Uttalelse om Bradley Manning

I USA sitter den 23-år gamle forsvarsanalytikeren Bradley Manning fenglset for påstått lekasje til Wikileaks av en video der et amerikansk helikopter angriper og dreper minst 11 sivile irakere, inklusive to journalister.  I tillegg er han beskyldt for å ha lekket tusenvis av dokumenter, “The Afghan War Diary”, som beskriver overgrep mot sivile, samt tildekning av korrupsjon, konflikter med lokale krigsherrer og USA og NATOs mislykkede militære innsats i Afghanistan.  Manning risikerer en svært lang fengselstraff.

Norsk PEN ønsker ikke å ta stillingt til de juridiske og sikkerhetsmessige aspektene ved Manning “forbrytelse”, men minner om president Obamas kommentar om varslere under sin presidentkampanje i 2008: “Den eneste grunnen til at vi kjenner til disse forbrytelsene er fordi folk på innsiden har varslet oss og samtidig utsatt seg selv for stor, personlig risiko.  Varslere er en del av et sunt demokrati og må beskyttes mot represalier.”

Manning sitter nå i isolat på Quantico Marine Base og er blitt utsatt for tortur iflg. hjemmesiden til hans offisielle støttegruppe “Free Bradley Manning”.  Han er også av fengselsmyndighetene blitt nektet besøk av en offisielle delegasjon som ønsket å undersøke Mannings fengslingsforhold nærmere.  Iflg. representanter for den amerikanske regjeringen og ledelsen på Quantico Marine Base er “kongressrepresentant Dennis Kucinich og FNs spesialrapportør på tortur ikke å anse som “offisielle representanter for regjeringen””. Begge to har forsøkt å besøke Manning i månedsvis, men er blitt nektet adgang til fengselet. Iflg. gjeldende amerikansk regelverk skulle Kucinich kunne innvilges en slik besøkstillatelse.  FNs spesialrapportør har nå satt i gang en offisiell etterforskning av Mannings fengslingsforhold.

Norsk PEN oppfordrer president Obama og det amerikanske forvaret til å respektere og følge gjeldende lokale og internasjonale regler gjennom å stoppe torturen av Manning og tillate besøk i fengselet.  Uansett tiltalen mot Manning finnes det ingen unnskyldning for den behandlingen han er blitt utsatt for, eller av forsvarsdepartementet og Quantico Marine Base´s åpenbare forsøk på å forhindre offisielle undersøkelser av Mannings fengslingsforhold.

Oslo, 28.04.11
Årsmøtet i Norsk PEN

 

Uttalelse om krigen i Gaza

Norsk PEN, den norske avdelingen av International PEN som representerer over 15.000 forfattere over hele verden, ser på den voldelige og tragiske utviklingen i Gaza-konflikten mellom Israel og Palestina med både sorg og avsky.  Lidelsene som denne brutale krigen har ført til for sivilbefolkningen på begge sider av konflikten er ikke til å bære.

Norsk PEN protester mot restriksjonene Israel har innført som nekter journalister adgang til Gaza og appellerer til israelske myndigheter om å fjerne disse og bidra til å sikre at journalister kan arbeide i Gaza uten fare for egne liv.

Pga. disse restriksjonene har de norske legene Mats Gilbert og Erik Fosse, og seinere andre helsearbeidere fra Norwac, i en periode vært de eneste vestlige informasjonskildene fra Gaza til verden utenfor.  Norsk PEN tar avstand fra den kritikken som er blitt rettet mot Gilbert og Fosse, og vil berømme deres innsats, både som leger og som informasjonskilder under særdeles dramatiske forhold.

Norsk PEN tror at forhandlinger og dialog er den eneste farbare vei å gå for å løse konflikter og henstiller til myndighetene i Israel og Palestina, inklusive Hamas, om å gå nye veier for å komme fram til en bærekraftig og varig fredsavtale.

Videre henstiller Norsk PEN til alle land og stater, inklusive USA, EU og nabolandene i konflikten, til å gjøre alt de kan for å bidra til en varig og rettferdig slutt på denne krigen.

Vold avler vold, frykt og terror både for palestinere, israelere og alle oss som er vitner til det som skjer i Gaza.

