Activities

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WPFC ACTIVITY REPORT 2008

Activities of Mark Bench, Executive Director

  • January 11-18, Bench met with various government officials, from police chiefs in the southeastern part of Nepal to the second in command of the Maoist (Communist) political party, whose party would soon be elected to take over the leadership from King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Sha Dev, the world’s last Hindu monarch, who was forced to leave the throne on May 28 this year. Meeting with one of the top Maoist leaders, Bench asked him to clarify what he meant when he said that their new government would allow press freedom. Later in the year, when in power, the Maoists said they’ll be redefining press freedom. Bench met with widows of two journalists who had been killed by the then insurgent Maoists. The trip was led and financed by the Danish group, International Media Support (IMS), on whose web site a report of the trip is carried at: http://www.i-m-s.dk/files/publications/1318%20Nepal.web%202008.pdf 
  • In January, WPFC received a generous grant from the Knight Foundation supporting a conference to be held in Paris to prepare journalists, editors and photo editors how to overcome the censorship they would likely encounter covering the Chinese Olympic Games later in the year. The grant also provided funds for the enhancement of WPFC’s Web site and for a blog dedicated (until after the Olympic Games) to the press freedom issues surrounding the Games. (Read more)
  • In January, we wrote to the President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, congratulating him for his pardoning of 5 journalists convicted of criminal defamation, but expressed concern about the 4 additional journalists still jailed in that country. (Read more)
  • We wrote, also in January, to the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Telecommunications, Minister of Information and other Members of the Yemeni Government to join with others in international condemnation of their decision to shut down the independent Web site, www.yemenportal.net, an action that violates both Yemen’s own constitution and the most widely accepted international press freedom principles. (Read more)
  • Throughout the year, both Bench and WPFC General Counsel and Treasurer, Kevin Goldberg, met with the multi-stakeholder group (later to be called the Global Network Initiative) in New York or Washington, DC to ensure user privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet. (Read more)
  • Upon the recommendation of the International Press Institute (IPI), and on behalf of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations, the World Press Freedom Committee made a Fund Against Censorship grant to fund the legal defense of Thabo Thakalekoala, a Lesotho journalist who is unjustly imprisoned facing the death penalty. (Read more)
  • On February 19, WPFC issued a statement that the adoption of the charter “Principles for Regulating Satellite TV in the Arab World” on February 12 by the Arab League’s ministers of information is a threat to press freedom and freedom of expression everywhere, not just the Arab world. The ministers have agreed that they want to control what the world sees and hears about their countries. This charter contradicts Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The Arab League’s governments have been committed to the Universal Declaration. (Read more)
  • Mid-March, World Press Freedom Committee made a second Fund Against Censorship grant to fund the legal defense of Azerbaijan journalists Rovshen Kebirli, editor of Mukhalifet, an independent newspaper, and Yashar Agazade, a reporter of this publication. Both will take their case to the European Court of Human Rights after exhausting all domestic legal recourses. (Read more) As always, funds granted from the Fund Against Censorship are made on behalf of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations whose leadership approves the grants.
  • The conference, Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom, was held in Paris the 18 and 19 April and provided expert insight on the press freedom conditions journalists would encounter in their coverage of the Olympics in China. It was organized by a coalition of press freedom groups including the World Association of Newspapers, the World Press Freedom Committee, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights in China and Asia Presse. Conference videos of excerpts of most participants’ talks are available on www.i-times.org, the blog set up to carry information regarding the challenges journalists and bloggers were having covering the Chinese Olympic. A generous grant from the Knight Foundation made the conference possible.
  • WPFC held our Biennial meeting at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC in conjunction, as usual, with the ASNE/NAA annual conference. Attending and participating were Richard N. Winfield, former Chairman Harold Andersen, Kevin Goldberg, Javier Sierra, Robert Russell of Cartoonist Rights Network, Brian Steffens of National Newspaper Association, Curt Prendergast, Scott C. Schurz, and Leonard Sussman of Freedom House. Specially invited guests were Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation, and Joergen Ejboel, chair of JP-Politikens Hus (Denmark).
