Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gaza : The grave violations of human rights

Gaza: ARTICLE 19 Condemns the Israeli Military's Continued Targeting of
Media Personnel in Gaza and Supports International Calls for a UN
investigation into the Attacks

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns Israel’s continued unlawful attacks on Gaza, including the shelling on January 15 of a United Nations compound containing essential aid supplies and the targeting of a building hosting several media offices, resulting in the injury of two media professionals. In an escalation of Israeli attacks on media professionals, a missile or shell hit a Gaza tower block home to Reuters and other international media organizations on January
The 13th floor of al-Shurouq Tower struck the offices of Abu Dhabi television injuring one of its journalists and a Reuters cameraman.

ARTICLE 19 also strongly condemns Israel’s detention of two Palestinian journalists working for the Iranian Al-Alam television station in Ramallah on January 5, 2009.
Hadir Shaheen 34, and Mohammed Sarhan, 26 were arrested in Jerusalem on charges of broadcasting information on the deployment of Israeli soldiers into Gaza which was subject to ‘military censorship.’

More than 1000 Palestinians have so far been killed and more than 5000 are injured. Among the killed, more than 300 are children and hundreds more are wounded.

The continuous ban of foreign media entering the Gaza strip and the severe attacks on media personnel in Gaza is evidence of the Israeli authorities’ determined attempts to control and manage the news coming out of Gaza.
“The denial of access to Gaza for journalists prevents the important circulation of essential information on the plight of those most in need” said Dr. Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director.
“History and experience have stressed the importance of protecting a free flow of information about conflict situations so as to expose any abuses that may occur and create a climate in which the conflicts may be resolved. Media freedom must be respected, not restricted, if peace is to be won” added Dr. Callamard.

Media workers benefit from the full protection granted by international humanitarian law to civilians, in both international and non-international armed conflicts. Journalists are considered civilians under Article 79 of Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, provided they do not do anything or behave in any way that might compromise this status. Any deliberate attack on a journalist that causes death or serious physical injury is a major breach of this Protocol and deemed a war crime.

This protection under the Geneva Convention was reiterated by Security Council

ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UQ
Tel: (+44) 20 7278 9292 / Fax: (+44) 20 7278 7660
Web: http://www.article19.org/ / Email: info@article19.org
Resolution 1738 concerning the protection of journalists and media personnel in conflict zones.
ARTICLE 19 supports urgent international calling for a UN-led investigation into a range of attacks in which civilians were killed or injured, and civilian buildings were destroyed.

ARTICLE 19 in particular calls for the international investigation to include the targeting of media professionals in Gaza and the shelling of media buildings. A19 calls on the international community to implement UN Human Rights Council resolution (A/HRC/S-9/L.2) adopted on January 12, 2009, which, among other matters calls for “Free access of media to areas of conflict through media corridors” into Gaza

· For more information: please contact Hoda Rouhana, Programme Officer for Middle East and North Africa, hoda@article19.org, +44 20 7278 9292

· The 47-member United National Human Rights Council adopted the resolution, with 33 voting in favour, 1 against and 13 abstentions, as it concluded its ninth special session which discussed “the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip”. The resolution called for an “immediate cessation of Israeli military attacks throughout the Palestinian Occupied Territory, in particularly in the Occupied Gaza Strip that have resulted, thus far, in the killing of more than 1000 and the injury to more than 4000 Palestinians, including a large number of women and children. It also called for an “end to the launching of the crude rockets against Israeli civilians that resulted in the loss of 4 civilian lives and some injuries.”


· The Security Council resolution adopted on Thursday January 8th 2009, by a vote of 14-0, with the U.S. abstaining, "stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

· The Security Council adopted resolution on 1737 on 23 December 2006. Full text:

· ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

United Kingdom : Submission on libel law reform

United Kingdom : Submission on libel law reform
ARTICLE 19 has provided a Submission to the Inquiry into press standards,
privacy and libel being undertaken by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee
of the UK Parliament. The Committee is looking into possible reform of the UK’s
libel and privacy laws. The ARTICLE 19 Submission identifies problems in four
key areas, namely jurisdiction over cases, standards of liability, damages and
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee announced on 18 November 2008 that it was conducting an inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel, and calling for submissions. Among other things, the Committee is looking at the relationship between press reporting and the UK libel laws and the impact of conditional fee arrangements (no-win no-fee arrangements with lawyers) on press freedom.

The ARTICLE 19 Submission highlights a number of key issues in relation to UK libel law, with a particular focus on the impact of these laws on advocacy NGOs. Among other things, the Submission recommends:
_ To prevent the UK from remaining a ‘libel tourism’ destination, rules should
be put in place so that UK courts may only consider defamation cases where
there is a substantial connection between the statements in question and the
_ Defamation defendants should benefit from a more generous ‘reasonable
publication’ defence, in line with the practice in many other democracies.
_ More stringent limitations should be placed on defamation damage awards and
more emphasis should be given in this context to non-pecuniary remedies.
_ Conditional fee arrangements in defamation cases should either be prohibited
altogether or subjected to stringent conditions.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the UK Parliament to take the necessary steps to give effect to these recommendations.


· For more information, please contact Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel,
a19law@hfx.eastlink.ca, +1 902 431-3688.

· ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.