Støtteuttalelse til Tibet-komitéen

25. April 2008

Chungdak Koren
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tordenskjoldsgate 6 B
0160 Oslo

 

Dear Chungdak Koren

The board of Norwegian PEN wishes to express its solidarity and support, both with the people of Tibet, and with the work of the Norwegian Tibet Committee, during their ongoing fight for free expression and respect for universal human rights.  Now that this conflict has re-surfaced on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it is increasingly important that human rights- and freedom of expression organizations and activists worldwide show their solidarity with the people of Tibet and their organizations.

On this background, the board of Norwegian PEN, supports the Norwegian Tibet Committee´s demands that

·    an international, independant investigation of the recent demonstrations in Tibet be carried out by the United Nations

·    the Olympic Torch Relay will not include visits to Tibet as this will further escalate this conflict

·    Norwegian politicians and official guests find efficient ways to demonstrate their concern with the present human rights situation in China, for instance by not attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

 

Sincerely

Anders Heger/s.                                                Carl Morten Iversen
President                                                          Secretary General

Copy: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Høringsuttalelse: Allmenkringkastingsplakat

Oslo 28 .08.07

 

Kultur- og kirkedepartementet
Postboks 8030 dep
0030 Oslo

Høringsuttalelse – Allmennkringkastingsplakat for NRK

Norsk PEN takker for invitasjon til å kommentere utkastet til Allmenn-kringkastingsplakat for NRK.  Styret i Norsk PEN har gjennomgått og drøftet utkastet og har følgende kommentar:

Norsk PEN er en ytringsfrihetsorganisasjon og forsvar for ytringfriheten er vårt primære arbeidsområde.  Norsk PEN mener derfor at bestemmelsene om ytringsfrihet i den nye grunnlovsparagraf 100 bør reflekteres i forslaget til Allmennkringkastingsplakat, og da spesielt formuleringen i siste avsnitt, der det heter: «Det paaligger Statens Myndigheder at lægge Forholdene til Rette for en aaben og oplyst offentlig Samtale».  Dette gjelder særlig på to områder: Når det gjelder flerspråklighet og utenriksdekning.

Flerspråklighet
Utkastet er oppttatt av norsk språk, identitet og kultur med hovedvekt på norsk/nynorsk og samisk.  Til tross for at utkastet berører Norge som «et flerkulturelt samfunn» og snakker om «økt forståelse og dialog mellom ulike grupper i samfunnet», reflekteres ikke dagens flerspråklighet gjennom en formulering som «NRKs tilbud skal i hovedsak bestå av norskspråklig innhold».

Ser man denne formuleringen i lys av dagens programprofil i NRK, der en ikke prosentangitt «hovedvekt» er norskspråklig og resten fylt med import som i hovedsak kommer fra USA, gis det neppe plass til det eksisterende språklige mangfoldet i Norge.

Et ukentlig magasinprogram som Migrapolis kan ikke rette opp dette inntrykket. Først når NRK har valgsendinger på andre minoritetsspråk enn samisk har institusjonen vist vilje til å ivareta dagens språklige mangfold og til å løse ytrings- og informasjonsproblem som hemmer demokratiet.  Det vil bidra til å gi formuleringen om «NRK skal bidra til å fremme den offentlige samtalen og medvirke til at hele befolkningen får tilstrekkelig informasjon til å kunne være aktivt med i demokratiske prosesser» et mer reelt innhold.

På denne bakgrunn, samt formuleringene som gjelder allmenn tilgjengelighet og mangfold, ber vi om at det tas inn formuleringer i dokumentet som sikrer et bredere språklig mangfold i NRK.

Utenriksdekning
Som allmennkringkaster har NRK et stort ansvar for å informere publikum om hva som skjer utenfor Norge.  At «NRK skal ta sikte på å bidra til økt kunnskap om internasjonale forhold…..» er en for vag formulering og sier ingen ting om den konkrete utenriksdekningen som forøvrig heller ikke er nevnt andre steder i utkastet.

Den pågående globaliseringen gjør at verden er blitt mindre og nyheter spres raskere.  Publikum oppdaterer seg på nettet og direkte fra kilden, men vil da ofte gå glipp av den undersøkende journalistikken, intervjuer med lokale politikere, publikum eller andre aktører og den personlige kommentaren – sentrale journalistiske grep som NRKs mange, dyktige utenriksmedarbeidere behersker.

