Arab NGOs Warn against “Regional Media Freedom Mechanism” Project under the umbrella of the Arab League of States
28-04-2016

The undersigned Arab Human Rights organizations denounce the persistence of the International Federation Journalists (IFJ) to proceed, in collaboration with the Federation of Arab Journalists, to establish a “Regional Media Freedom Mechanism in the Arab region” under the League of Arab States.

The International Federation of Journalists alleges that this mechanism is similar to the “international and regional mechanisms that were proven efficient, like the United Nations mechanism to support freedom of the media and expression, the African Union, the European Security and Cooperation Organization, and the Organization of American States”.

The International Federation of Journalists initiated in 2014 a so-called “consultative process” about this initiative. This process which was made public recently raises the following observations:

  • First: the process refrains from acknowledging that the international and regional mechanisms, whether the United Nation mechanism, the African Union, or the Organization of American States, are mainly concerned with the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, without any dissociation of rights and freedoms emanating from it like the media freedom, which is considered as an integral part of freedom of opinion and expression.
  • Second: the process ignores the universality of the right of freedom of opinion and expression and their connection to other rights and freedoms, especially the right to media freedom, knowledge, and circulation of information.
  • Third: the process neglects the importance of the principles of independence, neutrality, objectivity, and the eradication of the double standards, when dealing with human rights, issues according to the resolution 60/251 of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted on March 15th, 2006 concerning the Human Rights Council
  • Fourth: the process highlights the possibility of incubating this mechanism by the League of Arab States, or by certain affiliated organizations. The Arab League and these organizations are systematically implementing decisions and instructions emanating from political regimes considered to be the worst worldwide, as far as abiding by the right to freedom of opinion and expression, according to all local, regional, and international indicators.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the Arab Charter on Human Rights approved by the League of Arab States in 2004 violates the fundamental principles of the international law related to freedom of opinion and expression, given that article 32 allows restrictions to freedom of opinion and expression that contradict all relevant international conventions, especially article 19 of the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In addition to the repressive legacy of decisions and principles approved by the Council of Arab Ministers of Information under the umbrella of the League of Arab States, especially the document titled “Principles of Regulating Satellite Radio and Television Broadcasting in the Arab Region” adopted in 2008, which is the worst decision taken by a regional government body in this regards.

The undersigned Arab Human Rights organizations, after studying the content of this project that poses a serious threat to freedom of expression and of the media; and neglects the international standards for human rights while claiming to be inspired by regional and international mechanisms that has the structural and procedural and judicial guarantees, which assure the objectivity, neutrality and independence of decision-making, contrary to what is the case of the League of Arab States,

  • First: warns against the threat stemming from this project that lacks the objective conditions to protect media freedom in the region, currently under unprecedented savage attacks, and condemns continuous IFJ determination to impose it.
  • Second: call on civil society organizations committed to protecting the Arab citizens’ right to free media that would abide by ethical standards to promptly take action and discuss best ways and effective mechanisms to efficiently to efficiently protect this right, the ignorance of which would have a damaging effect on peoples’ lives and freedom and their children future.

The international Federation of Journalists initiated the “regional media freedom mechanism in the Arab region” project in 2004, without consulting or coordinating with Arab human rights organizations known for their participation in the struggle against autocratic rule and for the protection of the independence of their decision-making.

 

Signatories of the organizations:

- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

- Maharat Foundation

- The Moroccan Association for Human Rights

- Freedom Now Association, Morocco

-Moroccan Association for investigative journalism

- Tunisian Association of Democratic Women

- Tunisian Human Rights League

- Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights

- Tunis Centre for Freedom of the Press

-Beity Organization, Tunisia

- Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia

- Federal Tunisian Citizenship between the two Shores

- Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, Tunisia

- Tunisian Association against Torture

-Tunisian Association for the Defense of University Values

- Association of Tunisians in France

- European Maghreb Network for Citizenship and Culture

- Arab Center for Media Freedom, Development and Research