  • Bench continued to serve as chair of the Communication and Information Committee of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO representing WPFC, participating in several conference calls and one general conference in Washington, DC in May. There are 100 commissioners throughout the U.S. For more information, see: http://www.state.gov/p/io/unesco/
  • The United Nations’ Committee on Information meets yearly at U.N. Headquarters in April, and Bench covers the two-week meeting annually. This year, the usual countries’ representatives made reference to the New World of Information and Communication (a dead issue in UNESCO but not at the U.N.), but mostly, countries were concerned about the closing of regional UNESCO information centers in their countries. For further information: http://www.un.org/ga/coi/
  • Raymond Louw, WPFC’s African Representative and Bench signed on to a joint action with International Press Institute in April, protesting a Slovakian Press Act, which would enable, if signed into law, individuals, including politicians, to force newspapers to print replies to articles that have allegedly damaged their reputations. These replies would be required to be printed, whether or not the factual content of the article is in question. Replies would be required to be placed in the same position in the newspaper as the original article, and be equivalent in size to the original article. In contrast, according to the Act, newspapers would be prevented from answering the replies they were forced to print. We believe that if enacted, the Act will enable politicians to interfere with editorial policy. The abuse of this law also risks self-censorship and consequent damage to public interest values in Slovakia. (Read more)
  • Ronald Koven, WPFC’s European Representative and Bench attended the International Press Institute annual conference in Belgrade, Serbia, and in conjunction with this meeting, participated in a meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations there. This was the 55th such meeting in 27 years since its creation. We discussed the cooperation of all members of the Coordinating Committee in the international conference to prepare journalists for what they are likely to encounter in terms of censorship. The conference was held in Paris in April with the participation of WAN, CPJ, RSF, Human Rights in China and Asia Presse.
  • In early May, 15 members of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) called on the Burmese junta to allow free expression of views on the pending referendum, allowing campaigners the right to say “No.” Freedom of expression groups from Asia and around the world said a planned 10 May 2008 referendum on a new Burmese constitution was turning into a "sham", with Burma's military rulers banning campaigns against the proposed charter and threatening media less than supportive of the referendum. "Critics have been threatened with jail if they speak out against the draft or call for a boycott of the vote. Supporters of a 'No' vote are flatly banned from publication and the media has been ordered to reprint propaganda by junta officials," said Roby Alampay of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), a member of the Burma Action Group. "This is not a referendum - it is diktat." WPFC is an active member of the Burma Action Group of IFEX. (Read more)
  • In early June, WPFC wrote to Dr. Cecilia Medina Quiroga, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, congratulating the prestigious Court on its correct decision in the Kimel vs. Argentina case, in which the court ruled that the laws that protect a person’s honor in Argentina violate the American Convention on Human Rights and that Argentina must reform its legislation accordingly. WPFC expressed that the decision may have a beneficial effect on the entire region whose criminal defamation laws are similar to those in Argentina. 
  • Also in early June, WPFC wrote to President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan calling his attention to the inhumane treatment Azadlyg reporter Agil Khalil was being subjected to allegedly by officials of the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic. In at least five occasions in the past months, Mr. Khalil had been the target of physical attacks, including a stabbing that narrowly missed his heart and an attempt to push him onto train tracks. In another attack, on Feb. 21, alleged members of law enforcement agencies beat him, took his press credentials, broke his finger and tried to strangle him with his own camera, as Mr. Khalil reported to the police. (Read more)
  • On June 23, WPFC called on the United Nations and African regional organizations to suspend Zimbabwe which openly violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- especially Article 19 -- and on neighboring countries to suspend their diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe. This strong statement comes as a result of the Zimbabwe government’s ban on the distribution of 60,000 copies of the June 19 issue of the weekly independent newspaper, the Zimbabwean. The government’s crackdown on independent news sources has resulted in the people of Zimbabwe having been denied access to critical news for several years -- a prime example being the closure by the government of the Daily News. This has left most of the people reliant on government-supporting papers and electronic media which turn news into propaganda for the government. The government’s tight censorship on independent news has now been compounded by the barring from the public of the Zimbabwean and the South African papers. (Read more) 
  • June 27, Bench traveled to Washington, DC to meet with other U.S. National Commission for UNESCO commissioners, and with Kirochiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director General, and the permanent representative of the United States to UNESCO, Louise Oliver.