En bred og god utenriksdekning er et viktig element i en allmennkringkasting når det gjelder å bidra til å «fremme forståelse mellom folkegrupper.»  Dypest sett vil utenriksdekningen derfor også være helt sentral når vi ser på utkastets ønske om at NRK skal bidra til å «understøtte og styrke demokratiet».

Norsk PEN har lenge sett med bekymring på NRKs nedbygging av det internasjonale korrespondentnettet.  At utenriksdekningen ikke nevnes konkret i utkastet gir ytterligere grunn til bekymring.  På denne bakgrunn ber vi om at det tas inn formuleringer i forslaget som bidrar til å sikre og styrke NRKs utenriksdekning. Det eksisterende punktet (fjerde overskrift, femte kulepunkt) kan for eksempel formuleres slik:

NRK skal gjennom en bred og høyt prioritert utenriksdekning bidra til økt kunnskap om og forståelse av internasjonale forhold i befolkningen. Gjennom dette vil NRK fremme forståelse mellom folkegrupper og på tvers av kontinenter.

Andre spørsmål
NRKs allmennkringkastingstilbud bør være gratis for alle lisensbetalere, derfor mener Norsk PEN at formuleringen ”som utgangspunkt” i 2. avsnitt, 2. kulepunkt bør fjernes. Dessuten bør en vurdere om ikke også internett-tjenestene kan være gratis.

Av hensyn til forskere, journalister, forfattere, studenter og andre med interesse for historie foreslår vi også at arkivtilbudet bør være gratis tilgjengelig uten forbehold (jfr. Formuleringen ”i hovedsak” i avsnitt 3).

Med vennlig hilsen

Anders Heger/s.                                                    Carl Morten Iversen
leder                                                                    generalsekretær

Uttalelse om World Summit on the Information Society

Tunis, 18 November 2005

“Never again” say freedom of expression groups

Media and freedom of expression groups today, at the conclusion of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), called for a full investigation by the United Nations into attacks on human rights and freedom of expression that took place in Tunisia on the eve of and during the Summit.

Steve Buckley, President of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and Chair of the Tunisian Monitoring Group (TMG) of freedom of expression organisations said:

“Never again should a United Nations World Summit be held in a country that does not respect its international commitments to human rights and freedom of expression.

“This week in Tunis, both inside and outside the official Summit, we have witnessed serious attacks on the right to freedom of expression including harassment of delegates, attacks on Tunisian and international journalists and human rights defenders, denial of entry to the country, the blocking of websites, the censorship of documents and speeches, and the prevention and disruption of meetings.”

In the face of these attacks, it is with relief that we acknowledge the reaffirmation of human rights principles and the right to freedom of expression that is contained in the Tunis Commitment of the WSIS.

On 30 September 2005, 37 governments called on Tunisia to make the WSIS a “Summit in Tunisia, not a Summit on Tunisia”. This week’s events have put the spotlight not only on Tunisia but also on the central importance of human rights and freedom of expression in the information society throughout the world.

We call on all stakeholders to ensure that human rights and freedom of expression is mainstreamed into all follow-up mechanisms including the Internet Governance Forum and we commit ourselves to working towards that objective.

This week has also reminded us of the importance of being constantly vigilant, and of the courage of those who speak out in the face of repression and censorship. In this respect we welcome the decision of the Tunisian human rights defenders who agreed today to end their hunger strike. We commit ourselves to working with them and other brave defenders of human rights to continue to monitor freedom of expression in Tunisia.

***

The Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) is a coalition of 14 organisations set up in 2004 to monitor freedom of expression in Tunisia in the run up to and following the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The 14 organisations are all members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global network of 64 national, regional and international organizations committed to defending the right to freedom of expression.

Members of the TMG are:

ARTICLE 19, UK
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), Egypt
Index on Censorship, UK
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Belgium
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA),
The Netherlands
International Publishers’ Association (IPA), Switzerland
Journaliste en danger (JED), Democratic Republic of Congo
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia
Norwegian PEN, Norway
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Canada
World Association of Newspapers (WAN), France
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), USA
Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC), UK

Fellesuttalelse om situsjonen i Azerbaijan

Oslo, 26th May 2005

To:
The Chairman and members of the Norwegian permanent delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE)

Re:
The obligations of the Azerbaijani Government to comply with its commitments following its membership in the Council of Europe

The non-governmental human rights organisations the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian PEN find it necessary to direct your attention to how the Azerbaijan authorities continues not to fulfil its obligations before the Council of Europe, and ask you if you are planning to make any steps in this regard.

