Human Rights Defender 23-3 focuses on the media and human rights

Issues of media freedom and protection have long been a concern of the human rights community.  The Australian journalist Peter Greste is currently imprisoned in Egypt for simply doing his job and the Committee to Protect Journalists records that 1080 journalists have been killed in the course of their work since 1992.  The media regularly face violence and are increasingly targeted in the conflicts which they cover.

Journalists have played a significant role as human rights witnesses and also in the formation of public opinion and engagement regarding human rights.  This role is vital but has increasingly been called into question, both by changes occurring in the media landscape and economy, but also with increasing concern about media manipulation, monopoly and even incitement, one example being the role of radio in the Rwandan genocide.  Issues regarding media invasion of privacy have also achieved greater attention and significance within human rights jurisprudence.

This issue of the Human Rights Defender focuses on the theme of Media and Human Rights. It does so by looking at the relationship from two angles, asking: how does the media shape and affect human rights activity; and how can human rights law both protect and constrain the media?  In the era of digital media and the internet, human rights activism and practice is adapting to the new media avenues for advocacy, publicity and co-ordination.  This issue begins with the debate surrounding social media and human rights which has been sparked most notably by the viral social media experiment Kony 2012.

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