Germany receives letter from UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

On 1st June, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, has sent a letter to the German Government concerning a drafted social media bill (Netzdurchführungsgesetz). The bill is introduced as a measure to protect network users against hate speech and misinformation. The bill was approved by the Cabinet and is expected to be voted on in Parliament before the national elections in September 2017. Kaye sets up seven serious concerns an concludes: “The liability placed upon private companies to remove third party content absent a judicial oversight is not compatible with international human rights law.” Censorship measures should not be delegated to private entities ((A/HRC/17/31). Germany has 60 days to respond. The letter has been published at the website of the Special Rapporteur.

The German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat), Wikimedia Germany, Reporters sans frontières and other organizations in Germany have signed a “Declaration on Freedom of Expression” (“Deklaration für die Meinungsfreiheit“) as immediate reaction on the social media bill draft.

Police raid at Gogol Centre in Moscow

Police investigators raided the Gogol Centre in Moscow and took its renowned artistic director Kirill S. Serebrennikov in for questioning as part of a corruption investigation. Raids at the Gogol Center and Mr. Serebrennikov’s apartment took place on Tuesday 23rd of May, and he was released late that night after hours of questioning .For now, Serebrennikov is a witness and not longer a suspect in the case, which formally does not concern the Gogol Center. Many artists and theater and film directors feared the raids might signal a crackdown on artistic freedom and voiced their support of Serebrennikov in letters to President Putin.

Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Die Welt

Call for UNESCO reforms and a UN plan for safety of artists

Invited by UNESCO for a keynote speech at the World Press Freedom Day event in Jakarta (1-4 May), the outgoing Freemuse co-founder and Executive Director Ole Reitov pointed out that while UNESCO drafted the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, no such plan exists for artists, who work, create and communicate in very different ways.

“Journalists are articulate, well organized and their work for the protection of journalists has led to a number of international declarations and support programmes. This is not the case with artists,” Reitov explained. “Artists express themselves differently and in many countries they are poorly organized. There should be no distinction between the condemnation of attacks on journalists and artists.”

Thus, Freemuse calls for the current and forthcoming Director General of UNESCO to strongly condemn censorship, imprisonment and attacks on artists, and to draft a UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Artists and the Issue of Impunity.

Further Freemuse also calls on UNESCO to revamp its mechanism for filing human rights complaints needs to be strengthened, made more accessible and easy to use.

Source: Freemuse

Arts Rights Justice Program at Hildesheim UNESCO Chair

The ARJ Program was developed in cooperation with 30 international expert institutions and is initially intended to run from 2017 until 2019 with the support of the German Foreign Office and the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). It will encompass an annual ACADEMY accompanied by an international CONFERENCE at the University of Hildesheim (Germany); a series of ARJ LABORATORIES with partners in different world regions; and an open access online library.
This year’s ARJ ACADEMY runs from August 24 – August 30, followed by the ARJ CONFERENCE August 30 – September 1 in Hildesheim (Germany). A call for particiaption an an application form is online. Deadline: May 15, 2017.

Source and further information:

27 May, Nörrköpping: ACAR-Seminar “Artistic Expression as Political Manifestation”

“Theatre as Resistance – artistic expression as political manifestation” is a public seminar, organized by Scensverige (former Teaterunionen) in the framework of the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2017 in Norrköping.
In 2016, the number of offenses against artistes and crimes against artistic freedom around the world doubled according to a recent report. The seminar presents the facts surrounding this together with Jonatan Stanczak, The Freedom Theatre Jenin, Natalia Koliada, Belarus Free Theatre and Abduljaebbar Alsuhili, comedian, actor and activist from Yemen.
The seminar is arranged in collaboration with Kulturhuset Stadsteatern and ITI’s Action Committe for Artists Rights.
Date: Saturday May 27, 10:00-11:45. Place: Louis De Geer Konsert & Kongress, Nörrköping, Sweden.
Source and info at Scensverige