has received numerous death threats over the past three years. IFEX members demand that the African governments and groups in armed conflict guarantee the safety of all journalists. In a statement, 25 members and partners also reaffirm support for the Network of African Free Expression Organizations (NAFEO), for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) campaign to release all jailed African journalists and for the Declaration of Table Mountain to reform media laws that allow the imprisonment of journalists.
- Declaration of Table Mountain:
An unknown number of journalists - perhaps more than a dozen - have been arrested. Japanese reporter Kenji Nagai was killed. The Internet was shut down. The effects of the recent military crackdown in Burma on the media have been well documented in recent issues of the "IFEX Communiqué". In a statement, 25 IFEX members call on Burmese authorities, and all countries worldwide, to push for a reopening of all lines of communication and media within and into the country. Members and partners created a Burma Action Group last week at IFEX's GM in Montevideo.
Just last month, five editors were each sentenced to a year in jail. Cases of journalists being harassed through the courts and sent to prison have increased tremendously over the past few years. In a joint action, 41 IFEX members and other organisations call for an end to the jailing of journalists for simply expressing their critical views of the government.
In August, the Supreme Court ordered "Time" magazine to pay former president Suharto a whopping three trillion Rupiahs (US$110 million) for a story that accused him and his family of amassing a fortune during his rule. Twenty-three IFEX members and partners expressed solidarity with "Time" to fight against the ruling.
A big theme at this year's General Meeting was the detrimental impact of "poderes paralelos" (parallel powers), forces that act outside the rule of law, on free expression. In a joint statement, 35 IFEX members and partners offer support to Latin American organisations that are developing a regional initiative on the issue, and are demanding that regional governments take concrete legal actions to guarantee the right to free expression of journalists, media and citizens.
Ongoing violence in Sri Lanka has put journalists directly in the line of fire, especially those working in Tamil-language media and in conflict zones in the north and east. Jointly, 32 IFEX members demand that the government, paramilitary and armed groups end attacks on media workers, desist from interfering in editorial independence, stop their open hostility to journalists, and amend or revoke damaging press laws, particularly emergency and anti-terrorism legislation.
Lawyer and human rights activist Mohamed Abbou, jailed more than two years for exposing torture in Tunisian prisons on the Internet, has been released but was told that he is banned from traveling. Meanwhile, journalist Abdallah Zouari has been living in internal exile for his work with the now-defunct Islamic newspaper "Al-Fajr". Zouari has spent 11 years in prison and more than five years under virtual house arrest nearly 500 km from his wife and children. In a joint statement, 23 IFEX members and partners call on the Tunisian government to allow both men to move freely.
During the IFEX business sessions, Karin Karlekar of Freedom House was re-elected as IFEX Convenor, and new members joined the IFEX Council from around the world. For more information on the general meeting, please see
- Last week's "IFEX Communiqué":
- The agenda:
Or contact: ifex(at)ifex(dot)org


The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) welcomes 10 new members into the network following a General Meeting that brought together more than 120 activists in Montevideo, Uruguay, last week. IFEX now has 81 members worldwide. The new members are:


The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has been reporting from the ground on conditions facing media workers, which have made this year the deadliest for Somali journalists - seven have been killed on the job.


The Argentine Journalism Forum (Foro de Periodismo Argentino, FOPEA) has helped develop the first federal ethical code for journalists and is now circulating it within the provinces.

The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo, ABRAJI) has more than 1,000 members hailing from almost all states and is the only IFEX member in Brazil, one of the largest countries in the world.

Mexico's Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (Centro de Periodismo y Etica Publica, CEPET) has been active in setting up and coordinating the Ni Uno Mas (Not One More) campaign in Mexico - one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world - which aims to stop the killing of journalists and prevent their murderers from going unpunished.


The oft-quoted Mizzima News, a Burmese-exile run news agency, has been instrumental in getting news out to the international community during the current military crackdown in Burma. During recent protests, hits on Mizzima News website increased tenfold to 270,000 hits a day.


The Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety (IRFS) in Azerbaijan, was founded on World Press Freedom Day (3 May) in 2006. In its brief history, IRFS has campaigned tirelessly on the frontlines for seven journalists who are in jail.

The Initiative for Freedom of Expression in Turkey uses civil disobedience tactics to campaign extensively against the country's new penal code, including the infamous Article 301, which makes "insulting Turkishness" a crime punishable by jail terms.

The Institute of Mass Information (IMI) in Ukraine is the only organisation working on access to information laws in the country, and conducts other free expression activities including training seminars and legal advocacy.


The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is the first IFEX member in the Gulf region. BCHR covers broad cases violating free expression and other human rights, despite having been officially "closed down" by the government in 2004.

Lebanon's Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation) offers skills and human rights training to young, Arab journalists. The foundation is developing an observatory to monitor freedom of expression violations and is campaigning for more just media laws in Lebanon.

For more information on any of the new members, please contact ifex(at)ifex(dot)org

(Photo: Members and other representatives at IFEX's General Meeting in Uruguay. Photo courtesy of Erol Onderoglu)

(16 October 2007)

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