Be Safe, Not Silent

There’s no denying it: 2020 has been hard. And before we welcome 2021 (with open arms), we want to acknowledge the incredible work done by the IFEX network in keeping freedom of expression and information front and centre while facing such staggering global challenges – especially this year, when the free flow of health and safety information has had a outsized influence on our lives.

The organisations that make up the network have brought their experience, expertise, resolve and creativity to speak truth to power, amplify marginalized voices, and demand justice. While they have been doing their best to stay safe, they have been far from silent on the issues.

In 2020 IFEX members have been quick to point out how the pandemic has changed the free expression landscape:

We know that 2020 has been disruptive, particularly because we haven’t been able to get together in person. The individuals who make up this network are always a source of energy and inspiration. So we thought this year would be a good time to relaunch our updated Faces of Free Expression series.

This project truly puts a human face on our work; people included in the series have been the centre of advocacy efforts by IFEX members, allies in legal challenges, and even past and present IFEX members. The Faces of Free Expression are a reminder that there is strength in numbers; we need to keep working together to counter actions that degrade the right to freedom of expression and information.

Over the last year IFEX members have continued to support each other’s work by signing on to dozens of statements and letters to governments and international bodies. And the organisms we rely on to uphold free expression as a critical human right have pressed on – appointing three new Special Rapporteurs in the area of free expression: Teresa Ribeiro of the OSCE, Irene Khan at the UN, and former IFEX council member Pedro Vaca Villarreal at the OAS. This is a reminder that these bodies are not letting the pandemic halt their work, and will be there for us to consult and inform.

Our network has shown that they can be resilient and safe in this pandemic without sacrificing  ideals or their voices, and this is something we want to encourage in all our partners and wider network. In other words: Be Safe, Not Silent.

While we still have a way to go before we discover our new normal – before we can travel and meet each other in person – we are confident that the individuals and organisations that make up this network are as committed as ever to persevering and innovating to continue the work.

To our members, allies, partners and supporters: Thank you for sticking with it, and us, while we close the door on 2020 and get ready to meet 2021 with a renewed sense of purpose. To everyone reading this, remember, you too can Be Safe, Not Silent.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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