  • In mid-July, WPFC’s Chairman, Richard N. Winfield hosted a lunch in Manhattan for Suzanne Bilello, Senior Information Officer, UNESCO Liaison Office with the United Nations, and Bench. We discussed the possibility of UNESCO’s hosting the next meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations in New York.
  • July 15, WPFC wrote to the president of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, to congratulate him on his decision to submit a bill eliminating insult laws and decriminalizing defamation laws in his country. At the same time, we called to his attention the imperfections of the initiative. The bill still contemplates the crime of insult when it comes to “real offenses,” an extremely wide concept that leaves the door open for any public official who feels tempted to invoke these obsolete, elitist laws. Insult laws constitute an effective weapon of intimidation and repression of the free flow of ideas and expressions. (Read more)
  • On July 24, WPFC wrote to Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of the Republic of Yemen as well as his to Abubakr Al-Qirbi, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Kamal Al-Jabri, Minister of Telecommunications; Hassan Al-Lawzi, Minister of Information; and other members of the Yemeni Government to express our deep concern about the general situation of press freedom and freedom of expression in their country, including the arrest and indictment of poet and comedian Fahed al-Qarni, sentenced to a year and a half in prison and fined YR500,000 (about US$2,500). Mr. Al-Qarni was arrested on March 1 for alleged “abuse of senior public officials” and was accused of “triggering secession” and “threatening the national unity” as a result of the release of his latest work, in which he criticizes the government through humor and irony. (Read more)  
  • On July 24, WPFC announced that we had just published the companion book to its “Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom” conference held in Paris, April 18-19. The book contains presentations and comments by some of the world’s most renowned experts in the field of human rights in China, especially about press freedom and the lack thereof in that country. Such experts include Jean-Philippe Béja, Research Director of the International Relations Studies Center in Paris; Dr. Merle Goldman, Professor Emerita of History at Boston University; Gao Yu, journalist winner of UNESCO’s Annual World Press Freedom Prize; Libby Liu, President of Radio Free Asia; Richard Winfield, WPFC Chairman; Watson Meng, Founder of Boxum News, and many others. The book is available under the "Publications" tab. Printed copies of this book may be obtained by contacting WPFC at freepress@wpfc.org.
  • On July 31, WPFC expressed its deepest condemnation to Mr. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee of the Chinese government’s decision to restrict Internet access to the tens of thousands of visiting journalists covering the Beijing Olympic Games. We also rejected the International Olympic Committee’s lack of resolve to duly pressure the Chinese authorities to fulfill their promises in this regard. According to countless news reports, including the BBC, the South China Morning Post and Spain’s El País, reporters at the Olympic Press Center have realized that their access to several Web sites has been blocked by the authorities. The banned Web sites include those of Amnesty International, the BBC Mandarin service and several others of human rights and press freedom organizations working on Chinese issues. Many media outlets have quoted IOC’s Press Commission Chairman Kevan Gosper as saying that “There will be full, open and free Internet access during Games time to allow journalists to report on the Olympics." And almost in the same breath, Mr. Gosper said, “But I have also been advised that some of the IOC officials had negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked." (Read more) 
  • September 6-9, Bench participated in an International Association of Broadcasting event in Mexico City, DF regarding press freedom. He appeared on a panel with Latin American broadcasting and printed press luminaries, all of whom stressed the value and importance of press freedom and freedom of information as essential for growing and robust economies.
