Awareness Raising and Training is an important part of CLD’s activities and the main activities it undertakes in this area are found here.
As part of a joint project with the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and fraycollege, and with the support of fesmedia Africa of Friedrich-Bert-Stiftung (FES), CLD developed two online training courses on the right to information in Africa. One course is designed for information officers and other government officials (brochure available here). The other course is available to civil society and journalists (brochure available here). Both courses are offered free of charge with the aim of enhancing knowledge and awareness of the right to information across the continent.
CLD presented an online workshop designed to equip Myanmar lawyers with a knowledge of the basic international human rights standards governing freedom of expression. It covered the basic principles, such as the scope of the right to freedom of expression and the test for any restrictions to that right, followed by a discussion of how those principles are applied in certain contexts, such as in the digital space.
CLD’s Executive Director, Toby Mendel, gave a remote workshop on governance structures and codes of conduct for journalists’ associations. Myanmar has seen a growing number of journalist associations across the country, and this workshop provided an opportunity to discuss how to build strong associations.
CLD’s Executive Director, Toby Mendel, and Legal Officer, Laura Notess, hosted a webinar for members of the Global Forum for Media Development on The Right to Information in the Time of COVID-19. The webinar discussed the importance of the right to information during the global pandemic and the legal standards that govern whenever governments take action to limit the right to information. CLD also surveyed the changes to right to information laws and policies governments were enacting during the pandemic.
CLD’s Executive Director, Toby Mendel, led a training on applying the Comprehensive Methodology for Assessing RTI Implementation (“RTI Evaluation”) in conjunction with the Freedom of Information – Project Management Office within the Presidential Communications Operations Office in the Philippines. The RTI Evaluation (rti-evaluation.org) is a tool for comprehensively assessing progress towards implementing right to information laws.
A workshop in Yangon highlighted the importance of community radio for Myanmar and challenges resulting from delays in implementing the 2015 Broadcasting Law. Hosted by CLD, Protection Committee for Myanmar Journalists and Myanmar Press Freedom Center, with support from IMS and FOJO Media Institute, the workshop provided an opportunity for journalists to discuss and learn about legal standards for community broadcasting. Myanmar’s 2015 Broadcasting Law contains strong provisions supporting community radio, as described in a 2016 Note by CLD and IMS, but implementing By-laws are yet to be adopted.
The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) has been working closely with the Information Commissions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces in Pakistan to develop a sophisticated, comprehensive methodology for assessing the quality of implementation of right to information (RTI) laws. Although the methodology is being designed in Pakistan, it will be easy to adapt it for other jurisdictions.
The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) (Canada), Transparency Maroc (TM), Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Maharat Foundation (Lebanon) launched their project on Building Opportunities for Civil Society Engagement with the League of Arab States with a workshop in Rabat on 22-23 March 2018. The project seeks to explore ways to enhance transparency and opportunities for participation in the work of the League.
The workshop, which was attended by civil society and media representatives, discussed the serious democratic deficit at the League as compared to other inter-governmental organisations (IGOs), including regional bodies like the Council of Europe and Organization of American States. Compared to these other IGOs, the League of Arab States releases far less information about its activities and operates in a far less participatory fashion.
Information Commissioners from Sri Lanka and India undertook a mission to Mexico’s National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI), the oversight body in that country, last week to exchange best practices and experiences regarding oversight of the right to information. During the technical visit, on 7-8 March 2018, they met with different local actors both within INAI and externally, while on 9 March 2018 they participated in a public workshop. The visit was organised by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) with the support of The Social Architects in Sri Lanka, and a former Information Commissioner of Canada also participated.
“The rich exchanges that took place during this visit will hopefully contribute to the strengthening of each participating commission’s work,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director, CLD. “This visit demonstrates the benefits of South-South knowledge exchanges to building capacity to overcome right to information challenges.”
During the technical visit, INAI showcased information about its insitutional arrangements and practices. Representatives of civil society and regulated entities in Mexico also shared their persepectives regarding the implementation of the right to information. During the workshop, titled Information Oversight Bodies in North America and South Asia: An Exchange of Views, participants discussed the systemic strengths and weaknesses relating to oversight of to information in each of their countries and shared ideas about how to create truly open public administrations or transparency by design.
