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“These are dark days for freedom of expression in Iraq’s Kurdistan region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.“Instead of ensuring the justice system investigates high-level corruption, the Kurdistan Regional Government is ignoring its own laws to protect free speech and assembly, and using “laws” that are not in force to silence dissent.”

During 2012, KRG security forces are reported to have arrested and detained at least 50 journalists, critics, and opposition political activists arbitrarily, and prosecuted at least seven of them on criminal charges concerning insulting or defaming public figures, according to information obtained by Human Rights Watch during six visits to the Kurdistan Region, the most recent in November and December. One former customs official, Akram Abdulkarim, has been in jail for more than a year without trial on national security charges after he accused leading members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the two parties in the coalition that rules the Kurdistan Region, of siphoning off customs revenues.

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“These are dark days for freedom of expression in Iraq’s Kurdistan region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.“Instead of ensuring the justice system investigates high-level corruption, the Kurdistan Regional Government is ignoring its own laws to protect free speech and assembly, and using “laws” that are not in force to silence dissent.”

During 2012, KRG security forces are reported to have arrested and detained at least 50 journalists, critics, and opposition political activists arbitrarily, and prosecuted at least seven of them on criminal charges concerning insulting or defaming public figures, according to information obtained by Human Rights Watch during six visits to the Kurdistan Region, the most recent in November and December. One former customs official, Akram Abdulkarim, has been in jail for more than a year without trial on national security charges after he accused leading members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the two parties in the coalition that rules the Kurdistan Region, of siphoning off customs revenues.

Journalists and civil society representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia taking part in the conference titled “From traditional to online media: best practices and perspectives” will look at international standards and national practices regarding freedom of the media in social media and online broadcast regulation.
[…]
The participants of the conference will have an opportunity to discuss regulatory practices in traditional and online media and examine possible regulatory policy responses in a master class held by by Albany Associates, an international communications firm working with governments and broadcast regulatory agencies.

Journalists and civil society representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia taking part in the conference titled “From traditional to online media: best practices and perspectives” will look at international standards and national practices regarding freedom of the media in social media and online broadcast regulation.
[…]
The participants of the conference will have an opportunity to discuss regulatory practices in traditional and online media and examine possible regulatory policy responses in a master class held by by Albany Associates, an international communications firm working with governments and broadcast regulatory agencies.

Without a robust legal and regulatory framework, institutionally protected public and private media and a politically and financially independent broadcast regulator and public service broadcaster, it will not be possible to meet the challenges of digitalization and harmonization with international standards, let alone create a free and vibrant media environment. […] There is also an urgent need for the state to completely withdraw from the media market and to foster an environment conducive to free media and safety of journalists. […] The case of journalist Laszlo Sass showed that there is a need to fully decriminalize defamation as the threat of criminal sanctions for speech offences has the potential to stifle public debate.