  • In early September, acting to support a group of Caracas TV journalists targeted for violence by President Hugo Chavez, WPFC filed a 29-page friend of the court brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The brief asks the Court to find that President Chavez and his state security forces violated the journalists’ freedom of expression. If the Inter-American Court agrees, it may impose sanctions on Venezuela. In their landmark case now before the Inter-American Court in Costa Rica, a group of journalists employed by the embattled Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) lodged a remarkable claim: the Chavez government, led by the President himself, conducted a vitriolic public campaign to demonize and threaten the journalists.
  • On October 2, WPFC issued a strongly worded statement criticizing a discussion that was scheduled to occur that same day at an experts’ seminar under the auspices of the Geneva-based United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. WPFC stated that this proposal —presented under the guise of “defamation of religion” and introduced by the 57-member-state Organization of the Islamic Conference— constitutes an unacceptable attempt to curtail freedom of expression throughout the world, especially in countries that lack an official religion. “Recent discussions of ‘Defamation of Religion’,” reads the WPFC statement, “have assumed that freedom of expression is simply one value to be balanced among many others, and specifically that, in matters of religion, it can properly be limited if a significant number of people would otherwise be angered or offended by it. That view, however, is totally unacceptable to many member states, for which freedom of expression is central to their entire system of governance.” For the full text, click here.
  • On November 4, WPFC wrote to the president of the Supreme Court of Chile, Urbano Marin Vallejo, expressing our profound rejection of the Court’s decision to sentence journalist Víctor Gutiérrez to a two-month suspended prison sentence and a 30 million pesos (US$45,500) fine as punitive damages. The Supreme Court upheld the decisions of two lesser courts, which ruled that Mr. Gutiérrez had defamed former Miss Chile Cecilia Bolocco in a series of television shows in 2001 which alleged that Ms. Bolocco had an a affair with Brazilian writer Paolo Coelho while she was still married to former Argentine President Carlos Ménem. Ms. Bolocco sued Mr. Gutiérrez for criminal defamation and demanded 80 million pesos (US$121,000) in punitive damages. The Supreme Court also imposed a 240,000-peso (US$350) fine on Mr. Gutiérrez. (Read more)
  • On November 25, WPFC wrote to Colombian Court magistrates Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa and Humberto Sierra Porto expressing our profound rejection of the decision by a Bogota court that ordered the arrest of the Editor-in-Chief of the Senama magazine, Alejandro Santos, for not precisely following the court’s instruction in the publication of a correction. (Read more)
  • December 3, WPFC announced that it has created the first annual award for press freedom champions, the Dana Bullen Press Freedom Advocacy Prize, in honor of the organization's first Executive Director. The Committee also announced that the first Prize would be bestowed on veteran free press activist Leonard R. Sussman, Senior Scholar of Freedom House and its Executive Director for 21 years (1967-88), during which he created that organization's annual press freedom survey, now seen as the statistical standard ranking of how free the press is in every major country. For further information on Leonard Sussman’s award, click here.
  • WPFC awarded the Dana Bullen Press Freedom Advocacy Prize to Leonard Sussman and hosted the 56th meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations on December 9. The date and location were chosen in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations December 10, 1948. The event was held at the UNESCO Liaison to UN conference room, and the Andersen-Ottaway Lecture was held at the United Nations Delegates’ Lounge on the 4th floor of the UN building, with Floyd Abrams, renowned First Amendment lawyer, speaking on the relationship of Article 19 of the UDHR to America’s First Amendment. For full text of Mr. Abram’s speech, click here.
  • December 19, WPFC wrote to President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe to express our
    profound distress because of the systematic repression the Zimbabwean independent media is subject to by agents of his government, including judicial harassment, threats, intimidation campaigns and also abductions, such as that of independent photojournalist Shadreck Manyere. (Read more)

Activities of Javier Sierra, Projects Director:

  • Jan. 24 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulating him for his pardoning five imprisoned journalists and also expressing concern over the high number of imprisoned journalists, including the recent jailing of Avaz Zeynalli, the editor-in-chief of the Khural newspaper, and one of his reporters, Kamal Huseyn, for alleged slander.
