17.02.2017 - UNESCO Montevideo Office

UNESCO launches the 3rd edition of online course on freedom of expression for Ibero-American justice systems

Declared of interest by the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the course is aimed at operators of Ibero-American justice systems.

The third edition of the online course International Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists will take place from 8 May to 18 June 2017. Co-Organized by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur’s on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the course is coordinated by University of Texas at Austin’s Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. It is supported by the Ibero-American Network for Schools of Judges, the Foundation for Press Freedom, the Latin American Internet Association, the OAS School of Government and the Government of Sweden. In addition, the Ibero-American Judicial Summit declared the initiative of interest, at its 2016 Plenary Assembly.

Offered for free, the course has already trained approximately 3,000 judicial operators in Ibero-America, with the perspective that freedom of expression and the right to information are fundamental rights that enable the exercise of all other human rights. Lidia Brito, director of UNESCO's Regional Office for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “this initiative goes beyond the idea of training. What we are seeking is to join efforts with the administrations of justice systems in Ibero-America. We want to encourage a broad regional debate on the protection and promotion of freedom of expression in the context of the judicial branch. And all this at a time when the courts of throughout the region receive more and more cases related to the issues that will be addressed in the course".

Therefore, the course aimed at operators of justice systems in Ibero-America seeks to generate empowerment and knowledge so that these important representatives make decisions in line with freedom of expression. Lidia Brito sums up: "justice operators are key players in protecting and promoting freedom of expression, access to public information and protection of journalists. We are confident that a deeper understanding of international standards can help in its work and in the implementation of the 2030 development agenda, particularly in its Objective 16, which is closely connected to the topics that will be worked on in the course". In this line of thought, Edison Lanza, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights states that "this is a joint effort of the Rapporteurship and of UNESCO with the objective of cooperating with the Judicial Branches of the region in the permanent training of the judges in the complex subject of the content and scope of freedom of expression. It is also the most effective way to guarantee national justice in cases of freedom of expression."

The methodology of the course follows the online training program of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, which was adapted for the topic of freedom of expression, access to information and protection of journalists by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. For the founder and director of the University of Texas Knight Center, Rosental Calmon Alves, "It is an honor to participate once again in this innovative project of UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur to offer free training for judges and other Ibero-American justice operators on the international legal framework of Freedom of Expression, access to information and protection of journalists. We have checked with the previous courses the effectiveness of our system that allows justice officials to take the course in the days and hours that suit them best.”

The course takes place exclusively in the virtual environment, with no live classes, where students must participate in weekly discussions and complete assigned activities over the 6 weeks. The content is divided into modules with the following themes:

  1. General Introduction to the International Legal Framework for Freedom of Expression.
  2. Violence against freedom of expression: the role of the judiciary in the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against individuals as a reprisal for the exercise of their right to freedom of expression or as a mechanism to prevent them from exercising this right.
  3. Limits to the exercise of freedom of expression: the difficulties arising from the use of criminal law.
  4. Introduction to the new challenges of freedom of expression on the internet.
  5. The right of access to information and freedom of expression.
  6. Diversity and pluralism in the media.

To apply prior to the International Legal Framework Course on Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and Protection of Journalists, interested parties must register here until 04/30/2017:

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