02.05.2017 - UNESCO Montevideo Office

A record number of more than 2000 applicants have been accepted on the online course

Ibero-American judicial operators will commence the third edition of the MOOC; ‘International Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists’

UNESCO, together with the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, will deliver the online course titled, International Legal Framework for Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and the Safety of Journalists from May 8th to 18th of June 2017.

This, third edition of the course has reached a record number of 2,200 accepted applicants in the form of magistrates, judges, prosecutors and members of the public fiscal ministries, public defenders and other operators from the Ibero-american region.

This massive open online course designed for judicial operators in the region offers in-depth knowledge the international standards for promoting and defending freedom of expression and correlated rights. It will also support the participants in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particularly SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Lidia Brito, Director of UNESCO's Regional Office of Science for Latin America and the Caribbean said, "we want to encourage a broad regional debate on the protection and promotion of freedom of expression in the context of the Judiciary, especially at a time when many courts throughout the region are receiving more and more cases related to the violation of freedom of expression and associated rights".

Furthermore, and in line with rising trends of online shared knowledge platforms, the course offers the opportunity for judicial operators to interact with colleagues from throughout the region as well as strengthen their capacities and knowledge as key players in the protection and promotion of freedom of expression.

The significant increase in cases brought to the courts related to freedom of expression, access to public information and the safety of journalists presents judicial operators with new challenges. UNESCO Communications and Information Adviser, Guilherme Canela said, “the context in which freedom of expression placed in today is very different to that of 70 plus years ago, when it was inscribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For instance, freedom of expression on the Internet or access to public information are 21st century challenges faced by todays judiciaries. Twenty years ago, only one country in Latin America and the Caribbean had an access to information law, today there are approx. 20 countries and regulatory frameworks to monitor them".

Judge Alba Alvizuris of Guatemala, who completed the course in 2016 said, "those who exercise jurisdiction must be the principle actors in defending all freedoms, especially freedom of expression and access to information. Therefore, the judiciaries are fundamental pillars of democratic societies and the International Legal Framework for Freedom of Expression, Access to Public Information and the Safety of Journalists course is a necessary tool for understanding international standards on human rights laws".

In the last 10 years, UNESCO documented 827 murders of journalists, media workers and social media producers. In the Latin American and Caribbean region there were 176 cases, accounting for 21% of all cases. Márcio Schiefler Fontes, Brazilian Judge of the National Human Rights Council of Brazil who completed the course in 2016, said "this online course was a great opportunity for me to review transcendental issues related to International Human Rights Laws, with a focus on Latin America and the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights. Freedom of expression, is not of such high concern for most Latin American countries, nevertheless is extremely important. I recommend it to everyone".

Judge Elvira Sánchez Bardales, of Peru, who carried out the course in 2016, said "knowledge is fundamental when it comes to exercising the right to freedom of expression. Peru is a country in the process of constant democratization where in several moments freedom of expression has been violated. Also, the course has given me an insight into the importance of protecting journalists".

The methodology of the course follows the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin online training program, which was adapted by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression to address freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists. In the previous editions, the course counted on the participation of 3,000 judicial operators in Latin America. It is supported by supported by the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the Latin American Network for Schools of Judges, the Foundation for Press Freedom, the Swedish Government, the OAS and the University of the Andes.

The participants of this 3rd edition who are from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, as well as participants from Puerto Rico are welcome to share their knowledge and ideas on freedom of expression, access to public information and the safety of journalists throughout the Ibero-American region.

 




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