EU Censorship News

 2010: Oct-Dec



30th December   

Insular Thinking...

Gibraltar shows an interest in Ed Vaizey's one-size-fits-all internet blocking nonsense
Link Here

Gibraltar flag The ISP internet blocking discussion in Britain is being closely followed by government ministers in Gibraltar, who say that at first glance, the initiative seems good.

If it were technically possible, it's a very good idea, said Injustice Minister Daniel Feetham: But we know from other areas that we've looked at such initiatives that it is technically very difficult.

Fabian Vinet, the minister with responsibility for communications issues, offered a similar view: My understanding is that the UK government will be talking to internet service providers about setting up an age verification scheme to govern access to pornographic sites. The Gibraltar Government will follow the discussions in the UK before reaching a conclusion, as I'm advised that it could be technically not possible to completely block this material.

Part of the technical problem is that porn sites can - and do - easily change their core internet address. As soon as one site is blocked, it pops up somewhere else. Separately, blocking porn sites by filtering content could lead to innocuous websites getting caught in the net. In yet another complexity, there is nothing to stop a knowledgeable internet user from circumventing any controls by re-routing remotely via another jurisdiction with laxer controls.

Tim Bristow, chief executive at Gibtelecom, the main broadband provider here, said installing a blanket ban on all pornography sites would prove very difficult. He also said that such a move could raise questions about personal freedoms and would have to be handled very carefully.

 

25th December   

Update: Dead Space in Bavaria...

German state not keen on the game Dead Space 2
Link Here  full story: Dead Space 2...Dead Space 2 questioned in Germany

Electronic Arts Dead Space PS3 According to a roughly translated report in PCGames.de, Bavaria's Ministry of Social Affairs said that the PSP version of EA's Dead Space 2 needs to be re-examined before it can be approved for release in the region.

Producers EA say that this is the 6th time that the game has been examined by the German censors at USK.

The objection seems to be with the multiplayer mode, which lets human players kill other human players.

EA has filed an appeal to the decision.

Perhaps a few clues from the UK's BBFC who comment on the game in an article from bbfc.co.uk :

BBFC logo Dead Space 2 is a science fiction game played from the third-person perspective. It once again features Isaac Clarke, who must fight his Necromorph enemies on the moon of Titan. The game was classified 18 for strong bloody violence and gory images.

At 15 the BBFC's Guidelines state that Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable . Dead Space 2 features frequent strong bloody violence and gory images, during gameplay and the cut scenes . As with the first game the alien enemies must have their limbs blown off in order to kill them, with the player's character using weapons such as a plasma cutter and a spinning circular saw. As well as the removal of limbs, heads are seen being decapitated and blood sprays copiously from the bodies of victims as well as being visible on walls and floors throughout the various levels. While it's not possible to shoot the unarmed civilians occasionally seen during the levels, the bodies of people once dead can be damaged in a similar manner to that of the aliens, although progress does not depend on this. Some of the game's gorier sequences include the ability to stamp on the bodies of enemies as they lie wounded; the clear sight of a man drawing a knife across his throat with blood spraying from the wound as he slumps to the floor; a sequence in which a screaming man is pulled apart by an alien creature; sight of a character being stabbed in the eye by a frenzied attacker; and various animation sequences to denote the death of the player's character, such as his limbs being sliced off or his body crushed by elements of the environment. These moments went beyond the limits permissible at the 15 category.

Dead Space 2 also contains strong language.

 

22nd December   

Update: In the Name of the Children...

France gives nod to government internet blocking without judicial review
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

France flag The French General Assembly has adopted a bill on December 15 to allow the Government to filter the internet without court intervention.

Article 4 of the so-called LOPPSI 2 law on guidelines and programming for the performance of internal security), referred to the blocking of child pornography sites.

But some MPs among the assembly attacked Article 4, which in effect allowed the government to filter the Internet using a blacklist issued by the Ministry of Interior, without the intervention of the judiciary. Critics of the measure argued it might also allow the ISP-level blocking of websites considered by the authorities as undesirable, without judiciary control.

After passing through the French National Assembly, the text will go back to the Senate at the beginning of 2011.

Update: Passed

29th March 2011. Based on article from laquadrature.net

The French Constitutional Council has released its decision1 regarding the LOPPSI bill. Judges held that article 4 of the bill, which allows the executive branch to censor the Net under the pretext of fighting child pornography, is not contrary to the Constitution. In doing so, the constitutional court has failed to protect fundamental freedoms on the Internet, and in particular freedom of expression. Hopes lie now in European institutions, which are the only ones with the power to prohibit or at least supervise administrative website blocking and its inherent risks of abuse.

The LOPSSI law compiled many repressive measures on vastly unrelated subjects. The Constitutional Council found itself caught by this strategy. While it did strike down some of the most shocking provisions, it left untouched those that seemed less harmful or were proposed in the name of noble goals, in spite of having a highly detrimental impact on civil liberties, such as the ones related to the Internet.

 

22nd December   

The Old Ways...

Hungary establishes an alarming new media censor
Link Here  full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

nmhh logo Hungary's parliament has passed  a law creating an alarming new censor with powers to monitor and impose fines on the media.

The National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) will keep watch on private and public media outlets.

Unbalanced coverage or breaches of the rules on coverage of sex, violence or alcohol are now expected to prompt the imposition of sanctions by the new authority. The NMHH will be able to impose fines of up to 200m forints (£615,000; $955,000) on TV and radio stations, MTI reported. Newspapers could face fines of up to 25m forints and news websites 10m forints.

Two independent watchdogs - the OSCE and US-based Freedom House - have voiced concern, saying the law tightens government control over the media. Hundreds of students have demonstrated against the law in Budapest.

Freedom House also warned that it would be a major setback for press freedom in Hungary , saying that the definition of violations is very broad .

Update: President petitioned not to sign the new law

23rd December 2010. Based on article from  rferl.org

Hungary's main opposition has urged the president not to sign a new media law, citing constitutional concerns and widespread international criticism.

