Accountability: The acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies.
Impunity: In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress.
At Global Voices Advocacy, we strongly believe in accountability as a way to prevent crimes from repeating themselves. Freedom of expression online is our focus, and we have witnessed an alarming trend in online censorship in recent years. Whether it is to purportedly fight pornography, to supposedly protect intellectual property or for alleged security reasons, netizens everywhere are increasingly vulnerable to Internet restrictions and repression.
Acts of online “thuggery” by dictatorial governments against netizens have intensified. Cyberactivists are jailed, harassed, tortured and even killed for using the internet to denounce repressive regimes: Cao Haibao in China, Twitter users in Bahrain, blogger Ruy Salgado in Mexico, Facebook users in Iran, the Bulgarian authors of the local version of Wikileaks, Vietnamese musicians, and countless Syrian bloggers and video-activists, are all but just a few of the most recent cases we documented.
To keep track of this worrying trend, we launched a couple of years ago, Threatened Voices, a project of Global Voices Advocacy dedicated to documenting and publicizing the cases of endangered netizens around the world.
From our experience reporting on human rights abuses on a daily basis, the crimes which remain unaccounted for are the most likely to continue being repeated. Impunity gives oppressive governments a carte blanche to silence opposition to their policies, as we have witnessed in the case of Syria and other repressive regimes. That is why it is crucial that netizens worldwide stand up to demand protection of online rights and freedoms.
To demand justice for all artists, journalists, musicians and writers who are forcibly silenced around the world, IFEX has decided to name November 23th the International Day to End Impunity:
The goal of the Day is to achieve justice for those persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression by drawing global attention to the issue of impunity. The Day not only raises public awareness about what creates and sustains a culture of impunity, it also prompts concerned citizens worldwide to take action, make their voices heard and demand justice.
We, at Global Voices Advocacy, gladly join the campaign focusing on freedom of expression online.
You too can join by sending us a video, a photo, a hand-made drawing, a short text (500 words long) or any piece of creativity about one or all of the following:
- How do you think the internet would look like if censorship was prohibited by law;
- How the cyberspace would look like if censors could not get away with their actions anymore;
- Tell us how you fight online censorship and share your successful stories with us!
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