  • Jan. 31 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Yemen protesting the arbitrary shutting down of independent website www.yemenportal.net <http://www.yemenportal.net> and other sites by the authorities.
  • Feb. 6 – Drafted and coordinated distribution of a Fund Against Censorship (FAC) for the legal defense of Lesotho journalist Thabo Thakalekoala facing the death penalty.
  • Feb. 20 – Letter to Peruvian judicial authorities protesting Judge Juana Navarrete Tarazona’s rejecting to talk reporter Fernando Valverde because he is not member of Peru’s association of journalists.
  • Feb. 29 – Upon the invitation of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, I addressed a full session of the Organization of American States about hate speech and how it is dealt with in the American Convention on Human Rights. More than 30 ambassadors where in attendance along with press freedom experts from throughout the region. My speech took several days of research and preparations.
  • March 19 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a news release announcing the granting of Fund Against Censorship assistance for journalists Rovshen Kebirli, editor of Mukhalifet, an independent newspaper, and Yashar Agazade, a reporter of this publication, who had decided to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights after exhausting all domestic legal recourses.
  • March 12 – First post on China blog. The launch of the blog took many weeks of preparations. Ever since it was launched, I have refreshed the blog almost daily. This has included extensive research and in some cases reporting about items of interest.
  • April 1 – Culminated arrangements of contract with research service Lexis-Nexis for the blog.
  • April 13 – Presented my activities report before the WPFC Board during the American Society of Newspaper Editors annual meeting in Washington, DC.
  • April 15 – Presented my testimony before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights about the Globovision vs Venezuela case. This is considered a high honor for any press freedom group to be invited to testify before the Court.
  • April 17-19 – Live blogged about the activities of the WPFC’s “Beijing Olympics 2008: Winning Press Freedom” conference that took place in Paris.
  • April 29 – Presented a lecture about press freedom and the lack thereof before 15 Ukrainian journalists who were visiting Washington, DC, New York City and other US cities, as part of a trip organized by the International Center for Journalists.
  • May 6 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating him for the reform of Article 301 of the Criminal Code, which no longer punishes alleged suspects for “insulting the Turkish identity.” But we also urged him to take the necessary steps to eliminate completely all insult laws in existence in Turkey.
  • May 7-21 – Coordinated the editing and posting of 15 video clips from the Paris Conference about the Beijing Olympic Games and press freedom in China.
  • May 13 – Presented a lecture about press freedom and the lack thereof, and how to defend themselves from judicial harassment before 16 Uzbek journalists. The group visited the US under the auspices of the International Center for Journalists.
  • May 14 – Had a private interview with Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Executive Secretary Santiago Canton about the process to select the new rapporteur.
  • May 20 – Started the process, including meetings and negotiations, to redesign the blog platform.
  • May 26 – Coordinated logistics for the presentation of our amicus curiae brief supporting Argentine journalist Eduardo Kimel’s case before the IA Court HR. The resulting favorable decision was a major victory for press freedom in the Americas. We started our support for Kimel back in 2000.
  • May 27 – First personal interview with Marc Silver about his NGM article about insult and criminal defamation cases. Contacts started two months ago. This took two months of almost daily contacts and research follow-ups with journalists from several parts of the world.
  • June 2 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter congratulating the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on its ruling for Argentine journalist Eduardo Kimel. The court ruled that the laws that protect a person’s honor in Argentina violate the American Convention on Human Rights and that State must reform its legislation accordingly.
  • June 6 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev about journalist Agil Khalil’s being the victim of physical attacks, including a stubbing that nearly killed him.