Leading civil society groups, media lawyers from around the country and international experts met on 27 January 2018 to discuss proposals to reform laws which restrict freedom of expression online. Over the last few years more than 100 cases, mostly for defamation, have been brought under these laws, involving journalists, political actors and human rights defenders. The aim of the workshop was to agree on media reform proposals that will limit abusive cases and support Myanmar’s transition to democracy.
“It is very important to try to generate consensus among civil society organisations regarding proposals to reform laws which are being used to restrict freedom of expression online,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director, CLD. “This workshop provided an opportunity for participants to discuss very concrete law reform proposals.”
The workshop focused on three laws in particular, the 2004 Electronic Transactions Law, the Official Secrets Act, 1923 and the 2013 Telecommunications Law. A set of concrete draft proposals for reform of the most problematical provisions in these laws was discussed at the workshop, with participants putting forward ideas for further development of the proposals.
The event was organised by Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), with support from International Media Support (IMS) and FOJO Media Institute. It took forward earlier discussions on the issue, including a workshop hosted by MMLN and CLD on 9 December 2017. The workshop was followed by a General Assembly meeting of MMLN members.
“MMLN has made enormous progress in the three years since it was founded with support from CLD and IMS,” said Than Zaw, (then) Secretary of the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network. “We sucessfully elected a new Executive Committee, which provides us with an opportunity for renewal and the involvement of both old and new members in running MMLN. MMLN will continue to develop the proposals to reform these three laws and, together with civil society groups and journalists, we will then advocate for law reform.”
On December 17th 2017, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) concluded a joint training programme for senior information officers from more than 30 different public bodies with the Nepal National Information Commission (NIC). The three-day programme focused on a range of issues including practical steps information officers can take to improve citizens’ access to information, the wider benefits of the right to information, regional developments, classification of information and future directions for information officers and the NIC.
“This was a sort of upgrade training for officers who were already familiar with the basic rules and systems for the right to information”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “It provided an opportunity for a more in-depth look at needs and ways forward which will hopefully lead to concrete improvements in RTI systems in Nepal.”
“Information is the fuel that drives democracy”, said Krishna Hari Baskota, Chief Information Commissioner at NIC. To illustrate the point, he showed a picture of a car with ‘democracy’ as its licence plate being fuelled from a petrol pump titled ‘right to information’.
This event was the first international training conducted by NIC and the first formal collaboration between NIC and CLD. It was part of a wider programme of activities being undertaken by NIC which includes capacity building directed at public officials, wider awareness raising outreach to the public and systemic development of the NIC as a key RTI institution.
The Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) organised a workshop with civil society groups and lawyers from across the country on 9 December to discuss reform of laws which restrict freedom of expression online, including the Electronic Transactions Law, Official Secrets Act, Telecommunications Law, News Media Law and certain provisions of the Penal Code. Numerous cases have been brought under these laws, most of which were brought for political purposes.
In December 2017, CLD launched a Digital Security Guide for Journalists. The Guide is a simple, accessible tool to help journalists protect their communications and digital devices against hacking, surveillance and other forms of digital harassment. It was prepared by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) in collaboration with International Media Support (IMS), FOJO Media Institute and the Myanmar Press Council (MPC).
“Given the high risk of attacks, journalists around the world need to put in place at least basic digital security measures,” said Toby Mendel, Executive, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD). “This Guide, available in both English and Burmese, provides working journalists with hands-on tools about how to protect themselves against digital attacks.”
“Enhancing digital security for journalists is a priority for the Press Council,” said U Thiha Saw, Secretary of the Myanmar Press Council. “The MPC will do its best to make sure that as many journalists as possible can access this Guide, which provides them with simple and practical advice on how to protect themselves online.”
The launch event was attended by some 50 journalists from around the country, including a number working for ethnic media outlets. It is just the first step in disseminating the Guide, which organisers hope will be widely shared and disseminated in both electronic and physcial versions.
