26.03.2019 - UNESCO Montevideo Office

UNESCO welcomes more than two thousand judicial operators from Latin America to its Online Course on Freedom of Expression

UNESCO welcomes the more than 2,000 judicial operators from Latin America who will take part in the fifth edition of the International Legal Framework Course on Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and the Protection of Journalists.

UNESCO, together with the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), will deliver the online course “International Legal Framework of Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and Protection of Journalists” from April 1 to May 20, 2019.

This free access and online initiative encourages ongoing training, dialogue and connection between magistrates, judges, prosecutors and members of the Public Prosecutor's Office, Public Defenders and Judicial Powers from 21 Ibero-American countries. Participants share similar challenges such as the role of the Judiciary in protecting and guaranteeing the rights to freedom of expression, access to public information and security of journalists, even if they come from different nations.

In May, at the end of this edition, more than 10,000 judges, prosecutors, defenders and officials of the judiciary, public prosecutors, public defenders, national human rights institutions and bodies related to access to public information will have exchanged six weeks of debates with Ibero-American colleagues.

In this line, Guilherme Canela, Communication and Information Regional Adviser of the UNESCO Office in Montevideo, highlights the importance of the 5th edition of this MOOC for judicial operators throughout Ibero-America. "The uniqueness of this initiative is that, in a context of challenges for the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, access to public information and the safety of journalists, we have the support of international organizations and an informal network of 10,000 judicial officers committed to the application of international standards in the national contexts. It is a pleasure for UNESCO to take part. This network of judicial operators, which has been created through the course, presents a structure without geographical limits whose purpose is to promote freedom of expression, access to information and the protection of journalists, so that the trinomial of democracy, development and human rights reach its maximum expression.”

Lidia Brito, director of UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean, argues that the initiative goes beyond the idea of training: "It is a joint construction with justice operators in Latin America. We want to encourage a broad regional debate on the protection and promotion of freedom of expression in the context of the Judicial Powers and all that at a time when the courts of the entire region receive more and more cases related to the topics that will be addressed in the course".

In this context, the course aimed at operators of justice systems in Ibero-America, seeks to empower and provide knowledge so that students -relevant representatives of regional judicial systems- reflect and make decisions in accordance with international standards on freedom of expression. "Justice operators are fundamental actors in the protection and promotion of freedom of expression, access to public information and in the provision of protection to journalists," emphasizes Brito. She also highlights that "most detailed and in-depth knowledge of the international standards can help in daily work and make an effective contribution to achieve the goals proposed by the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, especially Objective 16, which is deeply linked to the topics that will be addressed in the course from a theoretical, reflective and practical perspective".

Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated "the aim of this joint effort of the Rapporteur’s Office and UNESCO is to provide the Judicial Powers of the region with ongoing training for magistrates in the complex theme of freedom of expression in each jurisdiction."

The methodology of the course follows the online training program of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas of the University of Texas, Austin. It was adapted to deal with quality and efficiency issues of freedom of expression, access to information and the provision of protection to journalists so that they can work in safe environments as proposed by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American System.

Rosental Calmon Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center of the University of Texas noted, "it is an honor to participate once again in this initiative proposed by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression." He stressed, “the course is a knowledge technological platform that, with digital resources in tune with the epochal paradigm, provides free training for judges and other justice operators on the legal framework and international standards that apply to freedom of expression, access to public information and the provision of security to journalists." He also stated that, with the evaluation work carried out at the Knight Center after the completion of each course, "we have verified the effectiveness of our system that enables justice operators to take the course on the days and times that best suit them.”

This approach, which includes the importance of guaranteeing fundamental rights such as freedom of the press, outlines that 125 journalists were killed from 2012 to 2016 in Latin American and Caribbean region. The figures are according to the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: 2017/2018 Global Report. This publication of UNESCO, and prominent international partners, draws a contemporary panorama on press freedom and the safety of journalists. The report emphasizes that impunity for the murder of journalists prevails in the region: only 15% of cases are classified as solved.

A culture of impunity incites more violence against journalists, as well as silences cases, and encourages self-censorship within the media and discouraging the investigation of sensitive issues such as criminal networks, access to information and corruption. The jurisdictional authorities of the region have a key role to break this perverse vicious circle.

In previous editions, nearly 8 thousand judicial operators in Ibero-America attended the course, which has the support of the Ibero-American Network of Judicial Schools, the Foundation for Freedom of the Press, the Latin American Internet Association, the OAS School of Government, Universidad de los Andes, the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, and of the Government of Sweden.

UNESCO and its partners welcome the 2126 judicial operators of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, who will take part in this new edition. Participants are joining the initiative with the intention of sharing knowledge and ideas regarding freedom of expression, access to public information and protection of journalists throughout the Ibero-American region.

 

 




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