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Update: Deportation of human rights?

After Charles Atangana has been arrested last year, he remains on bail conditions, still fearing deportation.However, the bail conditions have been relaxed thanks to the effort of support campaigns such as by the National Union of Journalists.

The court case for Charles has been set for 15 February 2011. It will be accompanied by a demonstration in front of the High Court in London.

Protest for Charles Atangana

In my previous post about this issue everybody was invited to vote in a poll. The question was whether deportation is a human rights violation. Of all people taking part nobody thought that we have already too many immigrants in the UK. 50% of the voters said that everybody should have the right to live where she/he wants. Another 50% voted that it has to be looked at case by case.

Jonathan, a reader of the 4thPillar commented: “I think that the UK is quite liberal compared to other countries (although I may be wrong) on issues with immigration. It seems impossible, and also unfair, to apply blanket regulations.”

A research by the British Council (2007) ranked the UK in Europe’s top 5 most welcoming countries for immigrants. The report said it offered the fifth most favourable policies for allowing foreigners long-term residence. However, concerning integration policy it was ranked 15.

As always with statistics, it depends on what figures you are looking at. A poll published by the German-Marshal Fund thinktank (2009) gives a different impression. The survey says that two out of three Britons, more than in all the other countries surveyed, thought immigration was more of a problem than an opportunity.

The UK also was the only surveyed country where the majority (54%) agreed with the statement that immigrants are taking jobs away from the native born. Interesting as well is that British people believed the number of immigrants in the country was almost triple the actual level (27% compared with 10%).

No doubt immigration is an increasingly important and sensitive issue. It is affecting many human rights issues and ultimately also freedom of press.

I think this is a good occasion to remember the first article of the human rights declaration:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

You can take action and join an online petition to help preventing Charles from deportation.

Read more: The Guardian “A journalist in danger”


WikiLeaks: Is information a crime?

Some would certainly like to answer yes to this, describing the organisation as illegal and dangerous. Others think WikiLeaks should be rewarded with a Nobel Prize, for its efforts for Freedom of Information.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange, spokesperson and director of WikiLeaks

Since the organisation was launched in 2007 it generated a number of controversial headlines by releasing previously unpublished and sensitive documents. We are not talking about a few drops here, but rather heavy showers of information. In its first year WikiLeaks claimed to have a database containing more than 1.2 million documents. Most of it considered confidential, some of it secret.

The information is mostly leaked by anonymous sources, who see a need for disclosure in the public interest. The topics range from corruption and war to corporations, ecology and freedom of speech.

One of the latest releases caused outrage in the US government. On 28 November WikiLeaks and five major international newspapers simultaneously published confidential diplomatic cables from 274 embassies dated from 1966–2010.

The contents include numerous unguarded comments and revelations such as dealings between various countries, actions in the War on Terror, US Intelligence efforts and other senstitive diplomatic actions. Despite serious criticism by the US, WikiLeaks plans to release the entirety of 251,287 cables within the next months.

Criticism and praise to WikiLeaks has been equally overwhelming. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated that she “absolutely condemns” Wikileaks actions and that the release of information on the site was “grossly irresponsible” and “illegal.”

Peter King, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee of the United States House of Representatives, has stated his support for listing WikiLeaks as a “foreign terrorist organisation” explaining that “WikiLeaks presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.”

In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted a video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by U.S. forces

On the other hand the organisation has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award and Amnesty International’s UK Media Award, in the category “New Media” in 2008. Julian Assange, who is the spokesperson and director of WikiLeaks, has been suggested by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev as a Nobel Prize laureate.

WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation, which says its goal is to bring important news and information to the public. They state on their website: “The broader principles on which our work is based are the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history.”

In particular the organisation grounds on Article 19 of the Human Rights Declaration, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Naturally governments and organisation, which are negatively affected by the publications, are opposing it strongly. But the question arises how far the freedom of speech reaches, even in stable democracies. Can it really considered to be a crime to reveal information? Don’t we have the right to know about the wrong-doings of governments and other organisations, which might have an essential affect on peoples lives and even our own lives?

WikiLeaks represents an enormous pond of information, which is of high value for journalists to help them to do what they are supposed to: Informing the public about important issues, which is the best stabilizer for a healthy democracy.


Julian Assange, the spokesperson of WikiLeaks, on the Afghan War Logs

An excerpt of John Pilger’s new documentary “The War You Don’t See”, including an interview with Julian Assange

Hilary Clinton condemns WikiLeaks