You can read the abstracts and bios of our speakers here.

Silencing Dissent: The Weaponisation of Law in Turkey’s War on Free Speech
Yaman Akdeniz
Istanbul Bilgi University

Turkey has a long history of censorship and criminalisation of speech, which extends well beyond traditional media outlets and has been encroaching on the Internet and social media platforms since 2007. In fact, the weaponization of the law during the current AKP regime has become a key tool for the government to silence dissent and stifle critical voices, leading to a worrying decline in democracy and human rights in the country. The legal measures not only targets the media and journalists but also academics, NGOs and human rights defenders among others with a significant silencing effect. Such legal methods include criminal investigation and prosecutions and purging of academics from civil service during the state of emergency period as well as detentions and arrest of journalists and human rights defenders alongside thousands of politically motivated access blocking decisions targeting Internet media outlets. The targeted groups including the author also increasingly face SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) cases in civil courts answering various defamation claims. All of these ongoing interventions are carried out within the “boundaries of the law” and has led to a significant decline in political discourse, with freedom of expression being replaced by government-controlled narratives. This paper will present a critical evaluation of the current state of freedom of expression in Turkey, in view of prevalent practices in the post-coup period which point to a widespread pattern of misusing the judicial process to silence with a special focus on academics, human rights defenders and Internet media.

Author Bio: Dr. Yaman Akdeniz is a Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University and one of the founders of İFÖD, the Freedom of Expression Association ( Akdeniz has been working in the field of freedom of expression, freedom of information and Internet freedom since the mid 1990s and has successfully applied thrice to the Constitutional Court to overturn access blocking decisions involving Twitter, YouTube and the Wikipedia platforms from Turkey as one of the users of these platforms. Akdeniz also successfully challenged the Turkish Government at the European Court of Human Rights with regards to the access blocking of YouTube from Turkey. Akdeniz won the prestigious Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Award in 2016 and was also awarded the Embassy of Canada Annual Human Rights Award in 2022.

Media Law and Journalism in Post-Colonial Africa – The Case of The Gambia
Sulayman Bah
Birmingham City University

This paper focuses on legal repression and control of journalism in The Gambia, an African country that, like others on the continent, has a contemporary legal and regulatory landscape shaped by its colonial past. It addresses wider issues of debate relating to the political economy of journalism by investigating how law influences journalism practice and impact on press freedom. While political economy analyses of journalism have focused on its regulation, they rarely have a close engagement with the law. Using doctrinal research through an analysis of case law, this paper offers an understanding of how media legislation is repressive to critical journalism and restrictive to media freedom in The Gambia. I found that journalism practice in The Gambia is compounded with political repression and legal uncertainties, where court decisions against journalists are inconsistent with international human rights standards. This paper points out that while the Gambian Constitution paradoxically provides protection for press freedom and freedom of expression as required in a modern democracy, the Criminal Code is a step backwards to the standards applied during colonial rule. This paper argues that the lack of freedom of expression in The Gambia had an impact on academic freedom, as evident in the arrests of researchers.

Author Bio: Sulayman Bah has just completed his Phd in Media Law and Journalism in Post-Colonial Africa at the Birmingham City University. He currently teaches at the Birmingham City University and Birmingham City University International College.

Journalists’ views on the legal and training needs for protecting digital safety and promoting freedom of expression
Gever Verlumun Celestine
University of Nigeria

The virtual environment has been identified as one of the places where journalists face safety threats such as harassment, intimidation, threats to family members, among others. This reality poses a serious problem to the freedom of expression and other forms of human rights. Promoting digital safety is important because it will contribute in promoting freedom of expression as well as other forms of human rights. Despite this, limited studies have been conducted on ways of protecting digital safety and promoting freedom of expression. The objective of this study is to examine the views of journalists on the legal and training needs for promoting protecting digital safety and promoting freedom of expression. The Descriptive survey will be used for the study while a total of 362 journalists will be examined. The sampling technique will be simple random sampling while a structured questionnaire will be used as the instrument for data collection. The researcher will use descriptive statistics like percentages, mean and standard deviation to analyse the result. The hypotheses will be tested using a one-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), while results will be presented in tables and charts. It is expected that the outcome of this study will provide the needed empirical evidence for promoting the safety of journalists, freedom of expression and other forms of human rights.