  • June 12 – Upon the invitation of the International Center for Journalists, participated as a panel member at an international videoconference organized by the State Department’s Foreign Press Center. I shared the podium with a Mexican and a Colombian journalists to discuss the state of the media in Latin America and the Caribbean. In attendance, there were journalists from all over Latin America in situ, and others who joined in from US consulates in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Guadalajara. The one-and-a-half-hour panel, the third one I’ve done for ICFJ, focused on the press freedom situation in the US-Mexican border cities, which is one of the worst in the world.
  • June 25 – Coordinated our efforts to influence the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during its selection of a new Special Rapporteur.
  • July 16 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez congratulating him on his to submit a bill eliminating insult laws and decriminalizing defamation laws in your country. At the same time, we called his attention and that of the leaders of the Uruguayan Parliament to the imperfections of this initiative.
  • July 23 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter, which we also sent out in Arabic, to the Yemeni authorities expressing our concern about the general situation of press freedom and freedom of expression in that country, including the arrest and indictment of poet and comedian Fahed al-Qarni, who had been sentenced to a year and a half in prison and fined YR500,000 (about US$2,500).
  • July 29 – After weeks of coordinating this effort, we launched the redesigned blog, coinciding with the days previous to the inauguration of the Beijing Olympics.
  • July 31 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to International Olympic Committee’s President Jacques Rogge expressing our condemnation over the Chinese government’s decision to restrict Internet access to the tens of thousands of visiting journalists covering the Beijing Olympic Games. We also rejected the International Olympic Committee’s lack of resolve to duly pressure the Chinese authorities to fulfill their promises in this regard.
  • Sept. 3 – Started to make arrangements for our first interview with the incoming OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Dr. Catalina Botero.
  • Sept. 18 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a news release about the National Geographic Magazine’s October issue prominently featuring the World Press Freedom Committee in an article about how insult and criminal defamation laws stifle the fundamental rights of free speech and free press throughout the world. The National Geographic Magazine is published in 31 languages, with a monthly circulation of nearly nine million and more than 50 million readers.
  • Sept. 22 – I started the search for a vendor to redesign our WPFC web site, a process that took several months. I am still involved in the preparation for the launch of the new design.
  • Oct. 1 – Processed request for FAC assistance from Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti, who is suing the Peruvian state in search of a permit to interview former guerrilla leader Abimael Guzmán, who is in a military prison. The request was finally rejected.
  • Oct. 7 – Researched and wrote an article about Article 19’s 60th Anniversary for Spain’s Leer magazine. The article and several of my photos were published in a special issue in November.
  • Oct. 28 – Meeting of WPFC principals with new OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Dr. Catalina Botero. I worked on setting up the meeting for several weeks.
  • Oct. 28 – We received news of a great victory in Northern Cyprus, where Editor Dagan Harman, a journalists we have supported for three years, was finally vindicated in his legal battle against a former attorney general who had accused him of criminal defamation.
  • Oct. 29 – Reported on our meeting with the new rapporteur to several members of the Coordinating Committee.
  • Oct. 30 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a news release announcing WPFC’s involvement in the Global Network Initiative.
  • Nov. 4 – Drafted and coordinated distribution of letter to Chile’s Supreme Court protesting its decision to uphold a criminal defamation sentence against journalist Víctor Gutiérrez. I have been working with Gutiérrez ever since in his plans to take his case to the inter-American justice system.
  • Nov. 5-17 – Continued work with Moondance Productions coordinating redesign option for the website. Redesign coordination duties were handed over to Kumar Dattatreyan.
  • Nov. 19 – Contacted Dr. Botero to let her know we would unable to support the Santander Tristán criminal defamation case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights because he is not a journalist.
  • Nov. 25 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Colombian court on behalf of Alejandro Santos, editor-in-chief of Semana magazine, who is being subject to judicial harassment for alleged failure to fulfill a court-ordered penalty stemming from a criminal defamation case.
  • Nov. 29 – Prepared media materials related to the Andersen-Ottaway Lecture in New York City.
  • Nov. 30 – Prepared Fund Against Censorship report for Mark.
  • Dec. 2 – Working lunch with Kevin Goldberg and Due Process of Law Foundation Executive Director Eduardo Bertoni about updates on criminal defamation cases at the Inter-American Court and the European Court.