The Hungarian Socialist Party asked President Pal Schmitt in a letter to instead defer the law to the Constitutional Court.

Hungary's parliament approved the contentious new law on December 21, which will greatly expand the state's power to monitor and penalize private media, drawing protests from opposition parties and civil society.

Publications deemed to be unbalanced or offensive in their coverage may face large fines.

 

18th December   

Still on the Books...

Irish book censor hasn't banned a book in 12 years
Link Here

ireland dept of justice logo After 80 years of censorship from a board once internationally notorious for its prurience, the last remaining book to be banned in Ireland on the grounds of obscenity will have its prohibition lifted this year.

On May 9th, 1930, a year after the passing of the initial Censorship of Publications Act, Huxley's 1928 novel became the act's first casualty. Banned on the grounds that it was indecent and obscene , it earned the dubious historical honour of being recorded as the first entry in the first volume of the Register of Prohibited Publications.

The Base Guide to London remains the final entry in the register's latest volume.

In the 12 years since this last prohibition, the Censorship of Publications Board has not banned a single title. Under the terms of the 1967 Censorship of Publications Act, books deemed indecent or obscene have their prohibitions revoked after 12 years.

With The Base Guide removed from the banned list along with 14 other titles likewise prohibited in 1998, the board's long war against indecent and obscene books will, effectively, be over. For the first time since formal censorship began, not a single title banned on these grounds will remain on the register.

According to Odran Flynn, a member of the five-person board since 2001, the dramatic decline in prohibitions owes less to increased broad-mindedness on the part of the board and more to a disinclination on the part of the public to complain: In my time on the board there has been only one book submitted [ Guantanamo Jihad! by Niall de Souza], but it wasn't banned. My own view is it reflects a change of society. The decline of the church's influence over the last 20 years has had a major impact.

With almost no material being submitted for review, board meetings have become infrequent. In the early 2000s there would have been meetings every two months, because at that stage there was a campaign by a group of people who continuously wrote in complaining about magazines. But in the last four to five years we probably haven't met more than three times. So basically there's been no activity at all.

While Ordan Flynn says it would surprise him greatly if there were any books banned in the future , the register will not, come December 31st, be entirely cleared of its backlog of prohibitions. There are, for instance, 279 periodicals still listed. Most date back over 50 years. Periodicals remain banned until their prohibition is successfully appealed, so the majority of these titles are likely to remain on the register indefinitely.

As far as books are concerned, eight lonely titles stand exempt from the 12-year amnesty. This group which includes decades-old publications by such venerable figures as the birth-control pioneer Dorothy Thurtle. They will remain prohibited under current legislation that prohibits publications deemed to advocate or promote the procurement of abortion.

 

18th December   

The Victim Mafia...

Italian Euro MP tries to get the video game Mafia II banned
Link Here

Take 2 Mafia II DVD Euro MP Sonia Alfano lost her father to the mob in 1993. She is also the president of Italy's association for the families of Mafia victims.

She has now come out against the video game Mafia II , claiming that it trivializes the violence and murder committed by organized crime.

She is fighting to get the game banned in Europe. Last week she asked the European Commission to consider banning the game.

Alfano recently said in an interview:

It really, really hurts. We can't allow this to happen, our wounds are still too fresh. These games transform the Mafia, a reality of death and destruction, into a thrilling and hands-on virtual pastime. Even if momentarily, players identify with brutal killers and for us who have experienced violence firsthand, it's appalling.

Take Two defends the game and compares it to other entertainment based on organized time. Alan Lewis, Take-Two's vice president for corporate communications and public affairs said:

Mafia II tells a compelling story about organized crime in America -- a subject that for decades has been featured in award-winning movies, television shows and novels such as The Godfather and The Sopranos .  We fully and completely stand behind our creative teams and products, including Mafia II.

 

2nd December   

Update: Age Old Concerns...

New German law requires websites rate themselves with an age rating
Link Here  full story: Age Verification in Germany...Requiring age verification for adult websites

FSK 18 cert In Germany, a few blogs and websites have already decided to throw in the towel before a new law comes into effect from January 1, 2011.

The so-called Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (JMStV) will task anyone operating a .de domain with adding an age certificate to his or her website.

Sounds like a dumb idea, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it is set to become reality due to politicians ratifying the law in the parliaments of Germany's 16 federal states.

Age verification processes are already in place for German porn sites, which require users to have their age and identity checked to make sure they're not simply using dad's credit card. Verification using Deutsche Post's Postident identity check is the preferred method.

As a consequence, popular German blog VZlog.de has said it will go offline on New Year's Eve. VZlog.de states it doesn't have the resources to check all of its content and comments, nor does it have the technical resources to slap an 18 certificate on it, make certain its readers are 18 and above using Postident, or simply put the site online at midnight and take it offline again in the early hours.

It seems the only people set to profit are lawyers, who are going to have a field day next year. Lawyers are expected to start sending out cease and desist letters to websites, telling them they're breaking the law and have to pay a couple of thousand euros.

 

1st December   

Terror Cell...The Comedy...

Rather unsurprising self censorship on Danish TV
Link Here

terror cell video Danish broadcaster SBS owns the right to a satiric show about a cell of bumbling European Muslim terrorists created by Omar Marzouk, but the show has been on the shelf for the past two years.

Henrik Bo Nielsen of the Danish Film Institute has seen an episode from the show and doesn't understand what's the problem with broadcasting it. It's a very funny satire series and he's seen nothing which could cause concern. The Institute granted millions to support the project.

SBS first changed the name of the series from The Terror Cell to The Cell . Then they moved the planned broadcast from Kanal 5 to the less viewed 6'eren. Now they've postponed broadcasting it at all.

SBS spokesperson Jesper Jürgensen says that the series could annoy some viewers. The current terror threat against Denmark also played a role in the decision to drop the series.

Mogens Jensen (Social Democrats), says that it looks like a type of self-censorship, and that's obviously regrettable.

Creator Omar Marzouk told BT that he's furious that SBS don't dare show the series, which makes fun of extremists.