Author Bio: Gever, Verlumun Celestine is a lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He holds a PhD in mass communication. His area of specialisation in his doctoral programme is multimedia and journalism. Gever is an enthusiastic communication scholar with publications in Web of Science and Scopus indexed journals. He has published widely in areas like media and conflict, political communication, new media, gender as well as representational communication. Gever is grounded in communication research, data analysis and research methodologies.

The impact of negative workplace conditions inside Egyptian media houses on journalists mental and physical health safety: A quantitative study on the Egyptian journalist
Hanan Elgendi
Alahram Canadian University in Egypt

The present study focuses on the impact of negative workplace conditions on the Egyptian journalist inside media houses and how it negatively affects their physical and psychological conditions The research was based on qualitative data in which 130 respondents were selected through questionnaires and also in-depth interviews with officials within the agencies that support journalists psychologically in Egypt and worldwide. Results shows that cuts, poor salaries, irregular incomes, working long hours, late –night deadlines, unqualified bosses, lack of good health insurance, exposure to radiation in the studios, low income after retirement, busy news rooms with bad lighting and lack of fresh air, and other factors caused moral injury and physical diseases. Results revealed that journalists show psychological symptoms such as lack of sleep, nightmares, self-flagellation, loneliness, anger, fear, fuggy lack of focus, isolation, thinking of suicide and physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach ulcers, back pains, dizziness, lethargy, temporary paralysis of the face, numbness, neck and back pain, breast cancer and also negative social impacts, such as resignation from work, not presenting any creativity at work, changing the field of work, gossip, silence, divorce, moving away from family and friends, intense immersion in work. Therefore the study revealed that such incidents are significant factors in affecting the psychological wellbeing of journalists.

Author Bio: Hanan is a University Teacher, Researcher and Journalist. She worked in wide ranges of roles in both journalism and academia. And have a fist hand-on the job for journalism as being a news reporter and editor for more than 15 years in BBC and Al-Ahram newspaper and several media houses . She had PhD degree on journalism safety during conflict times. she is leading academic to promote the study of journalism safety . she was the first Egyptian academics to create and teach the journalism safety teaching models in the Egyptian universities . Hanan also is a media safety trainer teaching Hostile environment courses , Gender-Sensitive reporting and dealing with trauma on war and peace . Hanan also is a media safety trainer in Cairo center for conflict resolution and peacemaking in Africa.

Understanding the culture of impunity from a macro perspective
Basyouni Ibrahim Hamada
Qatar University

The culture of impunity means simply the inability to hold the perpetrators of journalism’s crimes accountable. Perpetrators of violations have to be accused and if found guilty sentenced to suitable punishments. The majority of those who killed or assassinated journalists during war and peace times have not been subjected to appropriate inquires that encourage others to do the same without paying the price. The consequences of such culture threatens freedom of the press, the right to know, corruption fighting, democracy, human rights and the wellbeing of the society. Despite the efforts of UNESCO and UN to end this culture the number of killed journalists everywhere is rising and the culture of impunity is dominant. This means that the global community has to initiate different measures to fight impunity and to protect journalists. The current initiative is mainly a legal, one dimensional, micro – based approach. The missing, instead, is a political, economic cultural and macro approach that not only deal directly with perpetrators and violators of journalism crimes but with the overall societal and global atmosphere in which such culture survives and perpetrators commit their crimes. In consistent with the macro approach, the definition of journalists’ safety has to be revisited and re- measured to cover the physical, digital, psychological and financial dimensions of this concept.

