Forum for Media Freedoms Defenders in the Arab World
Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists
5-7 December 2011
Amman & Dead Sea / Jordan
The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions granted media with a recognition certificate for its role in change, building democracy and reform; and it revealed the wide margin played by the new media in making the change. The very same conclusion is supported by other Arab revolutions and protests everywhere, foremost of which being Syria, Libya and Yemen, the reality. However, reality reveals that the challenges facing media, with the Arab Spring, did not recede, that the targeting and besiegement of media are increasing, and that the violations against media & journalists are continuing and taking a variety of shapes and forms.
After decades of discredit, Arab Media began to gain trust from their societies, specially who managed to get rid off completely or partially from the domination of the political and security authority, the Arab citizen become a partner in making media content through electronic interaction mediums. Nevertheless, citizens have not yet moved rapidly enough to build a societal system that defends media freedom as a societal right to knowledge. Furthermore, human rights organizations have not exerted sufficient efforts to make defending the freedom and independence of the media, and the security and safety of journalists, a priority in their work.
Support, defend and advocate media freedom has become curtail and urgent matter in order to face government repression against media and free speech especially the legislation that limit freedom of expression and freedom of media, by imposing stringent constraints, among which are detention, imprisonment, high financial fines and the absence of the right to access information.
The dangers to which journalists are exposed are not limited to legislation, but extend to include serious violations like targeting, physical assault and life threats committed by the government and the security apparatus, these violations are sometimes committed by societal forces affiliated with the authorities, practicing terror against the media under the very eyes of governments, without being held accountable, or committed with encouragement and support from governments. The list of risks, Journalists are facing in Arab countries includes also pressures and harassments at work and in livelihoods, which prevents the development of a nurturing environment that supports media freedom & media independency.
Hence, it becomes important to consolidate the efforts of those who believe in the media freedom and defend it, for the purpose of enlarging the circle of media defenders in society, build large alliances to support the freedom and independence of Arab media and limit violations affecting it.
The main objective of the Forum was support and defend media freedom through strengthen networking among media freedom defenders, and enhance collaboration between media professionals and human rights activists, in order to institutionalize media-freedom defense efforts, in addition to preparing an Arab strategy to support media independence and media freedom, reduce violations against it and enhance the societal environment nurturing the media.
the first Forum aimed at achieving this through:
- Identifying main challenges facing the Arab media, especially during the Arab Spring era.
- Build a better understanding of the role of media in civic uprisings and social protests in the Arab countries.
- Discussing and identifying challenges facing media freedom defenders in the Arab world.
- Prepare a strategy & work plan to institutionalize the efforts of Arab defenders.
- Set conceptions for work mechanisms, and practical plans to limit violations against the media.
- Coordinate efforts with international organizations to support regional efforts in enhancing Arab media freedom, and protecting Arab journalists,
- Support international efforts aiming at ratifying a special international convention to protect journalists in areas of conflict, and adopting an international Emblem for media professionals.
Participants’ Groups in the Forum:
The participants in the forum were active at least in one of the following fields:
- Active media practitioners in defending media freedom and free speech
- Active bloggers on social networks in promoting freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Legal experts interested in defending freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Human Rights activists in the field of freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Parliamentarians interested in freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Judges interested in freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Active artists and actors in supporting freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Active researchers in issues related to freedom of expression and media freedom.
- Local, regional and international civil society organizations specialized in defending media freedom, freedom of expression and human rights.
The forum hosted around 100 prominent participants from Jordan, Arab countries and international organizations defending media freedom around the world, the list of hosted invitees included 75 prominent regional and international journalists, lawyers, parliamentarians, bloggers, activists, artists and public figures
To find out the names of the participants in the first forum Click here
Partners and sponsors:
The forum funded by: The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Amman.
- Jordan Kuwait Bank
- Cairo Amman Bank
- Jordan Commercial bank
- Jordan Industrial Estates Company
- Al-Arabiya Channel
- Royal Jordanian