  • Dec. 8 – Prepared for Andersen-Ottaway Lecture in New York City.
  • Dec. 9 – Attended meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations in New York City, where I gave a spoken report about our anti-insult and anti-criminal defamation activities throughout the year.
  • Dec. 9 – Attended the Andersen-Ottaway Lecture at the United Nations Building in New York City. I took care of the photographic reportage of the lecture.
  • Dec. 12 – Participated in a staff meeting conference call about the future of the organization and status of current efforts, including fundraising.
  • Dec. 15 – Submitted my report to the Open Society Institute about the second half of the year, which took several days to put together.
  • Dec. 18 – Distributed photos of the Andersen-Ottaway Lecture to members of the Coordinating Committee who requested them.
  • Dec. 19 – Drafted and coordinated the distribution of a letter to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe protesting the abduction of a freelance journalist.
  • Dec. 31 – I have been refreshing and up-keeping the blog almost daily ever since its launch on March 12.

Activities of Kevin Goldberg, Treasurer and General Counsel:

  • Throughout 2008, I represented the World Press Freedom Committee at meetings of the newly-formed Global Network Initiative, designed to create a “multistakeholder process” to increase socially responsible behavior by Internet companies. My attendance also required review and comment on procedures to be followed by participating organizations and on the free expression principles themselves. I consulted with WPFC Chairman Richard Winfield and WPFC Executive Director Mark Bench to form the WPFC’s position on these issues and drafted the WPFC’s formal notice of participation, subject to certain conditions.
  • Also on an ongoing basis, I assisted in the review of applications from journalists in countries including Azerbaijan, Lesotho, Somalia for financial support from the WPFC’s “Fund Against Censorship”, ensuring that support was given only those organizations truly fitting the qualifications of a fund recipient.
  • As Treasurer, I reviewed the overall budget of the organization and approved expenditures of the Executive Director and staff as necessary through the year.
  • In February 2008, I reviewed and approved a request for WPFC’s inclusion in an amicus brief filed with the United States Supreme Court in the consolidated cases of Omar v. Geren and Munaf v. Geren, which sought to ensure that journalists working in conflict areas have access to the court system to protest any instances of erroneous detention during their work.
  • On February 14, 2008, I met with WPFC Executive Director Mark Bench and Projects Director Javier Sierra to create a set of fundraising principles and priorities for the organization.
  • In March and April 2008, I drafted the “Terms and Conditions” and “Privacy Policy” for the new WPFC blog “Interesting Times”.
  • On April 12, 2008, I presented the General Counsel’s report and, on behalf of Rony Koven, the European Representative’s Report at the WPFC’s Biennial Meeting held in Washington, DC.
  • On April 14, 2008, I represented the World Press Freedom Committee at a International Press Institute meeting held in conjunction with the annual conference of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, DC, summarizing the WPFC’s activities of the past year.
  • In August 2008, I reviewed an amicus brief drafted by outside counsel filed at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in support several journalists from the Venezuelan television station RCTV who claimed their free expression rights were systematically violated by the Venezuelan government.
  • On October 28, 2008, I met with, along with WPFC Executive Director Mark Bench and WPFC Projects Director Javier Sierra, Catalina Botero, the new Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the Organization of American States to discuss important issues facing the press in the Western Hemisphere. In particular we discussed a case pending before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Tristan Donoso v. Panama).
  • In November 2008, I reviewed a request for the WPFC to join an amicus brief supporting the request of Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic to have increased contact with the media in advance of and during his trial at the ICTY, ultimately deciding in conjunction with other WPFC officers that it was not in the best interests of the organization to join this effort.
  • I attended the meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations held at the UNESCO Conference Room on December 9, 2008.
  • Also on December 9, 2008, I attended the annual Andersen-Ottaway Lecture given by First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams.

WPFC Activity Report - 2007
WPFC Activity Report - 2006

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