Author Bio: Dr. Basyouni Hamada is Professor of Communication and Public Opinion and Chair of the Department of Mass Communication, Qatar University. His teaching and research focus on the interdisciplinary areas of political communication, journalism ethics, Arab media systems, de-Westernizing communication studies and social media and transformation of journalism profession. His articles appeared in highly regarded refereed journals such as Digital Journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism Studies, Javnost-The Public, Journal of International Communication, Journalism Practice, Global Media and Communication, Journal of Arab and Muslim Communication Research, and Global Media Journal. He taught at several universities including Cairo University, American University in Cairo, International Islamic University Malaysia, United Arab Emirates University and Nonwestern University in Doha. He is on the Editorial Board of many international refereed journals, and the Book Reviews Editorial Board of ‘Digital Journalism.

Climate Media Stories in The Global South
Kiran Hassan
Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Why do climate media stories suffer in the global south? (Case study – Pakistan 2022 floods). Pakistan suffered its deadliest floods in August 2022 and remains the 8th most vulnerable country on the global index of countries facing acute global climate crisis. The country’s biblical level floods as a result of climate catastrophe is one example of a rapidly and dangerously declining natural environment in South Asia. As scorching heatwaves, colossal floods, prolonged droughts and repeated earthquakes grip the most populated part of the world, there is an urgent need to address the issue of how mainstream media is presenting these climate stories. Taking the case of 2022 floods in Pakistan, this paper aims to investigate why the mainstream media fails to raise the issues around climate change/ floods in their narrative. How media narratives can educate and prepare the public on one level and keep the government’s policy/ management towards climate disasters in check on another? How can the media improve on climate coverage in future? Drawing from MT Boykoff’s argument where he suggests that the mainstream media narratives has to be based and can benefit climate policy if it includes the experience of climate change most vulnerable communities in his book, who speaks for the climate? (Cambridge Press, 2012), this paper investigates how the complex politics of decision makers and Pakistani mainstream media have repeatedly failed to cultivate a connection between climate disasters like floods, the experience of the most climate affected communities and public perception in 2010 and 2022.

Author Bio: Dr Kiran Hassan is a research associate fellow and co-ordinator of the Media Freedom Initiative at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. She holds a PhD from the University of London in political communication. She was the South Asian expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and has taught International Relations at SOAS, University of London, and Global Communication at NYU. Her current research focuses on emerging media trends with regards to climate change, digital rights and the rise of China within Commonwealth countries. She continues to publish and present her research at global platforms.

The Role of Mob Censorship and its Consequences for Journalism and Freedom of Expression
Jennifer R. Henrichsen (corresponding author) and Martin Shelton
Washington State University

Mob censorship, which “expresses the will of ordinary citizens to exert power over journalists through discursive violence” is traditionally considered a grassroots phenomenon. However, within technically mediated systems, who is behind the mob is sometimes unclear. This paper assesses how the technical affordances of the internet and telecommunications networks complicate the identification of attackers and their motivations and multiply the forms of retaliation that attackers level against journalists to harm freedom of expression and implicate human rights more generally. This paper draws on 18 semi structured interviews with seven journalists and 11 professionals with experience defending news organizations, including security specialists, press freedom advocates, and newsroom infrastructure support staff. Through a constructivist grounded theory approach and in conversation with Lewis and Westlund’s (2015) 4A framework, we expand the analytical boundaries of mob censorship by revealing its characteristics and by showing that journalists and those defending news organizations do not reliably identify sources and motivations behind attacks, which may be grassroots in nature but may also be instigated by corporate or government actors. Journalists nonetheless infer attribution and motivation from the context surrounding attacks. In response to trauma inflicted by mob censorship, journalists have developed coping strategies from ignoring to reporting harassing behavior and setting digital boundaries. Systemic issues related to the lack of diversity, ongoing financial constraints, and journalistic norms of engagement within news organizations and a lack of holistic support from platforms, exacerbate repercussions from these attacks, harming journalism’s role in a democracy, curtailing freedom of expression, and implicating human rights more generally.