SBS invested 4.5 million Danish Kroner in the show, and got another 4.5 million in state subsidies from the Danish Film Institute. They need to broadcast the year after they get the money, or else they need to repay it.

 

26th November   

Ban Splattered All Over German Gamers...

Germany bans video game Splatterhouse
Link Here

Namco SplatterHouse PS3 Game Captain is reporting that the gore-soaked Splatterhouse has been banned by the German classification board and, thus, will not be published in Germany.

Distributors Namco Bandai aren't stupid or anything. I am certain that nobody was under any illusions as to whether or not this particular game would see release in Germany. Which means that there is a benefit to them submitting a game like this. Such as creating yet one more example for the public to cite when making an argument for the replacement of the USK board with PEGI. And, when the games get denied, people like me write stories about them providing further free publicity on a worldwide scale.

BBFC 18 Splattered all over the cover

See article from bbfc.co.uk

For comparison the UK's BBFC passed the game 18 uncut commenting:

BBFC logo Splatterhouse is a 3rd person beat 'em up for both the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox 360 platforms. The player assumes the role of Rick Taylor, a parapsychology student who, together with his girlfriend Jen, takes refuge from a storm in West Mansion. Whilst in the building Rick and Jen are confronted by the evil Dr Henry West himself. The latter is accompanied by two demonic creatures that drag Jen away and attack and fatally injure Rick. Rick is left for dead but is resurrected when he puts on a strange mask that transforms him into a Hulk-like creature. Thereafter, Rick searches the labyrinthine passageways and tunnels beneath West Mansion in search of Dr West and Jen. The game, which includes three earlier incarnations (arcade platform games dating from 1988, 1992 and 1993), was classified 18 for strong bloody violence and strong language.

The BBFC's Guidelines at 15 state Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong sadistic or sexualised violence is also unlikely to be acceptable . This game includes strong bloody violence throughout as Rick, the player-controlled character, encounters and slaughters hordes of demonic opponents and larger boss monsters using either empty hand techniques or weapons, some of which are bladed. Striking opponents with fists or weapons produces copious blood spurts, large pools of blood and big splashes of blood on the screen. Rick comes across a variety of weapons (clubs, baseball bats, axes, chainsaws etc.) as he progresses through the levels, although sometimes he merely rips off an opponent's arm and uses the limb as a blunt weapon. The game therefore includes frequent decapitations, dismemberments and other forms of mutilation. Different button combinations produce different attack techniques and from time to time the player is able to execute more spectacular splatter kills - the player is prompted to press a particular sequence of buttons, which if done correctly and in a timely fashion, enables him or her to, for example, manually crush an opponent's head, rip jaws apart, gouge out eyes, place a knee in the small of the opponent's back and either tear the arms off or rip the torso in two. Other moves include reaching into an opponent's mouth and pulling out the lungs and, in one case, ripping away the anus. All such manoeuvres are accompanied by plentiful amounts of blood and take place against a thumping heavy metal soundtrack. Although the violence clearly takes place in a fantasy setting and, with one exception, all the enemies are non-human, the very clear focus on the infliction of bloody injury was considered best placed at 18 in this case. The strongest and most realistic violence is to be found in the cut scenes. In the initial attack on Rick a reptilian creature impales him on its claw. Blood flows from Rick's chest as he is hurled through the air and when he hits the ground more blood oozes from his mouth. Thereafter, a very large pool of blood then begins to form. In another scene, which occurs towards the end of the work, Dr West is about to sacrifice Jen with a ceremonial dagger. Before he can do so, however, the arm holding the dagger is ripped off at the shoulder and arterial blood then begins to spurt from the stump.

SPLATTERHOUSE contains strong language throughout and occasional animation images of female breast nudity, in each case accompanied by some mild verbal sexual innuendo, all of which would have been acceptable at 15 .

Australia mature about splatter

26th November 2010. Based on article from  smh.com.au

rt australia ma15 With Australia's still missing R18+ rating for games in the news again this week, Namco's remake of Splatterhouse has been released at an interesting time.

Viewing the preview footage for the revamped game, I can remember thinking that such a shamelessly gruesome game would be lucky to dodge the Classification Board's banhammer. I think everybody who had been following the game's development was surprised when it was awarded an MA15+ rating (for strong horror violence, blood and gore).

 

23rd November   

Update: A War Against German Gamers...

Uncensored imports set to be banned
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Black Ops DVD Uncensored Austrian versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops are selling well in Germany, but are set to be pulled from shelves.

Imported copies are expected to be banned in Germany later this week.

According to a report by the German website Schnittberichte, the Federal Department of Media Harmful to Young Persons received an urgent action to ban all international versions of the game last week.

Indie retailers are apparently enjoying strong sales of imported copies of the shooter, while the uncut European version is proving more popular on Amazon Germany than the domestic edition.

The heavily-censored German version of the game removes rag-doll effects, blood spatter, a torture scene and Swastika images.

 

23rd November   

Humour Derailed...

Austrian state TV under fire for holocaust joke
Link Here

stermann grissemann logo Bosses of Austria's national broadcaster ORF have come under pressure over a bad taste Holocaust joke in a popular late night show.

ORF officials censored the latest episode of Willkommen Österreich . The weekly show is co-hosted by Dirk Stermann and Christoph Grissemann.

In the uncut version of the episode, Stermann said: American lawyers are suing ÖBB (Austrian Railways). They accuse the company of having been involved in the deportation of Jews.

Dear lawyers in the USA, I doubt that. Had Jews taken ÖBB trains, they wouldn't have arrived in Auschwitz by today, the German added.

The joke was met with roaring laughter by the studio audience before Stermann's Austrian co-host said: You have to add: this isn't an issue to make fun of.

Ariel Muzicant, head of the Jewish Community in Vienna, said today: I think this joke really is distasteful. I wonder how these gentlemen would feel had their parents and grandparents been on those trains.

