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ARTICLE 19 LAUNCHES DEFAMATION MAP

Does your country have criminal defamation and other insult laws on the books? Does it use them to silence critics, by throwing them in jail or penalising them with heavy fines? Find out how your country rates with ARTICLE 19's new defamation mapping tool.

The picture is shocking. Of the 168 countries surveyed, 158 have criminal defamation laws. ARTICLE 19 says, "Ninety-four percent of the world's countries are subjected to laws that human rights defenders the world over have condemned as inappropriate, abusive, and misused." More than 130 countries have laws that give special protection to the most powerful figures in public life.

Surprisingly, small countries, like Ghana, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Bosnia Herzegovina, Estonia and Georgia, have eliminated criminal defamation altogether.

The tool also charts the number of people imprisoned in each country for defamation since January 2005 - at least 146 so far, with Iran, Uzbekistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo leading the pack.

Also check out the human stories profiling cases from each region - like how Al Jazeera journalist Howaida Taha was given six months in prison for making a documentary on torture in Egypt, or how Turkish journalist Rojda Kizgin is being tried for "degrading security forces" for reporting that soldiers were using grenades for fishing.

Then help keep the map up to date by sharing information you have on new cases, legal changes and campaigning successes on the "Submit Info" page.

Check out the defamation mapping tool here: http://www.article19.org/advocacy/defamationmap/map/

(18 December 2007)

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