The Guide is available in English and Burmese at:
A regional workshop on the right to information held in Beirut from 8-9 June 2017, bringing together participants from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, and hosted by Social Media Exchange, the Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support, has agreed to create a regional network of right to information activists. This commitment was contained in a Workshop Statement adopted by participants.
“The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for activists to discuss challenges with moving forward on the right to information in the region”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “It is very encouraging that it managed to agree a framework for ongoing regional discussions and consultations on this important issue.”
Information officers from government ministries and public bodies in Jordan met today at the National Library in a networking event to foster debate around creating a “community of practice” for these officers. Under the patronage of HE Dr. Mohammed Al Momani, Minister of State for Media Affairs and government spokesperson, the networking event was a follow-up to the successful trainings on the implementation of the Access to Information (ATI) Law organised by UNESCO Amman Office, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and Department of the National Library as part of the EU funded and UNESCO implemented “Support to Media in Jordan” Project.
On 14 February 2017, UNESCO and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) held a full-day workshop in the capital of Myanmar, Nay Pyi Taw, for officials from the Government, military and both upper and lower houses of Parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw), as well as the Parliamentary support body, the Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues. The focus of the workshop was on international standards relating to the right to information and broadcasting.
“It is important that key official stakeholders, and especially parliamentary bodies, have a good understanding of human rights standards in these areas”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “We are hopeful that amendments to the Broadcasting Law and a draft right to information law will come before Parliament soon.”
“UNESCO has been working on these issues with a range of local stakeholders since 2012”, said Min Jeong Kim, Head of Office, UNESCO Myanmar. “Raising awareness about international standards in these areas is a core area of engagement for UNESCO, and we hope to be doing more of this in future.”
Discussions about a right to information law have been ongoing in Myanmar for some time now, including a debate on the matter before the Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues which also took place on 14 February, and which Mendel also attended. A strong Broadcasting Law was adopted in August 2105 but implementation has been stymied by the fact that the National Broadcasting Council, the main regulatory body, was not appointed within the six months envisaged in the Law, in part due to the change of government. Technical amendments to the Law are now needed to extend the six months and allow for the appointment of the Council.
Last week the first of several trainings on the implementation of the Access to Information (ATI) Law was held at the National Library in Amman. The first 3-day training session is one of five sessions being organized jointly by UNESCO Amman Office, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and Department of the National Library as part of the EU funded and UNESCO implemented “Support to Media in Jordan” Project.
The trainings, taking place between January and March 2017, are targeting all 60 information officials in every government Ministry and other public bodies in Jordan, as well as several journalists and local trainers from non-governmental organizations and other bodies who will be able to carry on future training.
A workshop hosted by the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) on 21 January provided the setting for lawyers from across the country to agree that the Electronic Transactions Law and Telecommunications Law requires immediate reform. The discussion focused on the need to repeal the criminal defamation standards in the two laws (in sections 34(d) and 66(d), respectively), both of which have been used to imprison government critics.
“Democracy is not just about holding elections, but is also about having a system which respects the fundamental rights of people, including to criticise their leaders,” said Michael Karanicolas, Senior Legal Officer, CLD. “These laws have no place in a democratic system, and should be scrapped to allow freedom of expression to take root.”
In addition to problematical criminal defamation rules, participants noted several technical problems with the laws, according to which individuals could be held liable for forwarding an email without the consent of its original author. The event feeds into a broader advocacy movement, including a major protest against the Telecommunications Law that took place on 22 January in Yangon.
“Myanmar’s legal community has an important role to play by pushing for reform of problematical laws, such as the Electronic Transactions Law and the Telecommunications Law,” said Than Zaw, Secretary of the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network.
Over the past few days, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), with support from International Media Support and FOJO Media Institute, hosted a series of workshops with its partners, the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN), Pyi Gyi Khin (PGK), the Civil Society RTI Technical Working Group and the Myanmar Press Council (MPC). The workshops focused on the right to information and content restrictions in various Myanmar laws. The latter was particularly timely as senior representatives of the Eleven Media Group were taken into custody on allegations of having breached the defamation provisions in the 2013 Telecommunications Law while a CLD sponsored workshop on this was taking place.
