Defamation and respect for values among topics at training for legal media professionals

14 May 2007

A two-day interactive IPDC/OSCE/Adil-Soz training seminar on legal rights of the media for 19 journalists and media lawyers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took place in Almaty on 10-11 April 2007.

The training was implemented by the Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Expression "Adil Soz" within the framework of UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) project on the "Legal rights of the media in Central Asia", and co-sponsored by the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE.

The training covered topics such as journalists' access to information, criminal libel and civil defamation. Respect for national, cultural and religious values was also widely discussed in relation to freedom of expression.

In the opinion of Jannat Zaurova, a lawyer from the newspaper "Info-Ces", Astana, "insult charges should not be heard in court unless an expert assessment regarding the language in question is made beforehand, in compliance with all relevant norms. I would be interested to see such expert assessment be required (as a protection mechanism for journalists) given that there is no statute of limitations for defamation charges (including insult charges)."

"The citation of international agreements in case documents will assist in defending journalists and media lawyers. We need additional training, especially in the context of presumption of innocence and freedom of expression" said Gulnara Ishanhanova, Deputy Chairman of National Association of Advocates of Uzbekistan.

"Discussing the topic of respect for national symbols, religious views and cultural values at the training helped us to assess controversial materials and to decide whether to publish them in our newspaper," reported Elena Zholobova, a Lawyer from the newspaper "For You", Bishkek.

Workshop trainers included: Mr. Boris Panteleev, Legal Officer at the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Moscow, Ms. Ganna Krasilnikova, a lawyer from the International Fund for the Protection of freedom of speech "Adil Soz" and Professor Ms. Rakhilya Karymsakova, specialist from the Independent Defamation Center, both from Almaty.

In their comments about the seminar, participants noted the relevance of the subject matter covered, the professionalism of the and the trainers and practicality of the seminar topics.

Participants enthusiastically commented that they intend to use the information gained from the seminar in their practice.

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