Michael Wimmer, a spokesman for ÖBB, said he was speechless . Wimmer said it should be common sense not to make fun about the issue. He added that the claim American advocates were pressing charges against ÖBB were wrong.

Stermann's disputed joke refers to group action by Holocaust survivors against the Republic of Hungary which could also hit Rail Cargo Hungaria. The company previously named MAV Cargo was acquired by ÖBB two years ago. The claimants accuse the Republic of Hungary and the country's Federal Railways of having been involved in confiscating Jewish possessions and transporting members of the Jewish community living in the country into the Nazi's concentration camps. Around six million people were killed in the regime's death and forced labour camps.

 

18th November   

Shot Down in Bad Taste...

Catalan political party offend with flash game
Link Here

rescate alicia A game appearing on the website of a Spanish political party, in which players shot down illegal immigrants, was quickly yanked from the Internet after objections to its content.

The game, entitled Rescate (Rescue) appeared on the website of the Catalan branch of the conservative Partido Popular (or People's Party). Further describing the game, the Telegraph indicated that the goal was to shoot down targets including 'illegal immigrants' parachuting from a plane and donkeys intended to represent Catalan separatists.

Once completed, the game urged players to vote for the PP in the November 28 elections.

Rival political party ICV-EUiA called the game an apology for violence and trivialisation of human life, and an example of xenophobia.

 

14th November   

Update: Judges on Trial...

Wilders trial set to resume
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders The trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders for inciting hatred will resume shortly in Amsterdam with new judges, judicial authorities have said.

Wilders is on trial charged with inciting hatred and discriminating against Muslims. The trial was suspended when the defendant's lawyer raised objections against the judges. The impartiality of one of the judges was questioned when it turned out he had had a private conversation about the case with a defence witness prior to the trial.

 

13th November   

Update: Dangerous Books...

Kurt Westergaard publishes his autobiography
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

manden-bag-stregen The autobiography of the Danish cartoonist who sparked Muslim outrage by depicting Mohammed with a bomb for a turban was quickly whisked off shelves by book buyers when it went on sale Friday.

In Denmark's western town of Aarhus, the autobiography of Kurt Westergaard had already sold out and book stores there were desperate for more copies, John Lykkegaard, the author and publisher of the book, said Friday evening.

Six thousand copies had been printed for the Friday release. Lykkegaard said 10,000 more copies would probably need to be printed early next week.

The book entitled Manden Bag Stregen (The Man Behind the Line) details the life of 75-year-old Westergaard, and also features a republished version of his controversial drawing that has earned him numerous death threats and assassination attempts.

The cover is adorned with the last caricature Westergaard published in Jyllands-Posten before retiring in June. That drawing features Westergaard riding a scraggy horse and carrying an oversized fountain pen and notebook, being pursued by a donkey carrying a weight with the words freedom of expression scrolled across it, topped with a live bomb and menacing clouds with the crescent moon of Islam lurking above.

 

13th November   

Offsite: Free Speech Forgotten...

Hasty legislation will make a mess of Europe's right to be forgotten
Link Here

EU flag The European Commission proposal to include a right to be forgotten in data protection laws risks causing legal, technical and ethical mayhem if it is not thought through more thoroughly.

A Commission FAQ about the process said that individuals should have more control over their own data. They need to know what their rights are if they want to access, rectify or delete their data, it said.

For example, there should be a 'right to be forgotten,' which means that individuals should have the right to have their data fully removed when it is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was collected, said the FAQ. People who want to delete profiles on social networking sites should be able to rely on the service provider to remove personal data, such as photos, completely.

There are two kinds of rights at stake here. One is the right of other individuals to have material continue to exist. If you want something deleted – a picture, an account of an event – that includes other people in any way, you are dealing with conflicting rights. Whose should win out?

The other kind of right is that of society to know what has happened. There was a protest march this week and thousands of students participated. This is important, it is part of the fabric of the nation's life. If all of those people were able to delete themselves from records of that event then how can we know in the future that it happened?

Society must have a right to record history, and history is made up of material depicting or describing individuals. Its distortion is nothing new: as Winston Churchill observed, history is written by the victors. But the information age should make it harder to lose objective records. Politicians should be careful if they pass laws that might undermine that.

...Read the full article

 

9th November   

Slaughter Porn...

Peta offended by Czech slaughter calendar
Link Here

diana kobzanova slaughter calendar Animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has blasted a bizarre Czech calendar featuring a topless model decapitating a pig.

A Peta spokesperson branded the controversial calendar slaughter porn , according to www.metro.co.uk.

Only a sociopath could find sexual excitement from the depiction of horrific and violent acts against frightened living beings, the spokesperson said: Such imagery is likely to get the public to consider that real pigs used for meat are sensitive beings who suffer violent, bloody deaths and who do not want to die.

Another image features a model standing over what appears to be a dead pig in a trough, while chickens drink from pools of blood on the ground.

The model featured in one of the photos is a former Miss Czech Republic by the name of Diana Kobzanova.

Following Peta's condemnation, Kobzanova has defended the calendar, revealing that the animals pictured in the photographs were in fact models built for the occasion.

All the proceeds from the calendar will go to the Helpers Association, which trains guide dogs for the blind and the physically handicapped, she said.

 

8th November   

Update: Concapa Crap...

Nutters get A Serbian Film banned in Spain
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

a serbian film poster A Serbian film has been banned from public screenings in Spain following a provisional injunction by a court in San Sebastian.

The injunction was served to San Sebastian's Fantasy and Terror Film Week, four hours before A Serbian film was due to screen at the festival, forcing Film Week director Jose Luis Rebordinos to pull the film from the program.

Two more festivals in Spain -- in Molins de Rei and Malaga -- have followed suit.

The film played at October's Sitges Fantasy Fest, stirring a wide range of reactions. One was a request by Spain's Catholic Confederation of Family and Student Parents (Concapa) for the film to be yanked from San Sebastian's Terror Week -- a petition that appears to have prompted the temporary injunction. Concapa argued the film offended human dignity and the underage.

