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Our Freedoms – Expression: Speech and Information. Freedom of Information & Speech.

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freedom of information speech
Freedom of Information & Speech

Freedom of speech is a right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It allows everyone, everywhere, to speak freely without censorship or limitation. Freedom of expression includes freedom of speech and freedom of information, meaning people are free to receive and send information. In practice, freedom of expression is limited, as what you say or write may offend or harm a person (‘hate’ messages) and could lead to social disapproval or even legal action. People are still tortured and killed for their opinions, despite the existence of human rights agreements, as occurred during the leadership of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - The Internett

The internet has opened new possibilities for exercising freedom of information, especially via blogs and social network sites. According to Reporters without Borders, freedom of information is restricted by government censorship of the internet in countries such as Cuba, Myanmar and Vietnam. Barring total control of internet-connected computers, as occurs in North Korea, total censorship of the internet is near impossible. Saudi Arabia blocks pornographic sites; China blocks content relating to Tibetan independence; Iran blocks women\'s rights sites; and Uzbekistan prevents access to material critical of the government\'s human rights violations.

The black holes in the map below represent 15 countries that limit or prohibit their citizens’ access to the internet as a way of censoring the free flow of information. Internet censorship is a strong indicator of press censorship.

Journalists have been thrown in prison for years for a single offending word or photograph. During the Russian and Chechnyan war, 20 journalists were killed. Reporters without Borders and UNESCO fight for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. People who defend human rights injustices such as journalists are protected by the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

freedom of information speech1
Freedom of Information & Speech

FREEDOM OF SPEECHFreedom of speech is a right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It allows everyone, everywhere, to speak freely without censorship or limitation. Freedom of expression includes freedom of speech and freedom of information, meaning people are free to receive and send information. In practice, freedom of expression is limited, as what you say or write may offend or harm a person (‘hate’ messages) and could lead to social disapproval or even legal action. People are still tortured and killed for their opinions, despite the existence of human rights agreements, as occurred during the leadership of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

Facts and figures — Amnesty International Report 2008

Prisoner of conscience refers to those who have been imprisoned and/or persecuted for non-violent expression of their beliefs (e.g. political, religious, environment)

the internet s black holes1
The Internet’s Black Holes

ACTIVITY: Examine the map on the previous page and discuss with your class.

List three countries with no internet censorship. Explain the reasons for censorship in Australia and three other countries.

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ACTIVITIESChoose from the following to complete during this lesson:

OPTION ONE - In a small group develop a role play in which you show one type of freedom and how it can/has been restricted.

OPTION TWO – Research and list the names of the 15 countries in the world who currently do not have access to the internet.

OPTION THREE - Develop a set of guidelines that could be used for free speech in your community. Put together a brochure that outlines these guidelines.

OPTION FOUR – Put together a one minute advertisement, either in the form of role play, or digitally, which informs people of their rights to freedom of information.

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