“Myanmar has made significant progress in reforming its media laws,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “But there is still an urgent need to reform the content restrictions in other laws and to adopt a right to information law.”
Although just 12% of the population of Myanmar has access to the Internet, online speech is becoming an increasingly important theme in debates around freedom of expression. On 3rd September, the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN), the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), FOJO Media Institute and International Media Support hosted an event for lawyers to discuss ongoing challenges to digital freedom in Myanmar.
“Today’s policies are setting a tone for online speech that will be increasingly important as more people connect,” said Michael Karanicolas, Senior Legal Officer of CLD. “It is important to have a regulatory structure in place which promotes a vibrant online discourse, with all the human rights benefits that bestows.”
The workshop, held in September 2016, which was attended by 45 lawyers, featured a presentation from Robert Sann Aung, a well-respected human rights defender who has represented defendants charged under the country’s problematic Electronic Transactions Law for statements made online. Yadanar Tun, of the Myanmar ICT Development Organisation, followed with a discussion about digital security, introducing participants to the basics of how to stay safe online.
“Myanmar’s lawyers have an important role to play in the discussion about regulating freedom of expression online,” said Than Zaw, Secretary of the MMLN. “However, as human rights advocates, we are also potential targets for online attack. It is important for lawyers to understand how to protect themselves.”
In May 2016, the Centre for Law and Democracy, with support from International Media Support (IMS) and FOJO Media Institute, has hosted workshops with two of their partners – the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN) and Pyi Gyi Khin (PGK) – to discuss current freedom of expression law reform issues in Myanmar, focusing on the regulation of broadcasting, public service broadcasting and the right to information (RTI).
“Civil society has become increasingly engaged around key freedom of expression issues in Myanmar,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “It is a privilege for us to be able to work with organisations like MMLN and PGK to promote democratic reform.”
The new Myanmar government has been reviewing the Broadcasting Law, which focuses on private broadcasters, and discussing the content of the By-Law which is needed to implement the Law. CLD participated in a dialogue on these issues hosted by the Ministry of Information in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, last week. A workshop with MMLN focused on Regulation of Broadcasting – Private and Public. At the workshop, MMLN agreed to become more engaged in the Broadcast Law reform and implementation process.
A second workshop with PGK focused on the development of RTI legislation. The discussion started out by analysing the draft RTI law released by the Ministry of Information in February 2016 and the response of civil society to that draft. The second part of the workshop provided an opportunity to discuss key standards civil society would like to see in any RTI law.
“An increasingly large range of civil society groups are engaging on the right to information,” said Nwezin Win, Executive Director of PGK. “Discussions like this support that engagement and allow us to forge common positions on key campaign issues.”
The Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support held a seminar on Promoting Journalists’ Safety: Building an Effective Safety Mechanism, as a side event at the main UNESCO World Press Freedom Day event in Helsinki. The purpose of the event is to host a debate on the Discussion Paper, Supporting Freedom of Expression: A Practical Guide to Developing Specialised Safety Mechanisms, prepared by the Centre for Law and Democracy in collaboration with UNESCO and launched on 21 April 2016.
“It is very important that the Discussion Paper is debated and used”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “We hope that participants at the event will take the Paper back to their constituents and use it for purposes of planning and supporting national safety mechanisms in different countries.”
The Discussion Paper focuses on specialised formal safety mechanisms which aim to provide protection to journalists and others who are attacked for exercising their right to freedom of expression and to combat the impunity which all too often prevails in relation to the perpetrators. Such mechanisms are in place in a few countries and are being seriously considered in a few more, but they deserve a lot more attention as a key safety tool.
“In order to improve our response to the serious safety concerns that face local journalists around the world, it is imperative that we share the best practices available on setting up national safety mechanisms for journalists – mechanisms that are locally anchored and led. This Discussion Paper aims to do just that,” says Jesper Højberg, Executive Director of International Media Support.
