This is the final evening in the series on the shrinking space for human rights and civil society, organised together with the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs (BZ) and the Netherlands Platform for Human Rights (BMO). In part one, the general issue has been introduced: the ways in which NGO’s and individual human rights defenders are being limited in their work, and how this worldwide trend of shrinking space is related to the anti-terrorist measures taken after 9/11. In part two of the series, the consequences of strict measures for lawyers and human rights defenders, in particular in Turkey, have been explored.
13 November 2014, 20:00-22:00 | SPUI25 | Spui 25-27 Amsterdam
In part three, the focus will be on ways in which freedom of expression is being limited, especially on the internet. The situation in Ethiopia will be taken as a starting point to explore this issue. Claire Beston, Ethiopia researcher at Amnesty International will talk about the current situation as regards the law and limitations for NGOs. An Ethiopian blogger representing Zone 9 will share experiences with limitations of freedom of expression and repercussions towards journalists. Bethel Tsegaye, project officer at Free Press Unlimited will add to the discussion. We will also explore ways in which governments can contribute to enhancing space for civil societies and journalists, in particular the Dutch government.
Claire Beston is Amnesty International's researcher on Ethiopia and Eritrea, based in Nairobi, Kenya. She researches and has published reports on a number of areas of human rights, with particular focus on issues around freedom of expression and association, arbitrary detention, torture and restrictive legislation. In this role she has conducted research in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somaliland, Uganda, and Egypt.
Blogger from zone 9
Zone 9 is a collective of bloggers and social media activists from Ethiopia, established by journalists and intellectuals. The name refers to the ‘virtual imprisonment’ of Ethiopians, the ninth zone of the Kaliti Prison in the capital Addis Ababa that extends well beyond its walls. With the slogan ‘we blog, because we care’, a public conversation about the future of the country is initiated. However, this initiative is not welcomed by the government, and six of them were arrested in April 2014, together with three other independent journalists. They are charged with terrorism. At this moment, Atnaf Berahane, Befekadu Hailu, Abel Wabela, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnael Feleke, and Zelalem Kibret, (and the three journalists, Tesfalem Waldyes, Edom Kassaye, and Asmamaw Hailegiorgis) are still being detained. Their trial should start at the 4th of November (after being re-adjourned ten times).
Bethel Tsegaye is a project officer at Free Press Unlimited, a media development NGO working to improve freedom of speech and expression in fragile states. She has been working on issues of press freedom and media development in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. She has experience implementing media development projects in Ethiopia and is interested in how to improve access to information in the country. Currently, she is working with journalists, human rights defenders and bloggers to use ICT for freedom of expression and digital freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Netherlands Platform for Human Rights is an alliance of human rights and development organisations based in the Netherlands. For more information, see www.bmoweb.nl