Author Bio: Dr. Jennifer R. Henrichsen is an Assistant Professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, USA. She is also an Affiliated Fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. She co-wrote the book, War on Words: Who Should Protect Journalists? (Praeger, 2011) and she co-edited the book, Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in a Surveillance State (Columbia University Press, 2017). She has been a consultant to UNESCO and published numerous articles in top peer-reviewed journals. A former Fulbright Research Scholar, she holds a Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Big Platforms and Disinformation: Curbing the spread
Irini Katsirea
University of Sheffield

In recent times, big platforms, under increasing pressure to curb the spread of disinformation, have engaged in moderation of journalistic content. These editorial-like judgements platforms make are carried out with little transparency or accountability. A high-profile example has been the short-lived closure of Ofcom regulated TalkRadio by YouTube for allegedly breaching its policies on medical misinformation related to Covid. This example has motivated the UK government to include provisions in the proposed Online Safety Bill to ensure that platforms put in place safeguards for journalistic content shared on their services. In the UK, TV and radio services are regulated by Ofcom, while the press is subject to a system of independent self-regulation. The Bill seeks to exempt news publishers’ websites, including below the line comments, from its online safety duties and to silo their social media presence from the platforms’ regulatory grip. Procedural safeguards are put in place both for content produced by ‘recognised news publishers’ and for wider ‘journalistic content’. However, the duty of care for journalistic content at large is far more tentative than the clear-cut exemption reserved to news publishers’ content. Also, the convoluted description of ‘recognised news publishers’ might enable outlets specialising in hate speech and disinformation to easily pass the threshold, while excluding certain bona fide journalistic outlets. This paper seeks to discuss whether it is possible to provide a more consistent protection of news media from online platforms’ moderation decisions.

Author Bio: Irini Katsirea studied at the Free University of Berlin, at the University of Leicester (LLM) and at Magdalene College, Cambridge (PhD). She is Reader in International Media Law at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests are in the areas of International and Comparative Media Law and Policy. She is the author of Press Freedom and Regulation in a Digital Era (OUP, forthcoming), Public Broadcasting and European Law. A Comparative Examination of Public Service Obligations in Six Member States (Kluwer, 2008) and of Cultural Diversity and European Integration in Conflict and in Harmony (Athens, Ant. N. Sakkoulas, 2001).

Threats to Arab Journalists in the Digital Authoritarianism, Post Arab Spring, and Post Covid-19 Era
Sahar Khamis
University of Maryland, College Park

When the Arab Spring uprisings erupted in 2011, they were initially accompanied by high hopes for democratic transformation (Lynch, 2012), coupled with an equally high trust in the democratizing and liberating potentials of digital media (Khamis and Vaughn, 2011; El Tantawy and Wiest, 2011). However, twelve years later, the Arab region suffered from serious backlashes in political freedom leading to tightening the governmental grip over the media and shrinking the margin of media freedom, amid an escalating wave of authoritarianism, in general, and digital authoritarianism, in particular (Khamis, 2019; 2020). These crackdowns on Arab journalists included various digital threats and online harassments, such as shutting down websites and hacking, blocking, trolling, and sabotaging journalists who express opposition to their authoritarian regimes. Other forms of harassment included online shaming and character assassination, which are particularly more damaging to Arab women journalists (Khamis and El-Ibiary, 2022). Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated many of these threats and challenges making Arab journalists’ performance of their roles even more dangerous. These included the issuance of cybercrime laws which enabled governments to arrest journalists under the charges of spreading misinformation. They also included shutting down more websites and tracing journalists through surveillance and contact tracing apps. My presentation will highlight these digital threats and escalating risks of online harassment facing Arab journalists today, through providing examples from different Arab countries.

