Even when human rights have been won they still need to be defended against further attacks. Four outspoken Egyptian newspaper editors have discovered this to their cost.
The Guardian reports today that, despite a relative liberalisation of the press in recent years, the editors have been sentenced to a year in prison for defaming President Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal and fined. The judge is reported to have praised the president, his son and the ruling party while reading the verdict.
Also according to the Guardian, 24-hour TV channels have played an important part in the recent political events that threaten President Musharraf in Pakistan.Ironically, it was the General himself who opened the floodgates to dozens of new stations when he seized power in 1999. He realised that Pakistanis had been getting their news via satellite from private Indian stations.
Like the authorities in Egypt, he recently tried to put the genie back in the bottle but it was too late. When policemen smashed into the offices of one station, Geo, viewers watched the destruction live on air and were outraged, forcing General Musharraf to apologise.
But the Guardian acknowledges that this small screen boom masks a serious threat to press freedom with 24 Pakistani journalists killed in the last seven years and 81 injured. This year, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists put Pakistan in the top 10 backsliders countries where media conditions have rapidly deteriorated. Ethiopia surprise, surprise - was another, along with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba and Russia. Take action here
Freedom of expression, of course, also finds an outlet on the big screen and if youre a big film fan like me youll have been eager to see whats coming up at this years London Film Festival. The Times, which sponsors the Festival, has announced that London will host the World premiere of a thriller tackling the War on Terror.
Amnesty is supporting a documentary, In Prison My Whole Life, which also premieres at the Festival, on the 25th October and same day at the Rome Film Festival. Its directed by Marc Evans and produced by Livia Firth and Nick Goodwin Self, with the actor Colin Firth the films executive producer.The writers Alice Walker and Noam Chomsky, as well as the musicians Mos Def, Snoop Dogg and Steve Earle, all appear during its 90 minutes.
The film examines the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther Party activist who has been in prison for murder in the United States since 1981, much of that time facing a death sentence. There are serious doubts about the fairness of Mumia Abu-Jamals original trial and he is currently appealing against his conviction. Amnesty international is calling for fresh trial.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.