On Thursday 19 May we received alarming reports from a number of credible sources regarding the detention of at least 30 democracy activists and members of the opposition. The authorities have accused them of violation of public order. We believe that the arrests were connected with the rally planned by the opposition parties Musavat, Azerbaijan Democratic Party and Popular Front joined in the “UGUR”-bloc on May 21st. The Mayor of Baku City refused permission to organise the event citing concerns that it fell too close to the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline scheduled for May 25.  As you may be aware of, the authorities have de facto installed a ban on all rallies and protests organised by opposition parties and other organisations since the terrible events in Baku on October 16th, 2003.  On that day, the police, military and security forces violently broke up the large rally on the Freedom Square protesting the fraudulent October 15th elections.  The Azerbaijani authorities refuse the right of assembly despite the guarantees provided by the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the obligations following the membership in the Council of Europe, and despite the Article 8 of President Ilham Aliyevs Executive order on improvement of the Election Practices.

On May 21st, police surrounded Party headquarters before the scheduled rally, closed entrances to the square where the rally was supposed to take place and also used other measures, including arrests, to prevent protesters to approach the square.  The police in large groups then used batons to beat people who had gathered and attempted to get to the square.  Dozens were injured and more than hundred detained.  We can provide you with lists of the injured and arrested upon request.  The journalist Faris Teymurkhanli was beaten unconscious, even though he was carrying a jacket clearly indicating that he represented the press. Also several other journalists were beaten carrying out their duty, in direct contradiction to the statement made by President Aliyev in a meeting with Reporters Sans Frontiéres on 4 April 2005.  In that meeting, the President stressed that that it was “unacceptable for government officials to attack journalists» and that he wished in future to «establish the rule of law» in Azerbaijan.

Today, we have had reports that even young students, members of the organisations advocating for activation of the role of youth in political processes and propagating the norms of democracy are being arrested.

On 25 April 2005, the PACE Monitoring Committee adopted a declaration expressing deep concern ahead of the November 2 parliamentary elections.  The Committee declared that basic pre-conditions for holding free and fair elections are not met, as freedom of expression is suppressed and there is no right to hold peaceful meetings.  The Committee underscored that even though many political prisoners, including opposition leaders have been released; they are still banned from participating in political life.  On this particular issue, we also would like to remind you that potential candidates are still abroad for fear of persecution if they return, reducing the list of profiled opposition figures on the candidates lists even more.

The declaration adopted by the Committee echoed in particular the PACE resolution 1358 (2004) on the functioning of the democratic institutions in Azerbaijan.  In this resolution, PACE expresses a number of serious concerns related to considering the election of 15 October 2003, PACE also finds the separation of powers inadequate and deplores the fact that media still cannot be considered free.  With regard to fundamental freedoms, PACE concludes that the freedom of expression has been further curtailed, not improved, since the previous report, the freedom of association is restricted, the freedom of peaceful assembly suffers repeated an unacceptable restrictions.  Further, PACE concludes that serious violations of basic human rights by law enforcement bodies are still being reported and torture and ill-treatment of detainees continue.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian PEN would like to express our concerns and doubts with regard to the Government of Azerbaijan’s sincere intentions to implement the obligations following the membership in the Council of Europe.  The recent events again seriously put in question the Azerbaijani governments’ understanding of the real content of what a pluralistic, democratic society, governed under rule of law means.  We are seriously concerned that if the Azerbaijani government does not immediately lift all restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, as well as implements recommendations made by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission with regard to election administration, free and fair parliamentary elections in November this year will not be possible.

Our organisations acknowledge that a new member state of the Council of Europe may need a reasonable amount of time to be able to implement the commitments they have voluntarily made.  However, we urge you to raise the question as to whether the Government of Azerbaijan is sincerely committed to its effort to fulfil its obligations before the Council of Europe.  We also urge you to consider the consequences the recent events related to the Republic of  Azes membership in the Council of Europe.