Currently the ban is temporary, the San Sebastian court still has to rule on a definitive prohibition.

 

8th November   

Update: Failed, Must do Better...

EU annual report criticises Turkey over lack of media freedom
Link Here  full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

EU flag The European Union on Tuesday will criticize Turkey sharply over the rising number of prosecutions against journalists in an annual progress report on the country's bid to join the bloc, said a person familiar with the draft.

The attack on Turkey's press-freedom record is likely to further embarrass the country's Islamic-leaning government, which this week takes over the six-month rotating chair of the Council of Europe, the Continent's top human-rights body. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has hailed that development as testament to the level of democracy in Turkey.

But according to Turkish and international press watchdogs, media freedoms—a key right underpinning democratic systems—are getting significantly worse in Turkey. Reporters without Borders this year ranked Turkey 138th in terms of media freedom, out of 178 countries—down from 98th out of 167 in 2005.

The Justice Ministry, in written answers to questions, said, Turkey is a democratic state, governed by the rule of law, in which press freedoms are guaranteed by the constitution. But the ministry acknowledged that the rise in cases was a problem. At this moment, our ministry is preparing a draft that foresees the amending of some articles concerning the press in the Turkish Penal Code, the Justice Ministry wrote, singling out the articles on secrecy of investigations, personal privacy and the attempt to affect a fair trial.

The ministry also noted that in 2008 it amended the penal code's Article 301, which penalized anyone who publicly denigrated Turkishness, the military, courts or government. Ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 in 2006, and was assassinated soon afterward. Since 2008, prosecutors need permission from the Justice Ministry to open a case under Article 301, and new prosecutions have come to a near halt as a result.

 

1st November   

A Bad Influence for Denmark...

Danish party leader looks to get al-Jazeera banned
Link Here

Al Jazeera logo The leader of Denmark's Danish People's Party, on which the government relies for support, said in a newspaper interview published that pan-Arab television channels Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya should be stopped from broadcasting to the country.

Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of parliament's third-biggest party, accused the channels of sowing hatred against Western society in immigrant communities. The centre-right governing coalition said it did not support her views about the stations.

Kjaersgaard said she would look into reporting the TV stations to Danish regulatory authorities with the aim of getting their broadcasts blocked.

My aim is merely to promote integration here which in certain residential areas has gone completely wrong, and that is to a large extent due to the inhabitants getting their news from these two TV stations only, she said in an interview with the daily Berlingske Tidende. Their broadcasts are very full of hatred... They contribute to inculcating hatred against Western society.

 

30th October   

Justified Contempt of a Public Servant...

Frenchman locked up for making joke at French politician's gaff
Link Here

rachida datiA Frenchman was locked up for two days and is facing criminal charges for sending a joke email to Rachida Dati, the former Injustice Minister, asking for an inflation .

The unnamed 40-year-old contacted the MEP at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week following her appearance on a national radio station when she confused the words fellatio and inflation – which sound similar in French.

At the time Dati managed to laugh off the mix-up, saying she had spoken too quickly.

After Dati complained about the joke email, the home of sender from Bourg de Péage region of south east France, was raided by Lyon's Judicial Police.

Ivan Flaud, the man's lawyer, said: My client's computer was seized and he was remanded in custody for 48 hours.

After being kept in a cell and then placed on bail he was ordered to appear in court on December 3 charged with displaying contempt towards a public servant, an offence which is punishable with a prison sentence of up to a month and a €10,000 (£8,700) fine.

My client solely addressed the email to Miss Dati, and did not distribute it to anyone else, said Flaud, saying there was nothing offensive about it as it solely contained an innocent euphemism.

The email was addressed to Miss Dati as a person and not as a public servant, he said. He said that politicians and others in public life frequently receive humorous emails, and even obscene ones are considered part and parcel of life in the public eye.

Dati was an authoritarian Injustice Minister with close links with President Sarkozy, although he eventually sacked her inability to do the job, accusing her of being too interested in becoming a glamorous celebrity.

 

30th October   

Kidnapped...

Printers censor Galician satirical magazine
Link Here

retrancaA Galician satirical magazine has been kidnapped by its printers because they disagree with it making fun of the Pope and the Church.

The special issue of Retranca was meant to coincide with the Pope's visit to Santiago de Compostela, but the printers took offence and refused to release it for distribution, citing their moral disagreement with its contents.

Roughly translated from Galician, the headline reads The Pope's visit will cost 3 million Euros . The Pope is saying, No miracles of loaves, or fishes, or hosts. I make it rain cash on me.

The magazine's director, Kiko da Silva, said: The decision is absurd and has no rhyme or reason. The owner of the press told us not they wouldn't hand over the copies because they morally disagree with the contents and they will do everything possible to prevent it seeing the light of day. Literally, they said they would not give publicity to such blasphemy.

 

28th October   

Updated: Standing by his Words...

Geert Wilders and Dutch free speech on trial
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert WildersThe flamboyant Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, who holds the balance of power in the Netherlands, told judges that he had no regrets over the comments.

Wilders is being prosecuted for describing the Koran as fascist and for comparing it to Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, a text that is banned in the Netherlands.

In March 2008, he released a film called Fitna , Arabic for Strife, which linked the verses in the Koran to anti-Semitism, terrorist attacks in New York and London and urged that, like Nazism, Islamic ideology has to be defeated .

Wilders faces five charges of inciting racial hatred between Oct 2006 and Mar 2008. If found guilty, Wilders faces over a year in prison or a £6,600 fine.

Speaking at his trial yesterday, Wilders said: I am sitting here as a suspect because I have spoken nothing but the truth. I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back.

However, proceedings were suspended for 24 hours, after Wilders demanded that the court's presiding judge be replaced. If the court rules in favour of the objections, new judges will need to be appointed, delaying proceedings.

After an opening statement by Wilders, Bram Moszkowicz, his lawyer told the court that the defendant would exercise his right to silence and would not answer questions during the trial.

