Definitions

freedom of expression

International Freedom of Expression Exchange

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), founded in 1992, is a global network of 81 non-governmental organisations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression.

IFEX exchanges information online and mobilises action on issues such as press freedom, Internet censorship, freedom of information legislation, criminal defamation and insult laws, media concentration and attacks on journalists, writers, human rights defenders and Internet users.

A Clearing House in Toronto, Canada, coordinates the programmes and activities of IFEX, and is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression on behalf of the members.

The membership of IFEX encompasses a broad array of organisations that work to defend journalists and media personnel, academics, photographers and camera operators, writers, cyber-dissidents, publishers, cartoonists, community radio stations and libraries. Members include Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and International PEN. (For a more complete list, see Members of IFEX

IFEX provides information to many intergovernmental organizations that monitor freedom of expression, including the UNESCO, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Council of Europe, European Union, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

History

In 1992, several funding and development organisations recognized the need for more cooperation among freedom of expression groups by providing start-up support for IFEX. The Ford Foundation provided funding to hold the first IFEX meeting in Montreal, Canada. The Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation of New York supported the establishment of the IFEX Action Alert Network. UNESCO provided support through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which helped to extend IFEX's links with the developing world and promote IFEX through its own network.

Action Alert Network

One of the central components of IFEX is the Action Alert Network (AAN). Member organizations report freedom of expression abuses in their geographic region or area of expertise to the Clearing House which, in turn, circulates this information to other members and interested organisations all over the world. This efficient system enables members to stay abreast of their counterparts' activities, share information and research, and focus their energies where it is most needed.

Importantly, the AAN also allows for a rapid, world-wide and coordinated response to press freedom and freedom of expression violations. Action Alerts help focus international attention on those responsible for human rights violations. This can make a significant difference, as those who violate human rights often rely on the cover of darkness.

IFEX Communiqué

IFEX also publishes the IFEX Communiqué (www.ifex.org), a weekly newsletter that reports on IFEX members' activities and on freedom of expression developments around the world. Distributed to thousands of subscribers in more than 150 countries, the IFEX Communiqué highlights free expression hotspots and issues including anti-terrorism laws, journalists' safety, women in the media, Internet censorship, media concentration and access to information. The newsletter is published in English, French, Spanish, Russian (http://www.ifex.cjes.ru/comm) and Arabic (http://anhri.net/ifex).

Outreach and Development Programme

Another key area of the Clearing House's work is the Outreach and Development Programme. Based on a recognition of current North-South disparities, this programme is designed to support and strengthen fledgling freedom of expression organisations in the developing world, Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union.

The risks and obstacles faced by people who attempt to start up free expression groups in countries plagued by human rights abuses or censorship can be overwhelming, and IFEX offers vital transfusions of information, financial and technical resources, expertise, and international support and recognition.

IFEX Website

IFEX's trilingual (English, French, Spanish) website (www.ifex.org) contains the largest searchable online archive of information on free expression violations, dating back to 1995. The site is also available in Russian and Arabic

Joint Actions and Campaigns

IFEX brings members together to act jointly or campaign on freedom of expression issues, harnessing the collective power and resources of more than 80 organisations around the world. Through IFEX, members launch international joint actions to help free jailed individuals or challenge repressive laws.

IFEX also facilitates campaigns to focus attention on freedom of expression violations in specific countries or regions (http://campaigns.ifex.org).

Tunisia Monitoring Group

The IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group, comprising 16 IFEX member organisations, raises international awareness of censorship and other human rights violations in Tunisia.

Launched in late 2004, this campaign aimed to pressure the Tunisian government to improve its human rights record in the run-up to, and following, the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in Tunis in November 2005.

The group has produced three reports which document widespread violations against independent journalists, human rights defenders and Internet users who criticise the government. The reports are based on fact-finding missions to Tunisia in 2005 and 2006.

Members of IFEX

See also

Notes and references

External links

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