Author Bio: Sahar Khamis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an expert on Arab and Muslim media and the former Head of the Department of Communication at Qatar University. She is an award-winning academic, media analyst, public speaker, radio host, and former human rights commissioner. She is the co-author of the books Islam Dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Egyptian Revolution 2.0: Political Blogging, Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and the co-editor of the book Arab Women’s Activism and Socio-Political Transformation: Unfinished Gendered Revolutions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

Negotiating safety risks in Ethiopia
Gezahgn Berhie Kidanu
NLA University and Bahir Dar University

The study raises what types of safety risks journalists in Ethiopia encounter and how they negotiate absence of safety across twelve media institutions. In so doing, it taps into consequences of compromised safety (Slavtcheva-Petkova et al. 2022), five imposing perceived pressures (Hanitzsch et al. 2019), and media and extra-media influences (Shoemaker & Reese 2014). From data gathered through fieldwork in January 2023, journalists faced a litany of safety risks such as military abduction, MIA, multiple arbitrary arrests, torture (interrogated at gunpoint, forced to sleep with dead bodies, and killed individuals in front of them), espionage, harassment, hate speech, office raid and confiscation of media equipment, demotion, and forced temporary lay-off. The most common palliative mechanism is self-censorship; journalists withhold information related to drought and starvation, mass people’s displacement, unacceptable military targets, civilian causality, death of NGO workers, and killings of migrants. A few showed resilience, including the 2023 International Women of Courage awardee Meaza Mohammed; they said they cognise “the hemlock of being a journalist”, and their “journey toward making the government accountable is up to Calvary”. Safety is also in tune with journalistic role performance for the likelihood of risk swelled as journalists pursue practising fourth estate journalism. Ultimately, the state apparatus is the leading powerhouse in manufacturing risks against journalists and exorcising freedom of the press in Ethiopia. Other findings include inadequate self-regulation efforts from the Ethiopian Media Council “press ombudsman”, which has 61 media member institutions, and digital media as a mixed blessing.

Author Bio: Gezahgn Berhie Kidanu has taught journalism and communication at Bahir Dar University and Jigjiga University for a decade. While he graduated with BA in Journalism and Communication with a minor in Law and MA in Media and Communication from Bahir Dar University, he is currently enrolled at NLA University – Norway for an MA in Global Journalism. As part of his graduate study, he took on “scrutiny of self-censorship: deliberating influences and safety of journalists in Ethiopia”. What prompted this thesis is the shape of absence of safety for journalists and impunity amid ethnic conflict and communal violence in Ethiopia.

Fighting Back against Harassment: Perspectives of Women Journalists from Eastern Africa and South Asia
Samiksha Koirala and Florence Namasinga Selnes
North South University and OsloMet

While the Internet and its associated multiple platforms has provided women journalists with opportunities to break gender-gaps in several professions including journalism, it has also come with several new challenges and exacerbated old ones. Feminist scholars argue that digital platforms can help to bring women’s concerns and feminist voices into the mainstream media.However, there has also been an increase in rampant online misogyny making it very difficult for women journalists to stay in their profession. Instead of simply focusing on understanding gendered risks associated with digital spaces, this study builds on scholarship concerned with overcoming the rampant problem of online harassment and violence against women journalists in Eastern Africa and South Asia. We draw on narratives of women media practitioners, obtained through 14 in-depth interviews, to examine the strategies they employ to fight against harassment in digital spaces. Various studies on harassment and women journalists focus on the plight of women, often portraying them as helpless victims. However, we argue that women journalists situated in the Global South are resilient and are working against all the odds to ensure diversity in the news media. Drawing from intersectional feminism, we highlight the agency of women journalists as an important factor in fighting harassment both online and offline, further arguing that lived experiences of global south women are varied and they are adopting various strategies. While we focus on strategies women journalists in the two regions adopt for fighting online harassment, we also reflect and put weight on the role of other stakeholders in mitigating the problem.