Sincerely yours,

Bjørn Engesland
Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Maria Dahle
Executive Director, Human Rights House Foundation, Norway

Carl Morten Iversen
Secretary General, Norwegian PEN

 

Copies of this letter are sent to:

President Ilham Aliyev, the Republic of Azerbaijan
The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Petersen
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik
The Norwegian Parliament, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Torbjørn Jagland
The Norwegian Embassy, Baku, Steinar Gil
The US Embassy, Baku
Hina Jilani
FIDH,
Freedom House
OSCE, Baku Office
Council of Europe, Baku Office

Uttalelse til OSCEs Human Dimensions konferanse, oktober 2003

OSCE Human Dimensions Conference 2003 Warzaw, Poland, October 2003

Statement by Norwegian People’s Aid, Norwegian Union of Journalists and Norwegian PEN

 

Mr. Chairman, honoured delegates and colleagues,

Too many regimes, political leaders and non-governmental or quasi-governmental groups find it hard to meet criticism and unpleasent questions and to respect opposition. A wide range of means are being used by the same actors to silence critisism and independent information: liquidation, intimidation, imprisonment and torture, censorship and more subtile economical means such as monopolization of distribution units, illegal tax inspections and demands and an extensive use of defamation statutes against journalists and editors who are sentenced to pay heavy fines. We view the latter practices as financial blackmail intended to bankrupt publications and individual journalists. All these means are being employed in the OSCE region.

Belarus
The authoritanian regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is openly hostile to a free press.  According to Freedom House (New York) new security legislation allows state agencies to effectively seize control of all media outlets under cover of counter-terrorism operations.  This legislation prohibits press discussion of law enforcement activities and defines some forms of political protest as «terrorist» activity.  In 2002, Belarusian courts sentenced Mikola Markevich, editor of the independant weekly Pahonya, and the journalist Pavel Mazheika to two years of forced labour for insulting the honor of the president. The sentence was reduced to one year on appeal.  Authorities subsequently arrested 14 journalists for protesting in support of Markevich and Mazheika.  State-run media outlets are subordinated to the president, whose regime controls press content and the appointment of senior editors.  While state-controlled print and broadcast media do not offer a plurality of views, some regional television broadcasters cautiously attempt more balanced reporting.  Many Belarusians receive their news from Russian television.  However, the government is reportedly planning to assign the current Russian broadcast frequency to a new state television channel.

Ukraine
In Ukraine, freedom of the press declined under the continued weight of political pressure and government censorship.  Article 34 of the constitution, and a 1991 law on print media, guarantee freedom of expression and the press, but journalists do not enjoy these rights in practice.  Official influence and de facto censorship is widespread.  The administration issues regular instructions (temniks) to mass media outlets directing the nature, theme, and substance of news reporting.  The European Institute for the Media reported that coverage at the state broadcaster UT-1 clearly favored the ruling party during the March 2002 parliamentary campaign.  Opposition media outlets face various forms of harassment, including obstructive tax audits, safety inspections, and selective enforcement of media regulations.  Libel ceased to be a criminal offense in 2001; however, politically motivated civil suits are common.  Journalists frequently experience physical assaults, death threats and murder as a result of their work.  In March 2002, Reporters Sans Frontières noted that 10 journalists have died under suspicious circumstances in the past four years, while another 41 have suffered serious injury from attacks.  In October, the body of Ukrainian News director Mykhailo Kolomyets was discovered in northwestern Belarus nearly a week after he had disappeared from Kyiv.  Kolomyets´s news agency had at times been critical of the government.  The case remained open by year´s end.  The well publicized murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze also remains unsolved.  Although print and broadcast media are largely in private hands, the state maintains control over the central printing and distributing centers.

Recommendations
On behalf of Norwegian People´s Aid, Norwegian Union of Journalists and Norwegian PEN, I would like to ask you to pay attention to the following two recommendations:

1) We will again recommend that the OSCE conducts a comparative analysis on the situation of freedom of expression in all OSCE participating states. The purpose of this study will be to identify common problems and obstacles, as well as country specific problems. This study will enable a more effective approach to solve the problems, both by national governments and international organisations. To conduct this study, financial support from the OSCE participating states must be required, as well as independent expert and NGO assistance. The study could also be used to elaborate and adopt international guidelines to national governments facing political and religious extremism.

2) With reference to freedom of the media we will recommend that the OSCE establishes a consultative body where competent NGOs are represented on an informal or formal basis. We believe that the NGOs will contribute with valuable insight and concrete measures to the strengthening of freedom of the media in the OSCE region.

Oslo, 01. October 2003