The Seminar is being moderated by Jesper Højberg, Director, International Media Support, and the speakers are:
• Toby Mendel, Executive Director, Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD)
• Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO
• Ms. Sophie Busson, Advocacy Advisor, Reporters without Borders (RSF)
• Tahmina Rahman, Director, Bangladesh and South Asia, Article 19
Those interested in joining in the discussion are encouraged to tweet on #MediaSafetyMech.
In March 2016, civil society representatives from across Myanmar, representing a range of diverse interests, met in Yangon to found the National Right to Information Working Group. The Working Group is the result of over a year of advocacy and awareness raising efforts by Pyi Gyi Khin (PGK), a Myanmar-based NGO, and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), which have worked together over the last year to host workshops across the country to build support for the right to information.
“Myanmar’s civil society strongly supports the right to information,” said Nwezin Win, Executive Director of PGK. “Having brought stakeholders from across the country together on this issue, we look forward to uniting to take this conversation forward.”
The participants unanimously approved a Charter for the Working Group, and agreed on a national advocacy strategy for the coming year.
“As Myanmar’s first democratically elected government prepares to assume power, we urge them to consider the right to information as a priority issue,” said CLD’s Senior Legal Officer, Michael Karanicolas. “The election in November was an important step, but elections are just one aspect of a healthy democracy. We hope that they will demonstrate a commitment to this important right.”
In addition to the civil society workshop, last week CLD and PGK held an event for lawyers on the right to information in collaboration with the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network, and a training for the News Media Council.
On 25 July 2015, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN), with the support of International Media Support (IMS), carried out a workshop for lawyers on defamation law and restrictions on freedom of expression in the name of national security. The workshop, which involved 25 lawyers from Yangon, is the latest in a series of events arranged by the MMLN, a network of lawyers dedicated to promoting freedom of expression which was founded in 2014.
The topics were chosen due to their relevance to Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition. Over the past week, two editors from the Myanmar Herald were convicted of criminal defamation for an interview they published which criticised President Thein Sein. Their lawyer, U Zaw Linn, was among the speakers.
“Criminal defamation laws have no place in a democratic country and they certainly should not be used to stifle criticism against the Head of State,” said CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel.
The workshop also discussed the Bi Mon Tae Nay case, in which five journalists, editors and publishers were charged with making statements which “alarmed the public” after their journal erroneously reported that Aung San Suu Kyi had formed an interim government, a subject which, according to international standards, does not touch on national security.
“It is important for Myanmar’s legal community to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our country’s laws, particularly where they impact on important human rights,” said Than Zaw, Secretary of the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network.
On 24 January 2015, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and the Myanmar Media Lawyers’ Network (MMLN), with the support of International Media Support (IMS), carried out a training on freedom of expression for 80 lawyers in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city. The event introduced participants to international freedom of expression standards, focusing on issues that are of particular importance to Myanmar’s democratic transition, such as regulation of the print and broadcast media and criminal content restrictions.
In addition to an international perspective, the participants discussed specific freedom of expression threats facing Myanmar, including the need for reform of the country’s criminal defamation laws and laws prohibiting insults to religion, and the urgent need to put in place an independent system of broadcast regulation.
“It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the participants in applying their legal training to Myanmar’s freedom of expression challenges,” said CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel. “We are confident that lawyers in this city have a tremendous contribution to make in support of the country’s ongoing democratisation process.”
This was the first event held by the MMLN and CLD outside of Yangon, Myanmar’s capital. Its organisation was made possible through strong collaborative links with prominent lawyers in that city, notably U Thein Than Oo, who played a key facilitating role. Over forty of the attendees applied to join the MMLN and many expressed an interest in participating actively in the Network.
“As the media lawyer’s network continues to develop we are glad to see its reach expanding to Mandalay,” said Esben Harboe, Programme Manager at IMS. “We hope the Network will become a truly national vehicle to support reform of Myanmar’s legal framework around freedom of expression.”
Lebanon: Right to Information or Freedom of Information, 9-10 December 2013
The Holy Spirit University of Kaslik hosted a conference on the right to information to mark its 25th anniversary. Among the attendees was Mr. Chakib Kortbawi, Lebanon’s Minister of Justice. CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas delivered a talk on the right to information as a human right.