Author Bio: Dr. Samiksha Koirala is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media at the North South University, Bangladesh. She is a think tank member of Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen in Nepal. Koirala is also a Principal Investigator for Nepal for Worlds of Journalism Study. She has Ph.D. in Journalism and Gender from the University of Oslo, Norway. As a former journalist and a media researcher; Koirala has been closely with different academic institutions and UN agencies mainly in the area of gender and media, safety of journalists and online-based harassment.

Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression
Marta Martin
University of Alicante

The coercion of freedom of expression and academic freedom is a matter of recent concern. The guarantee of the free debate of ideas in the scientific and academic context seems to be threatened, as denounced by the Stanford Declaration, “Restoring Academic Freedom”, signed in November 2022 by more than a thousand professors. Evoking the 1967 Kalven Report of the University of Chicago, it urges respect for ideological neutrality on the part of all academic authorities. The same idea is reflected in the “Open letter to senators and deputies from Universitaris per la Convivència/…/ to incorporate the principle of ideological neutrality in the governing and representative bodies of universities”, signed in January 2023 by more than 1000 Spanish academics. Specifically, this letter is raised in view of the entry into force of the new law on universities (LOSU) March 2023 that eliminates the ideological neutrality of higher education institutions. In this context, a group of professors in Spain have proposed a research project that proposes a) to elaborate an instrument to know the perceptions about the levels of freedom of expression and academic freedom in Spanish universities, b) to know these perceptions, c) to delimit, if any, the threats facing Spanish science and higher education in terms of cancellation culture and lack of ideological neutrality of the institutions due to different circumstances, d) to promote good practices, and d) establish a mechanism to centralize and channel specific complaints. This paper presents the approach of the investigation.

Author Bio: Professor of Communication and Advertising at the University of Alicante. PhD in Information Sciences from the University of Navarra, with a thesis on the treatment of AIDS in the press, which resulted in the monograph “The reminder function of the media. Since then his research has focused on health communication, the reconstruction of social problems (with special attention to gender), and the foundations and ethics of communication. She has published more than fifty articles related to these topics in refereed journals, has written six monographs and manuals, and has participated in more than twenty competitive projects (European, national, and regional) related to these topics. She joined the Degree in Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Alicante (UA) in 1997. She is currently a Professor of Ethics in Advertising and General Information Theory. She was the academic secretary of the doctoral program of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UA and has been teaching the Doctoral Program in Social Welfare and Inequality and Public Health at the university. She participates in several doctoral and master courses at other universities. She is the director of the research group “COSOCO” (Communication and Knowledge Society) and a member of the consolidated research group “Public Health” of the UA and the High Performance Research Group in Media and Political Communication and the Public Policy Evaluation Group of the URJC. She has been a member of the Jury of Autocontrol Advertising and visiting professor at the University of Piura (Peru) at the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and visiting researcher at the IESE Business School and the City University of New York. She was a member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies from 2015 until 2019 when she resigned from her seat due to ethical incompatibility with some of the procedures of her group.

Counter-impunity developments in Mexico and Honduras: networks, psychological support, expanding international mechanisms
Tamsin Mitchell
Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM), University of Sheffield

Impunity for violence against journalists persists at over 90 percent in Mexico and Honduras, two of the most dangerous places to work as a reporter in Latin America and globally. Recent fieldwork in both countries (89 in-depth interviews with journalists and protection actors in 2018 and 2022-23) confirms that continuing impunity is leading to growing disenchantment with dedicated government protection mechanisms and prosecutors set up in the last decade. Both impunity itself and attempts to seek justice often lead to further attacks, discouraging victims and family members from speaking out, and generating fear and isolation. Journalists increasingly rely on self-protection. While impunity for human rights violations is the norm in these countries, the case of journalists is emblematic of restrictions on citizens’ right to freedom of expression, safety and access to justice, and also deprives people of information needed to access other rights. Yet there is a lack of public support for journalists, exacerbated in recent years by government rhetoric that routinely discredits them and other perceived opponents. A lack of unity and solidarity among journalists is a further obstacle to mobilisation. In response, journalists and their (I)NGO allies are expanding their counter-impunity strategies, including the growing use of: networks, to continue working as safely as possible and/or fighting for justice; tailored psychological support alongside legal support; and a greater variety of alternative/international mechanisms. In this paper, I will discuss these developments and some potential implications for human rights and journalism practice/scholarship.