Wilders also accused the Dutch authorities of putting on trial the 1.5 million voters who backed his anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV) during June elections. I am on trial, but on trial with me is the freedom of expression of many Dutch citizens, he said.

Offsite Comment: Wilders must be supported

5th October 2010. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org by Oliver Kamm

Index on Censorship logoIt does not matter if you agree with Geert Wilders's film, Fitna , or his politics. He must not be prosecuted for expressing his views.

Wilders's populist and nativist politics are exactly opposed to my own views, and entirely beside the point. In a constitutional state, with liberal political rights and the rule of law, a man is being prosecuted for causing offence by expressing his views. Wilders's protest that the judgement is an attack of freedom of expression is scarcely adequate to the infringement on liberty. These proceedings are a monstrous abuse of power. Wilders must be supported.

...Read the full article

Update: Prosecution recommends acquittal

16th October 2010. Based on article from  bbc.co.uk

Dutch prosecutors have recommended acquitting leading anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on all five charges of hate speech.

They said his comments had targeted Islam, not Muslims, and he had the right to comment on social issues.

The trial will continue next week and judges may still disagree with the prosecution and convict Wilders.

The trial of Wilders, who compared the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, has gripped the Netherlands. His Freedom Party's support is crucial to the country's new coalition government.

Prosecutors had initially declined to press charges against Wilders in June 2008. But they were ordered to do so in January 2009 by the appeals court, which ruled that there was significant evidence that the politician had sought to sow hatred .

Prosecutors Birgit van Roessel and Paul Velleman reached their conclusions after studying interviews with, and articles by, Wilders as well as his anti-Koran film Fitna . Criticism [of religion] is allowed, Ms van Roessel told the Amsterdam district court. Velleman told the court that most of the politician's remarks seemed to have targeted Islam as an ideology rather than singling out Muslims for abuse.

Update: Re-Trial

23rd October 2010. Based on article from  bbc.co.uk

Judges in the hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders have been ordered to step down by an independent appeals panel.

The move follows a request by Wilders' lawyers who said they feared the judges were biased against him.

The legal process that began in January must now begin again with new judges. The trial itself started in October.

Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz had argued that the bench at Amsterdam District Court had created an impression of partiality by putting off a decision on the defence's request to recall a witness. Being denied the opportunity to recall the witness would make it impossible for the defence to substantiate a crucial part of its case , he added.

A hastily convened panel said on Friday that it found the trial judges' decision to be incomprehensible in the absence of any motivation . They said that Wilders' fear of bias as a result was understandable .

Under the circumstances, the request [for the judges' removal] is granted, said a statement from the panel. Another chamber will handle the rest of the case.

Offsite Comment: The Lost Cause Against Wilders

28th October 2010. See  article from  online.wsj.com

wall street journal logoThe case against the Dutch politician has backfired in every way imaginable.

When even the prosecution calls for a defendant's acquittal and the trial judges have been disqualified for the appearance of bias, maybe it's time to drop the charges. Rather than a retrial, a dismissal would be the best outcome in the case of Geert Wilders, the Dutch lawmaker accused of insulting and inciting hatred against Muslims.

...Read the full article

 

25th October   

Update: More Means Less Avatar...

Extended version of Avatar withdrawn from Malta after dispute over PG vs 12 rating
Link Here  full story: James Cameron's Avatar...Avatar makes the worl'd headlines

Avatar Extended Collectors DVD Worthington A special extended 3D edition of James Cameron's science fiction film Avatar has been withdrawn by its Maltese distributors after the censor  board gave it a 12-rating rather than PG.

The original version of Avatar , screened in 2D and 3D, was classified PG and ran for 20 weeks in cinemas.

However, KRS Film Distributors said they did not agree with the new classification awarded to the extended version, which had an additional eight minutes of scenes scattered throughout the entire film.

The additional scenes in the special edition do not justify the film being given a higher classification than that of the original film, KRS said.

KRS Film Distributors and 20th Century Fox were left no option but to withdraw Avatar Special Edition 3D from playing in cinemas in Malta.

In the UK, the original version of Avatar in 2D and 3D and its extended 3D version were classified 12A.

 

23rd October   

Political Insult...

Party told to drop Kadhafi from political posters supporting expulsion of foreign criminals
Link Here

mcg logoSwiss authorities have ordered a far-right party to remove a picture of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi from a campaign poster that calls for foreign criminals to be expelled.

Geneva canton authorities said that, with the federal authorities, they had ordered the modification of a poster of the Geneva Citizens' Movement (MCG) that was an outrage to foreign states. The poster, dedicated to the initiative for the expulsion of foreign criminals, hits out directly at the Libyan head of state, it added in a statement.

The far-right party's poster is part of a campaign ahead of a nationwide referendum on whether foreign criminals who have committed certain crimes should be stripped of their right to remain in Switzerland and deported to their home countries.

In its poster in support of the initiative, the MCG juxtaposed a photo of Kaddafi against the text: He wants to destroy Switzerland . The MCG described the authorities' move as censorship.

 

23rd October   

No Kids...

Protest against age restrictions at Larry Clark exhibition
Link Here

pro larry clark protestTwo weeks ago, the Paris city hall decided to bar minors under 18 from attending a exhibition of works by American photographer Larry Clark currently on show in the city's Museum of Modern art.

An unusual demonstration of prudishness for France, that was quickly criticised by artists and youths alike.

To protest what they perceive as unnecessary censorship, a couple chose to pose entirely naked in front of the exhibit's photos of…naked couples.

This photo was posted by Justine Yvel on her Facebook account. The 33-year-old graphic designer explains that she and her partner decided to strip and pose naked in the exhibit because we grew up with Larry Clark's work, and although we're over 18 we're still exposed to censorship .

 

21st October   

Censor and Sensitivity...

Portuguese court unbans police detective's Maddie McCann book
Link Here

maddie truth of the lieKate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine, have suffered a setback in their legal case against a Portuguese police officer when a Lisbon appeal court overturned a ban on his book about the case.

The book by former police detective Gonçalo Amaral, who led the Madeleine investigation in the first five months after the three-year-old's disappearance, can now go back on sale.

