Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Proposed Electoral Law Restricts Internet Freedom

For immediate release – 14 September 2009

Brazil: Proposed Electoral Law Restricts Internet Freedom

Proposed reform of the Brazilian electoral rules, part of broader reforms in this area being debated by the Senate, would subject internet media to the same rules as traditional broadcasters during electoral campaigns. ARTICLE 19 calls on Brazilian legislators to respect freedom of the internet by rejecting these proposals.

The proposed amendment to Law 9.054/1997, which regulates electoral campaigns, were put forward by Senator Eduardo Azeredo. The proposals would prohibit internet providers and the websites of media outlets, during a three-month period prior to an election, from focusing on a specific candidate unless there is a “journalistic reason” for doing so. Instead, these outlets would have to guarantee the presence of at least two-thirds of the candidates in any video or audio coverage of the elections. Furthermore, only presidential candidates would be allowed to publish paid advertising on the Internet. Breach of these rules could lead to a fine of R$5,000 to R$30,000 (USD2,700 to 16,300).

Blogs, personal websites and social networks would not be subject to these rules and would be allowed to publish information about candidates, although not anonymously. National elections in Brazil will take place in October 2010. The new electoral law needs to be approved by 2 October 2009 to be applied during the next elections.

These rules unduly restrict freedom of expression on the internet, which should not be treated in a similar manner to a broadcaster due to very important differences between these two mediums. The Internet has played an important role in elections in many countries, as demonstrated effectively by the Obama presidential campaign.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Brazilian Congress to respect freedom of the internet, especially considering the importance of a public debate during electoral campaigns, by rejecting these proposed amendments to the electoral law.


• For more information please contact: Mila Molina,, +55 11 3057 0042

ARTICLE 19 Provides Analysis of Broadcasting Law

For immediate release – 11 September 2009

Montenegro: ARTICLE 19 Provides Analysis of Broadcasting Law

ARTICLE 19 has produced a Note analysing the Montenegrin draft Law on Electronic Media. The Note recognises that the draft Law has a number of positive features, but also highlights some shortcomings, including the lack of clarity as to where responsibility for licensing broadcasters lies, along with the fact that broadcasters are required to go through two licensing processes.

The draft Law on Electronic Media is part of a series of legal and other reforms in the area of telecommunications and broadcasting regulation in Montenegro, some of which have been the subject of earlier ARTICLE 19 analyses.

The Note highlights, among others, the following concerns with the draft Law:

The lack of clarity as to responsibility for licensing broadcasters as between the broadcast regulator established by the draft Law and the telecommunications regulator

The failure of the law to set out clear criteria for allocating licences

The failure of the law to recognise community broadcasting

Inadequate provisions in the law on how the system of complaints it envisages would work in practice

The independence of the proposed regulator could be improved by not providing for one member to be nominated by a minister and through more robust sources of funding

The system of sanctions unduly promotes the most extreme sanction – licence revocation – at the expense of a more graduated approach to sanctions.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Montenegrin authorities to ensure that the law that is ultimately adopted is in line with international standards in this area.


• The Submission is available at:
• The draft law is available at:
• For more information please contact: Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel,, +1 902 431-3688.
• ARTICLE 19 prepared an analysis of draft amendments to the Law on Public Service Broadcasting in September 2008, available at:

Afghanistan: ARTICLE 19 Calls for Investigation into Journalist’s Death

15 September 2009

Afghanistan: ARTICLE 19 Calls for Investigation into Journalist’s Death

ARTICLE 19 calls for an immediate investigation into the death of Afghan journalist Sultan Munadi. He was shot dead on 9 September during an armed raid by British-led NATO forces to rescue him and British journalist Steven Farrell.

Sultan Munadi and Steven Farrell had been kidnapped and held captive by the Taliban in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz since 5 September. At the time, Sultan Munadi had been working as a fixer and interpreter for Farrell, who was investigating the NATO air attack on two fuel tankers which had been hijacked by Taliban militants. Media reports suggested that the air strike had killed many people, including many civilians.

At dawn on 9 September, British-led NATO forces raided the place where Taliban militants were holding Farrell and Munadi. Although Steven Farrell was rescued, Sultan Munadi was killed in the gunfire. One British NATO soldier and two civilians were also killed.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the rescue of Steven Farrell and supports the decision of journalists like him to undertake such investigations, which are clearly in the public interest, provided they are confident about their personal safety and that of their local colleagues. However, ARTICLE 19 is profoundly saddened by Sultan Munadi’s death, which raises serious questions about the safety of Afghan journalists employed by foreign media organisations in Afghanistan and the extent to which international forces are committed to protecting their right to life. ARTICLE 19 emphasises the importance of finding out how Sultan Munadi was killed during the rescue raid not only for his family but also because a lack of credible information and accountability may lead to rumours, misrepresentation and further mistrust of international forces in Afghanistan. This may exacerbate tensions and fuel the armed conflict.

ARTICLE 19 emphasises that NATO-led forces and the Afghan government must respect international human rights law by inter alia ensuring protection against arbitrary killings. Possible violations of the right to life in Afghanistan that involve NATO-led forces need to be investigated under Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ARTICLE 19 also reminds states contributing to the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan that they should comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian law related to the protection of civilians,, including journalists and other media professionals.

In particular, ARTICLE 19 emphasises the obligations upon states to respect and ensure respect for Article 79 of the Additional Protocol I, regarding the protection of journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict. We also call attention to UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on attacks against journalists in conflict situations. The latter emphasises “the responsibility of States to comply with the relevant obligations under international law to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

ARTICLE 19 also recalls the UNESCO Charter for the Safety of Journalists Working in War Zones or Dangerous Areas which states that “isks to be taken by staff or freelance journalists, their assistants, local employees and support personnel require adequate preparation, information, insurance and equipment” and that “ditors should beware of exerting any kind of pressure on special correspondents to take additional risks.”


ARTICLE 19 urges the NATO-led forces and the Afghan government to:
• Ensure that the killing of Sultan Munadi is promptly and thoroughly investigated, and if a violation of applicable international human rights law and/or humanitarian law is found as a result, that the responsible parties are made accountable
• Exercise due diligence and protect the human rights of everyone under their jurisdiction, in particular both Afghan and non-Afghan journalists, including their rights to life, liberty and security of person, and freedom of expression
• Ensure that all attacks against journalists, as well as other abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, are promptly and thoroughly investigated and that those suspected of carrying out or ordering such actions, as well as those organising or assisting in such actions, are brought to justice, according to procedures that meet international standards of due process
• Ensure that all operations by NATO-led forces against armed groups, such as the Taliban, comply with applicable international human rights and humanitarian law, in particular the prohibition on attacks against civilians and other non-combatants (including journalists), indiscriminate attacks, torture and ill-treatment, excessive use of force and arbitrary detention.

ARTICLE 19 urges media organisations operating in Afghanistan to:
• Properly train their journalists and media professionals operating in Afghanistan – whether they are international, local or freelance – in safety procedures in situations of armed conflict
• Ensure that these journalists and media professionals have adequate insurance cover for illness, injury and death
• Support the establishment of a solidarity fund to compensate the families of journalists who have been killed whilst practicing their profession in Afghanistan, where insurance is insufficient or non-existent.

ARTICLE calls on The New York Times to:
• Ensure that Sultan Munadi’s family receives all necessary financial support for their loss and the damage suffered as a result of Munadi’s death. Such support must take into account the drastic loss of income resulting from his death and the material well-being of the family, including education of his children.


• For more information please contact: Dr Sejal Parmar, Senior Legal Officer, +44 20 7324 2500