Against a backdrop of declining political rights and civil liberties worldwide, Internews Network has launched an ambitious global program to spur media coverage of human rights and reform of media and Internet law and policy.
Internews’ program is part of a two-year, $10 million grant from the US Agency for International Development to a consortium of US-based non-governmental organizations to bolster human rights protections, particularly freedom of association, freedom of expression, and access to justice. Known as the Rights Consortium, the effort is headed by Freedom House and also includes the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and Global Rights.
“This program will give local journalists and advocates the tools they need to advance freedom of expression and deepen public understanding of human rights,” said Marjorie Rouse, Internews Vice President for Program Development. “Through this program, we will convene people across regions to exchange experiences and share lessons learned throughout the human rights community.”
Improving and Expanding Human Rights Coverage.
Under the grant, Internews will provide training for journalists on covering human rights. Following a competitive process, the top trainees from the seminars will receive production grants of up to $10,000 to produce content that stimulates discussion on issues of human rights and freedom of expression. Vehicles will include traditional media as well as online platforms such as blogging, social networks, and multimedia approaches.
Given the importance of women’s issues as a human rights concern in the countries targeted for training, the human rights training and production grants will have a gender focus, with special attention to two areas: gender-based violence and the economic empowerment of women.
Based on global experience from the workshops, Internews will develop an online toolkit that serves as a comprehensive, user-friendly tool for journalists and human rights organizations. Highlighting best practices and case studies drawn from the trainings held across regions under this program, the toolkit will include practical resources and activities, monitoring and assessment tools, advocacy materials, interview guidelines, and training modules.
Strengthening Access to Information and Freedom of Expression
The law and policy aspect of Internews’ human rights program is based on the idea that media activists fighting to establish modern, free and open legal frameworks for media need substantive knowledge of media law. They also need strategic skills in advancing a reform agenda and in building coalitions for reform.
To help address both sets of needs, Internews is leading a regional networking program for local media and Internet policy advocates in countries with significant Muslim populations, bringing these advocates together at the regional and global levels. The goal is to bolster knowledge of media and Internet law and policy in target countries and strengthen strategic skills of advocates to advance reform.
Through support to indigenous organizations, Internews will address the issues of decriminalization of libel; digital transition; licensing and registration issues; content control (both on-line and on-air); laws governing Internet content; copyright and creative commons law; intellectual property rights; and the impact that laws on religion have on freedom of expression and media laws.
The aim of these activities is to improve regional coordination in combating emerging threats to the free flow of information and freedom of expression. Source: Internews