Author Bio: Tamsin Mitchell is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM), University of Sheffield. She completed her PhD in Politics at the University of York’s Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2021. Tamsin is preparing a monograph (Routledge, 2024), which will offer a qualitative, comparative, bottom-up exploration of journalists’ strategies for addressing impunity for violence against journalists in Mexico and Honduras. Previously she worked in research/ advocacy for international human rights organisations for 15 years, including PEN International and the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, focusing on free expression in Latin America and Africa.

Combating freedom of expression through misogynist, heteronormative and patriarchal attacks against women journalists
Rui Alexandre Novais
Portuguese Catholic University /CEFH

During the four years of his recent presidential mandate in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro turned his political discourse into an ideological battle against political minorities and shattered the advancements conquered during the period before his election. And chiefly among them were women who although statistically a “majority” were backlashed with the clear intention to reinforce a misogynist and patriarchal discourse, which put in doubt the role of women in the places of power and decision, and to strengthen their subordinate position in society. In this crusade to leverage the white, conservative, heteronormative hegemony in Brazilian society, the former president elected women journalists as one of his targets, as a way to attack both the freedom of expression. The cases of aggression against women gained prominence during Bolsonaro’s mandate and frequently included references to the incompetence of the women journalists to demonstrate their professional inadequacy for the roles and functions they were performing. Drawing upon a qualitative analysis of the attacks perpetrated by Bolsonaro against the Brazilian women journalists from 2019 to 2022, as cataloged by FENAJ (National Federations of Journalists), this study aims to contribute to the somewhat limited scholarly literature devoted to the anti-media-feminism by the far-right in the Global South at analyzing how the misogynist, heteronormative, and patriarchal principles or ideologies were articulated in Bolsonaro’s attacks against women journalist to discredit the press and challenge the freedom of expression.

Author Bio: Rui Alexandre Novais (Ph.D. in Communication, Kent University) is an investigator and auxiliary professor of the Portuguese Catholic University /CEFH. The main interests are communication and journalism; the recent publications are about media and populism (Brazilian Journalism Research and Media & Journalism), journalistic safety in Portugal (Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies), and misinformation in political campaigns (Southern Communication Journal). He is a coordinator for Portugal and Cabo Verde of the Project Words of Journalism. Viviane Afonso de Araujo (Master in Political and Communication, Porto University – Portugal, and Bachelor in Law, Federal University of Minas Gerais – Brazil), is a business partner of Mangini Araujo Lawyers’ Association. Her main interests are communication law, gender studies, and critical theories.

Freedom of expression and the ban on Twitter usage in Nigeria by the Federal Government of Nigeria: criticism and consensus by the public/users
Ngozi Comfort Omojunikanbi
University of Port Harcourt

Press freedom, Freedom of speech and expression is perceived to still remain an illusion in Nigeria. Section 39 of the amended 1999 Nigerian constitution says (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. In 2020 Twitter was ban in Nigeria. The Nigerian Government on 5th June, 2021 officially put an indefinite ban on Twitter, restricting it from operating in Nigeria. The ban was condemned and applauded by many including some important personnel. The aim of this study therefore is to seek out the publics/users who expressed concern about this and interview them in order to expand our knowledge of their concerns as it infringes/affects human right to freedom of speech and expression, as such questions will, without doubt, resurface with the next ban. The research design for this study will be mixed method, thus, both quantitative and qualitative methods would be deployed. A discourse theoretical analysis of the data gathered will be employed. Individual differences are observed. We argue that the difference found can best be explained by the different perception of the action of the government by individual public/user. Keywords: Freedom of expression, Twitter, Nigeria, ban, criticism/consensus, UNESCO.