In September last year the McCanns obtained the ban on Amaral's book Maddie – The Truth about the Lie , in which he claims they were involved in the toddler's disappearance.

The court said the decision to block sales of the book had broken a constitutional and universal right: that of opinion and freedom of expression. The contents of the book do not breach the basic rights of the plaintiffs, the court said.

The book is an exercise in freedom of speech, Amaral told Portugal's Lusa news agency. Portuguese democracy has won, as banning the book was unconstitutional.

A spokesman for the McCann family said the decision did not stop the defamation case. The defamation action against Mr Amaral is very much continuing, he said. Kate and Gerry's lawyers are now examining the detail of this latest ruling and are considering an appeal.

 

20th October   

Not Following the Bosnian Script...

Bosnian script censors relinquish their ban on Angelina Jolie's directorial debut
Link Here  full story: Angelina Jolie Film...Bosnia sensitivities about new film script

Bosnia flagAngelina Jolie has been granted permission to shoot her directing debut in Bosnia after government censors withdrew an earlier ban.

The Bosnian government imposed the injunction following complaints from the Association of Women Victims of War, which claimed the submitted screenplay centred on a Bosnian rape victim who falls in love with her Serbian attacker.

Producer Edin Sarkic said the screenplay had been handed to the Bosnian culture minister, Gavrilo Grahovac, in an effort to dispel the controversy. Authorities later agreed to let the shoot take place, having stated that incomplete paperwork was the reason for the delay.

Sarkic described the episode as unnecessary , and said he would now begin preparations for the shoot in November: It's a big thing for Bosnia that such a mega-mega-star is coming to Sarajevo.

Previously, Jolie argued in a written statement that it would be a shame if unfair pressure based on wrong information prevented her from shooting her movie.

 

19th October   

No Surrend...

Danish art exhibition cancelled over royal orgy cartoon
Link Here

surrend org logoSurrend describe themselves as:

Surrend is the name of a street-art group. The members are: Jan Egesborg, Pia Bertelsen. The group started during the funeral of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic in the winter of 2006.

The idea behind Surrend is to make fun of the world's powerful men. Surrend travels to places that are dangerous for artists – where usually only journalists dare to tread.

Surrend consists of independent artists – and is not connected to any NGO or political party.

Surrend uses the street as its exhibition space. And Surrend uses stickers with ironic texts as its only expression medium.

The Surrend project will consist of 20 different travels – and culminates in a gallery exhibition in Copenhagen.

A cartoon depicting the Danish royal family taking part in an orgy has led to the cancellation of a retrospective of works by satirical Danish artist duo Surrend (consisting of Jan Egesborg and Pia Bertelsen). These people just want to attract attention, nothing else, said Thomas Bloch Ravn, the director of Den Gamle By in Aarhus, Denmark's second city. It turned out that I cannot trust them and therefore I decided it's better not to collaborate with them.

The show was due to open in the Danish Poster Museum, part of Den Gamle By, on 13 October. We agreed on a retrospective exhibition, but when Surrend announced it was including a totally new poster depicting the Danish royals in a pornographic scene, that was against our agreement, Ravn said. This is a clear case of censorship , said Egesborg. Denmark pretends to encourage freedom of speech and argues for publishing a cartoon hurting millions of Muslims, but when it comes to its own royalty it's a different story.

Ravn denied censorship and said: In the same way that the editor-in-chief decides what is published in a newspaper, the head of a museum has the last saying regarding works in an exhibition. They are free to publish their work elsewhere. Peder Stougaard, the head of the Danish Poster Museum, said he disagreed with the show's cancellation, although he would not have displayed the royal family image.

Lars Hedegaard, the president of the Free Press Society, told The Art Newspaper that he sees the cancellation is an overreaction, but not censorship . The Danish Association of Visual Artists is backing Surrend, while the Association of Danish Museums said it supports Den Gamle By's decision.

The cartoon does seem a little disrespectful but can be viewed in article from theartnewspaper.com .

 

13th October   

Updated: Immoral Excesses...

Sarkozy hands over French liberty to the pope
Link Here

Pope BenedictThe internet should be regulated to curb its immoral excesses, according to Nicolas Sarkozy, who made the statement on a visit to the Pope.

There's no liberty without rules. The law of the jungle, survival of the fittest, the most cynical, it's contrary to the values of liberté, egalité, fraternité, it's counter to civilisation, said the president while at the Vatican.

Sarkozy has already talked of regulating the internet. In January, he called for a global strategy to clean up the network , including the use of filtering tools.

Socialist MP Patrick Bloche said the statement showed the president was willing to limit the incredible freedom that [he] is unable to accept . These words are the perfect illustration that Nicolas Sarkozy does not understand what the internet is about, he said, adding that the president was just presenting himself in front of the Pope as a good Catholic who fights against immorality .

The head of the LDH, Aurélien Boch, said: The internet is one of the rare media that Sarkozy can't control and that scares him. We are already heading towards a regulated internet, with the tools being set up by the laws Hadopi and Loppsi, he added

 

12th October   

Updated: Censorship Under Pressure...

China critic journalist refused entry to EU press conference
Link Here

EU flagEU appear to have bowed to Chinese pressure to ban Epoch Times journalist from press conference.

Lixin Yang, the Brussels correspondent for an independent Chinese media organisation, said security services at the council of ministers refused him entry to the building.

Yang has worked in the city for several years and has accreditation to cover the EU, including admission to the main EU institutions.

He wanted to attend a post-EU China summit news conference.

His media outlet, Epoch Times, is a known critic of the Chinese regime and he believes China put pressure on the council of ministers in order to avoid overly sensitive questions being asked at the press conference.

In the event, the conference was cancelled on the pretence that the summit had been delayed.

Yang, who has now lodged a formal complaint with the council, told theparliament.com : It was a very frustrating, embarrassing and humiliating experience. I normally have no problem getting into the council building and always attend the EU summits there without the slightest problem. On this occasion, however, I was told by the security guards that they would not allow me in.

