Politics & Society

Index Index – International free speech round up 14/02/13

A Bahraini teenager has been killed by security forces today (14 February) during demonstrations to mark the second anniversary of the Bahrain revolution. Al Jazeeera reported the 16-year-old boy’s name as Ali Ahmed Ibrahim al-Jazeeri. He allegedly died from internationally banned exploding bullets after Bahraini authorities opened fire on the mounting crowds in Al DAih, near the capital Manama. The interior ministry announced a death on its Twitter this morning, but didn’t disclose any further details.

bahrain14feb bilad - Demotix

  — A child painted with the national colours of Bahrain during the uprisings second anniversary protests, in which a teenager was killed

Evidence given by Jeremy Paxman and a senior BBC official to the BBC internal inquiry into its handling of the Jimmy Savile affair will be removed from public transcripts detailing the investigations evidence. Lawyers examining the soon to be published transcripts said that evidence from the Newsnight presenter and global news director Peter Horrocks was potentially defamatory, and was particularly critical of how BBC management handled the criticism arising from the Savile scandal in Autumn last year. The findings of the inquiry, overseen by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard, were published by the BBC in December. The report examined the corporation’s handling of Newsnight’s dropped investigation into the case in 2011, and its later response after Savile was allegedly outed as a paedophile in October 2012. At the time the transcript was produced, those giving evidence reportedly didn’t know the report was to be made public. Overall, less than 10 per cent of the Pollard review transcripts will be redacted before publication.

A powerful new firewall used to censor online activity could be established in Pakistan within the next month. The Pakistani government has allegedly been working with the same technology companies that helped Iran, China and Libya curb online dissent, to allow authorities to block pornographic or blasphemous online content. Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik confirmed the reports on Twitter, saying The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) were in their final negotiations for obtaining the software. The PTA originally tried to introduce a similar $10million measure in 2012, which was quashed after being met with fierce public opposition. Whilst Pakistan claims to use the firewall to protect the country’s internet users from blasphemous and pornographic content, it has already blocked a number of unrelated sites, such as the US-based Buzzfeed.

An NHS whistleblower under investigation for high mortality rates has voiced concerns over patient safety despite a legal gag preventing him from speaking out. Gary Walker warned civil servants that he had been given the same choices that had resulted in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust scandal. He was fired from his job as chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust in 2010 for gross professional misconduct, allegedly because he swore during a meeting. Walker claims he was fired for refusing to meet Whitehall targets for non-emergency patients and then gagged as part of a reported £500,000 settlement emerging from an unfair work dismissal tribunal. He said he was instructed by the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority to meet the 18-week non-emergency target “whatever the demand” and was told to resign when he refused to do so. East Midlands Strategic Health Authority refuted the claims. The Francis report published last week recommended that gagging orders on NHS staff be lifted, orders which Walker said were due to a “culture of fear” within the service. His case has been raised in the commons.

The Israeli government has admitted that “Prisoner X”, the mystery detainee who later committed suicide in solitary confinement, was in fact a spy for Israel. Ben Zygier, as he is now known from reports, was part of Israel’s external intelligence forces known as the Mossad and was arrested in 2010 for charges which still remain unspecified, though they were revealed to be serious. The detention of Australian-Israeli Zygier was reportedly enshrouded in such secrecy that even the prison guards didn’t know his true identity or alleged offence. The information was revealed after a gagging order which forbade the media in Israel from reporting on the case was partially lifted by the Israeli government on 13 February.

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One Comment

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