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Know your rights: ARTICLE 19 releases regional legal resources

The appetite for change in the Middle East and North Africa provides a historic opportunity to safeguard free expression through legal reforms, says ARTICLE 19
The appetite for change in the Middle East and North Africa provides a historic opportunity to safeguard free expression through legal reforms, says ARTICLE 19

Want to know if it's okay to expose environmental hazards in your country, write a scathing critique on a government official, or set up a blog under a pseudonym, but don't know where to start? Check out ARTICLE 19's legal analyses to see at a glance the major developments in the law relating to free expression last year in four different regions: the Americas, Middle East and North Africa, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

ARTICLE 19's reports include reviews of new laws, bills, rules and Supreme Court decisions that help - and hinder - free expression.

For instance, in Latin America, Mexico, El Salvador, Peru and Jamaica took positive steps towards decriminalising defamation. Bermuda even ruled that it was unconstitutional.

In the Middle East and North Africa, ARTICLE 19 points out that transitional governments are trying to ensure free expression is guaranteed in the new constitutions. Unfortunately, existing laws "have been used as pretences to intimidate and incarcerate those exercising their rights to free expression and association," ARTICLE 19 found.

In 2011, Africa boasted substantive freedom of information wins, especially in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and across the whole region with the adoption of the African Platform on Access to Information, which guides African states about this essential right.

Meanwhile, in Asia, Burma, China and Pakistan all issued regulations restricting the right to freedom of expression on the Internet. In Burma, for instance, CDs, USB sticks and other storage devices were banned from Internet cafés. In China, users of microblogs (like Twitter) have to register using their real names. ARTICLE 19 says the regulations are likely to force citizens to censor themselves.

Access the legal analyses below.
East and Horn of Africa
West Africa
Asia-Pacific
Latin America
Middle East and North Africa

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