They did not give a reason for this. The guard looked closely at my badge and, when he spotted my name and who I work for, he said he was under strict instructions not to let me in.

It is totally unacceptable whether or not the news conference went ahead. People might expect this in China but not at what is supposed to be the heart of Europe.

Update: EU admits barring journalist as requested by China

12th October 2010. Based on article from  euobserver.com

One of the reporters temporarily excluded from the China-EU summit last week has talked to EUobserver about his surprise at facing Chinese-style censorship in the bosom of the European Union.

Lixin Yang, who has full press accreditation in the EU institutions in Brussels, was first denied entry when he and three colleagues arrived at the metal detectors at the summit venue, the EU Council's Justus Lipsius building, at 2pm.

He returned at 4pm and was blocked again. Fellow reporters from Associated Press and Reuters interjected on his behalf. A senior Council security officer arrived and Yang was allowed to proceed. The officer refused to say who had ordered him to be kept out. An hour and a half later the Council announced that the post-summit press conference was cancelled.

Lixin said:The Chinese impose media censorship everywhere they go. But what surprised me was that it was in the Council, an EU building, and that the Council staff wouldn't admit it. It's censorship imposed from authoritarian regimes on the EU. What does this mean for the EU-China 'strategic' relationship?

The Brussels-based International Press Association (API) later reported that Council officials had initially excluded the reporters because China said they posed a security threat. It added that China cancelled the press conference when it learned that they had been let through.

A spokesman initially read out a statement that the China-EU press event was cancelled due to scheduling problems. Following a series of questions by API, commission officials then asked the cameras to be switched off and, in an off-the-record session, corroborated API's account and admitted that the whole incident was embarrassing for the EU.

API criticised EU leaders Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso for also canceling their press appearance in deference to the Chinese side.

 

5th October   

Update: Crucified by Censors...

Another Russian artist under duress
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Russia...Art exhibitions winds up the nutters

oleg mavromattiRussian prison means death for people like me, said Oleg Mavromatti, a filmmaker and performance artist.

Mavromatti fled to Bulgaria in 2000 after the Russian Orthodox Church complained about a movie he was shooting in which he is crucified. He was accused of violating a criminal code that includes inciting religious hatred and denigrating the church, an offense punishable by as much as five years in prison.

Last month, the Russian consulate in Sofia refused to renew Mavromatti's passport.

They gave me two options, he said in a telephone interview from his apartment in Sofia. Either I voluntarily fly to Moscow and stand trial or Interpol comes after me.

Mavromatti's case highlights what human-rights activists see as a return to Soviet-style censorship, with a resurgent Russian Orthodox Church playing a central role and the Kremlin supporting it.

Last month, four artworks by Avdei Ter-Oganian were temporarily withheld by Russian authorities from an exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris because, a Culture Ministry official said, they incited religious hatred.

But even after the Russian authorities released Ter-Oganian's work, the Prague-based artist announced he wouldn't participate in the Louvre show unless Mavromatti's passport is renewed.

In New York, Mavromatti's backers include U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Exit Art director Jeanette Ingberman, art dealer Ronald Feldman and Mark Rothko's son Christopher Rothko. All of them have written letters to immigration officials in Bulgaria and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in support of Mavromatti's application for the humanitarian-refugee status he would need to enter another country.

 

1st October   

Italy Threatens to Send the Boys Round...

Italy easily offended by jokey 'What Country' app
Link Here

what country app Italy's tourism minister has demanded that Apple remove the supposedly offensive What Country app from its online store after the travel guide described the Italy as the home of pizza, the Mafia and scooters .

The application, which can be downloaded to iPhones, iPads and iPods, characterises each nation with words and images; Italy is summed up with a road sign which reads Mafia parking only .

Britain is characterised by tea, weird sense of humour, football hooligans and rain , while Germany is summed up with beer, discipline and autobahns . China is reduced to overpopulation, kung fu, Great Wall, Tibet and tea ceremony , while the most defining characteristics of the US are melting pot, hamburger and the American dream .

The tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, condemned the app as an affront to Italians' dignity, describing it as offensive and unacceptable .

She instructed government lawyers to take legal action against Apple and demanded that the application be removed from its iTunes online store.

Italy is a beacon in the world for its history, culture and style. I cannot allow our country to be discredited by having it represented by a criminal organisation, the minister said: For this reason I have asked Apple to withdraw the application from sale on its online site and asked the state attorney's office to take legal action against those responsible for it.

The application is described on the iTunes website as a light- hearted and funny view of the world. This is not a travel guide and should not be taken too seriously. Enjoy and have fun!

 

1st October   

Update: Tyranny of Silence...

Flemming Rose's book about the Mohammed cartoons goes on sale
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

tavshedens tyranni A new book containing the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed went on sale on Thursday in Denmark, on the fifth anniversary of their original publication.

The 12 cartoons were initially published by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September 2005, sparking violent protests a few months later in several Muslim countries.

Jyllands-Posten culture editor Flemming Rose, who had commissioned the cartoons for an article on self-censorship, said he wrote the book as part of a process of closure , but also in a bid to discuss freedom of speech in broader terms. For me, the book ends the Mohammed cartoon phase, he said.

On the eve of the book's publication, the Danish government said it feared fresh protests. The foreign minister met with envoys from 17 Muslim countries as part of efforts to avert this, while underlining the government's wish to protect freedom of speech.

At a news conference on the eve of the publication of Tavshedens Tyranni (The Tyranny of Silence) , Rose quoted a sentence from the book stating that the cartoons do not legitimate violence, and the issue is not worth a single human life .

Rose noted that the cartoons were commissioned after he read about a Danish author's difficulties in finding an illustrator for a children's book on the prophet. After three rejections, the author found an artist, who however refused to be named in the book.

Following the paper's publication of the cartoons, Rose has been repeatedly threatened - a fate he shares with former Jyllands-Posten cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew a cartoon of the prophet with a bomb in his turban.