General News of Thursday, 15 November 2012

Source: PEN International/Ghanaian Centre

Day of Imprisoned Writer

Today, Thursday November 15 2012 will be the 31st PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer. On this day, Centres around the world are celebrating the courage of their colleagues who are struggling for their right to freedom of expression. In Ghana, the PEN Centre, in collaboration with the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) are observing the day with an event at PAWA House in Accra. With the repeal of the Newspaper Licensing Law and abrogation of the Criminal Libel Section of the Criminal Code, freedoms of the media and expression have been more or less fully respected with no writers in prison.

This year, as in previous years, PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, has selected five cases, one from each world region and each representative of the type of repression faced by writers every year. These include imprisonment, court cases, threats, and even murder. Summaries of the cases to be highlighted this year are given below. Local Centres may choose to focus on other cases and the Ghana Centre, is focussing on free, fair and non-violent elections.The focus cases for 2012 are:

o Shiva Nazar Ahari ( Iran ): Journalist, writer and human rights activist who was sentenced to four years in prison for her writings and advocacy. o Ericson Acosts (Philippines): A poet, songwriter and activist who has been held without trial since February 2011 on charges which appear to be linked to his writings on human right and environmental issues. o Regina Martinez ( Mexico ): Correspondent for an investigation news magazine who was murdered in Xalapa, Vercruz State , in April 2012, most likely because of her reporting on organised crime and corruption. . o Muharrem Erbey ( Turkey ): Human rights lawyer, writer and Vice-President of the Human Rights Association (IHD), imprisoned under the Anti-Terror Law since December 2009 on charges of “membership of an illegal organization”,charges that appear to be linked to his work as a human rights defender. o Eskinder Nega ( Ethiopia ): Journalist and blogger convicted to 18 years in prison on dubious terrorism related charges, clearly levied as punishment for his reporting on government human rights abuses.

PEN International in a statement said it “looks once again to the 15 November Day of the Imprisoned writer as an opportunity to renew our calls for justice for writers and journalist who have faced harassment and attacks as a result of their work.” The Ghanaian Centre has Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah as President and Mr. Mackay Anim-Appiah as Executive Director.