Freedom of Expression

According to article 19 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold and express an opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Freedom of opinion and expression is essential in building a peaceful society in which all its segments are able to speak their minds and engage with each other’s ideas. However, in practice, and despite the hope for greater freedoms brought about by the Arab uprisings to open access to public spaces, the right to freedom of opinion and expression is still continuously violated by governmental censorship, restrictive legislations or policies limiting the media and silencing critical voices. Journalists, human rights defenders, minorities or voices otherwise critical of governments are recurrently victims of governmental crackdowns through judicial harassment, closure of newspapers or online blogs, arbitrary arrests and detention as punishment for peacefully expressing their views.

Alkarama therefore continues to document, including through submissions to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression (SR FRDX), cases of arbitrary arrests and detention for mere acts of free speech in the region.