Author Bio: Omojunikanbi, Ngozi Comfort, a Nigerian, lecturers at the Department of Journalism and Media Studies,University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She has strong research interest in Crisis Communication, Journalism and Media, and Political Communication. She has published widely in academic journals (locally and internationally) and contributed chapters to edited books. Dr. Omojunikanbi is a member/scholar of African Council for Communication Education, European Communication Research and Education Association, Association of Media and Communication Researchers of Nigeria, Journalism Educators Foundation (JEF), Journalism Education and Trauma Research Group. Dr. Omojunikanbi’s dream team is made up of young scholars with great passion for research.

How Do Restrictions on Freedom of Expression Affect Practices of Impunity? A Case of a Complex Censorship Machinery
Öznur Sevdiren
Istanbul Bilgi University

A ‘culture of impunity’, as the European Court of Human Rights once called it, remains a cause for concern in Turkey. Effective investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of grave human rights violations is therefore crucial. As the case law of the European Court of Human Rights has established, an effective investigation and prosecution require public scrutiny to hold those who are responsible for serious human rights violations accountable. Yet, following certain improvements up until around 2015, the environment for media freedom has become increasingly unfavourable, in particular also due to the state of emergency between 2016 and 2018. Draconian restrictions on press freedom ranging from the blocking of Internet content to criminal proceedings including under terrorism legislation deprive the public of access to news related to human rights violations while creating a grave chilling effect and leading to self-censorship. In order to examine this complex machinery against media coverage of serious human rights violations by public officials, in the first part, I will try to explain the concept of impunity. I will then try to illustrate how critical media coverage of such cases has been hampered in practice. Finally, I will discuss the role of the media in addressing and eradicating impunity.

Author Bio: After receiving a law degree at the University of Istanbul, I completed my master study at the University of Sheffield and my doctoral research at the University of Cologne. I currently teach criminal, criminal procedure, and international criminal law at Istanbul Bilgi University. My current research funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung focuses on the restriction of the freedom of expression in relation to terrorism related offences in Turkey. I am the author of Alternatives to Imprisonment in England and Wales, Germany and Turkey (Springer, 2011) and the book on impunity legislation in Turkey (Türkiye’nin Cezasızlık Mevzuatı, Hafıza Merkezi, 2016).

Problems and perspectives related to the proposal of the EU for an anti-SLAPP Directive
Simona Veleva
American University in Bulgaria

The recent attempt of the European Commission to address the issue of Strategic Lawsuit(s) against Public Participation (SLAPP or SLAPPs) is triggered by the rising number of cases against journalists, whistle-blowers, human rights defenders and other active voices within the countries in the European Union, which sole aim is to repress them and their freedom of expression. SLAPPs have serious chilling effect on critics and are usually initiated by economically or politically powerful actors, which main objective is to burden people who spoke out against them with the costs of a heavy legal defense. At the same time, guaranteeing the rule of law and access to justice is paramount and finding the appropriate measures which will balance those two problems is essential. The current article aims to reflect on the main framework which the proposal of the Directive establishes and to analyze some landmark cases within the Union which show the necessity of such proposal. At the same time, the article addresses some of the legal problems which the Member States need to take into account with its future transposition of the Directive into national legislation. The practice of the ECtHR will be also included, as application of the European Convention of Human Rights is one of the main guarantees to deter SLAPP cases.

Author Bio: Simona Veleva is a lawyer and a PhD in the field of Constitutional Law and teaches Media Law and Ethics and Human rights in the Digital Sphere at American University in Bulgaria. She is a member of the Bulgarian media regulator – Council for electronic media.