Mongolia: National Media Conference, 29 October 2013
This conference aimed at applying UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators to the Mongolian framework, in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the system. Michael Karanicolas was invited as the expert on broadcasting, and delivered a series of presentations on that subject.
Click here to see slides on International Standards for Media Governance
Click here to see slides on Media Transparency, Ethics, and Responsibility
Click here to see slides on the Concentration of Ownership
Click here to see slides on International Standards of Broadcast Regulation
The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), the Centro de Estudios en Libertad de Expresión y Acceso a la Información (CELE) and Fundación Via Libre (FVL) held a workshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to discuss problems with the international framework for copyright and possible solutions. The workshop, which was attended by participants from across Latin America, featured presentations by Michael Karanicolas of CLD and Beatriz Busaniche of FVL, and was moderated by Eduardo Bertoni of CELE. A report on copyright by CLD with draft recommendations served as background material for the workshop.
Morocco: Free Press Unlimited Conference, 4 May 2013
Free Press Unlimited hosted a conference in Rabat, Morocco to mark World Press Freedom Day. The subject of the conference was Morocco’s proposed Press Law reforms, including the idea of creating a National Press Council. CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas discussed the proposed changes, and how to restructure the law in line with international human rights standards.
Kazakhstan: Access to Information: Implementation of the Constitutional Right for Civil Society, 11 February 2013
This conference discussed the right to information. CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas offered a global perspective on the right.
Over the course of 2013, CLD expanded and broadened our Indonesia training programs in collaboration with local partners. Building on the successes of previous civil society trainings, on 6-8 February 2013 CLD and AJI carried out a training of trainers in Jakarta. The event featured participants from several Indonesian provinces, including West Java, South Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara and North Sulawesi, who are now acting as local RTI experts, and have conducted their own follow up RTI trainings of civil society and journalists in West Nusa Tenggara, North Sulawesi, Riau and West Java.
CLD also carried out two trainings of Indonesian public officials, on 29-30 May 2013 in Jakarta and on 11 November 2013 in Banten. The trainings were carried out using a specially developed training manual, available in English and in Bahasa Indonesian.
The Maldives: Symposium on Promoting the Right to Information, 23 October 2012
This symposium aimed at promoting the right to information in the Maldives, and encouraging the Maldivian Majlis to pass a draft RTI law that had been prepared. CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas prepared an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the draft Law, as well as a broader presentation on the benefits of the right to information. The symposium was attended by the then Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament (Majlis).
Myanmar: Workshops on Broadcasting and Print Laws
The Government of Myanmar has made a strong public commitment to undertake a programme of democratisation, including through creating an environment in which freedom of expression is respected. A key part of this will be to create an enabling legal environment for a free media, adopting new democratic laws and repealing or amending the many repressive laws which still remain in force in the country. As first steps, the Government is planning to adopt new press and broadcasting laws.
To provide expertise on relevant international standards as well as better national practice, International Media Support (IMS) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) organised two one-day workshops in Myanmar, one on broadcast regulation in the new capital, Naypyidaw, on 23 April 2012, and another on print media regulation in Yangon on 25 April. The workshops, attended by senior government officials, civil society and media representatives, provided an excellent opportunity to discuss key regulatory issues relating to both media sectors.
The signs from Myanmar about commitment to reform are very positive. At the same time, the challenges of moving from an environment of extensive government control over the media to greater respect for freedom of expression are very significant. Putting in place a good legal framework will be an important early step in this process.
Montenegro: Conference on Proposed RTI Law Reforms, 23 March 2012
As part of a process of reforming the country’s RTI legislation, the government of Montenegro has prepared a draft Law on Free Access to Information, an update to the 2005 Law on Free Access to Information. CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas prepared an analysis of the draft Law pointing out its major shortcomings, which was presented at a conference in Pogdorica.
Click here for slides on Montenegro’s draft Law
On March 8, 2012, CLD and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) conducted a workshop in Jakarta on the right to information. The seminar was conducted at the invitation of the Supreme Court and featured a keynote presentation from one of Australia’s foremost jurists, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG. Among those in attendance were Sultony Mohdally, Supreme Court Judge, Regional Attorney General Suhendra, senior representatives from the Indonesian National Police Headquarters, and several judges and Information Commission representatives, who travelled from around Indonesia to attend the workshop.
As part of an ongoing programme of cooperation between CLD and Indonesian partners, on March 5 CLD and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law hosted a conference on the right to information. The conference featured the launch of two major publications, as well as presentations by the former Hungarian Information Commissioner and by representatives from the Indonesian Central Information Commission, the Indonesian National Police Headquarters, the Indonesian Supreme Court and the Indonesian Presidential Task Force.
Click here for slides on Exceptions to the Right to Information
Click here for slides on standards of RTI implementation for public authorities
Nepal is currently at an important stage in its democratic development, as a nation struggling with constitutional crises and slow progress in terms of promoting freedom of expression. On February 27, the International Media Mission visiting Nepal issued a Joint Statement, addressing key law and policy issues including strengthening the constitution and limiting the scope of classification of information. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, was a member of the Mission, and has been on several previous missions to the country. The Centre for Law and Democracy will be involved in several of the follow-up actions, including efforts to introduce changes to the proposed draft constitutional provisions on freedom of expression, of information and of the media.
Click here to read the Joint Statement (in English) (in Nepali)
As part of an ongoing Indonesian project, CLD and Yayasan SET hosted this one-day conference which discussed government secrecy, particularly with regards to the draft State Secrecy Law currently under consideration in Indonesia. Featured speakers included CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel and CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas.
Click here for slides on Secrecy and Civil Society
Kazakhstan Newspaper Publishers Association Conference, 11-12 Aug 2011
This conference in Astana brought together experts on media law and transparency law from across Central Asia and Eastern Europe. CLD’s Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas delivered the keynote addresses, presenting analyses of Kazakhstan’s draft Law on Information Access and draft Law on Publishing, as well as general comments on international standards of media regulation, free expression, and defamation law.
Click here for slides of our Analysis of the Kazakh draft RTI law
Click here for slides on Global Standards of Media Regulation
Click here for slides on Global Standards of Defamation Law
Click here for slides on Global Standards of Free Expression
OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting, 7-8 July 2011
This meeting in Hofburg, Vienna, was on the subject of Promotion of Pluralism in the New Media. Toby Mendel, CLD’s Executive Director, gave the keynote speech entitled “Pluralism in the New Media: Trends and Threats”. As the title suggests, the speech focused on some of the ways the new media have promoted pluralism, but also on some of the unique threats the online world poses to media pluralism.
Click here to read the speech
RTI Training for Indonesian Civil Society Representatives and Journalists
As part of our ongoing work to promote the right to information in Indonesia, in June 2011 CLD co-hosted a series of workshops in Jakarta, Surabaya and Lampung between June 22 and June 29. These meetings, which were attended by journalists and representatives from several major civil-society initiatives, were designed to educate and inform participants about their rights under Indonesia’s Act on Public Information Transparency, as well as to provide procedural information on how to go about making information requests, and how to deal with obstruction by public agencies. Participants were also able to hear from representatives from the regional Information Commissions, who offered practical guidance on how to maximize their chance of success when seeking information from public authorities.
In preparation for the workshops CLD, in cooperation with the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), prepared a manual on the right to information in Indonesia which can be accessed both in English and in Bahasa Indonesia. As part of this program CLD has also produced a series of brochures on the right to information in Indonesia.
By empowering local organizations with the tools to use Indonesia’s RTI legislation, CLD anticipates that these and other likeminded organizations will be better able to perform their role as agents of government accountability. CLD also hopes to foster a culture of greater transparency by forcing public agencies to confront the reality of their new responsibilities to disclose, as well as by raising general public awareness about the importance of the right to information, as well as how to use it.
Global Trends on the Right to Information, 10-11 December 2010
This conference, hosted by Transparency Morocco in Rabat, was part of a wider local programme to advocate for the adoption of a strong local right to information law. CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel was one of the international speakers at this event.
Click hear to read the address
International Seminar on the Right to Access Public Information: Implementation Challenges for Law No 18.381, 5 November 2010
CAinfo and Unidad de Acceso a la Informatión Pública hosted this conference in Montevideo to discuss the implementation of Uruguay’s right to information legislation and to discuss a draft of a regional study on implementation of the right to information. CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel addressed the conference to discuss developments in the field of access to information.
Click here to read the address
Making the Case for Open Government, 29 September 2010
As part of International Right to Know Week, Canada’s Information Commissioner hosted an event in Ottawa on open government. CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel was a speaker at this event. His paper focused on some of the legal challenges and blocks relating to opening up government datat.
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Expert Meeting on Human Rights and the Internet, Stockholm, 16-17 June 2010
This expert meeting, organised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, brought together leading experts on Internet issues to discuss principles on freedom of expression and the Internet. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, participated in the meeting as an expert.
Media Roundtable, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 9 June 2010
The Roundtable was organised by the Media Policy Institute, in collaboration with Internews Kyrgyzstan, and involved participation from very senior politicians, as well as the OSCE. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave a presentation on the overall framework for media regulation under international law.
Freedom of Information: National Demand, Global Lessons, Manila, 25 May 2010
This Forum, hosted by the Access to Information Network of the Philippines and held in the Philippine Congress, was held with the aim of promoting greater understanding about and incorporation of international standards into the draft national law on access to information. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave a presentation on FOI Recognition, Legislation and Practice: Global Developments.
The Content and Context of “Hate Speech”: Rethinking Regulation and Remedies, 13 May 2010
This meeting, organised jointly by the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University and the Center for Media and Communications Studies at the Central European University. The goal was to revive debate around the issue of hate speech. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave a presentation on Incitement to Genocide.
UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2010 Global Conference, Brisbane, 2-3 May 2010 (World Press Freedom Day 2010 Declaration)
The focus of this year’s UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference, an annual event which was hosted this year by The University Of Queensland, was on the right to information. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave a presentation at the first plenary session on Freedom of Information: current status, challenges and implications for news media.
This Workshop was organised by Indian Institute of Public Administration in collaboration with the World Bank, with a view to fostering a regional discussion about implementation efforts regarding the right to information. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, was a discussant on the opening panel, featuring guests of honour.
The United Nations and Freedom of Expression and Information: Critical Perspectives, Amsterdam, 23 April 2010
This Expert Conference was organised by the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) & Institute for Information Law (IViR) Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam, in collaboration with the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex. The purpose was to explore developments regarding freedom of expression and the right to information in the UN context. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave the keynote presentation on Priority Issues Concerning Freedom of Expression on behalf of the UN Special Rapporteur, and also made comments on the draft UN General Comment on Article 19 (which guarantees freedom of expression).
Freedom of Information Sensitization Workshop, by videoconference, 16 April 2010
This workshop, organised by the World Bank office in Lusaka, involved senior officials and a range of civil society groups. The objective was to raise awareness among participants about international standards on the right to information. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave a presentation and then answered questions on the topic of the workshop.
This Seminar was hosted jointly by Claudio Grossman, Dean, American University Washington College of Law and Frank LaRue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, with the aim of launching the 10th Joint Declaration of the four special international mandates on freedom of expression. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, was a discussant on a panel addressing the key points in the Joint Declaration.
Media Regulation and Public Service Broadcasting in Iraq’s Elections, Istanbul, 20-21 January 2010
This Seminar was organised by UNDP Iraq, as part of its technical assistance in the context of the upcoming elections in Iraq. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave the keynote presentation, Overview of Regulations Relating to Media in Elections.
Roundtable on Transparency in Relation to Open Governance, Bermuda, 15 January 2010
This Roundtable, organised by the Coalition for Community Activism in Bermuda (CCAB), brought together a small group of high-powered officials and legislators, including the Premier, to discuss principles on the right to information, as a contribution to the preparation of local legislation giving effect to this right. Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD, gave a presentation on Transparency: Importance and Key International Perspectives.