Media Freedom in the Face of Blasphemy Laws
Sponsored by Columbia GFoE, High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, and PEN America
On World Press Freedom Day, join the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom and special guests for the launch of the Report on International Standards related to Blasphemy Laws and Media Freedom.
The event is organized together with Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression and co-sponsored by PEN America. The report is authored by Karuna Nundy, member of the High Level Panel, and is the result of close collaboration with leading academic institutions from around the world. It examines national laws regulating speech that is characterized as ‘blasphemous’ and assesses the compatibility of those laws with media freedom. Reflecting on the right of journalists to operate free from control, censorship and harassment, this Panel will discuss the findings and recommendations of the Report.
- Catalina Botero, Consulting Director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
- Professor Can Yeginsu, Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, and Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
- Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, Director, IBA Human Rights Institute, and Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
- Hina Jilani, Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Human Rights Defenders (2000-2008)
- Karuna Nundy, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, Report Author
- Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer, PEN America
Catalina Botero Marino is the consulting director of Global Freedom of Expression. She is a lawyer, director of the UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Expression at the Universidad de Los Andes, co-chair of the Oversight Board of Facebook and Instagram, member of the external transparency panel of the Inter-American Development Bank, commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists and member of the Advisory Board of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. She is an adjunct professor at American University’s Human Rights Academy. She was Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Universidad de Los Andes, and an Associate Judge of the Constitutional Court and of the Council of State in Colombia.
Can Yeginsu is a barrister practising from 3 Verulam Buildings where he has been consistently recognised as one of the U.K.’s leading lawyers practising in civil liberties and human rights, administrative and public law, and international law. Mr. Yeginsu has appeared in numerous cases as counsel representing journalists, as well as free speech and media organisations, before a range of courts and tribunals, including the English Court of Appeal, the U.K. Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the ECOWAS Court of Justice. He is also Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School (New York), where he co-teaches a seminar on freedom of expression, and is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law (Washington D.C.) and Koç University Law School (Istanbul), where he teaches international law.
Helena Kennedy KC is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. She is widely regarded as one of the leading criminal and public law practitioners in the U.K., representing defendants in many landmark cases in the English courts. Lady Kennedy sits on the House of Lords’ EU Committee and chairs the EU Justice Sub-Committee. She formerly sat on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, and formerly chaired the British Council and JUSTICE, a leading all-party human rights and law reform organisation in the U.K.
Hina Jilani – Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Human Rights Defenders (2000-2008)
Hina Jilani is a distinguished lawyer and human rights defender based in Pakistan. She has represented activists and political prisoners in landmark cases before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Ms. Jilani co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Women’s Action Forum, and Pakistan’s first all-female legal practice in 1980. She is the former UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and is a member of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights. In 2013, Ms. Jilani was appointed to The Elders, a leading group of global leaders established by Nelson Mandela, which works on global human rights and peace-building matters.
Karuna Nundy is an Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and an international lawyer. She is a leading civil liberties expert and has argued and won some of India’s most significant human rights cases, including constitutional challenges to online free speech restrictions. Ms. Nundy acts for media houses and journalists from various countries, and has advised a number of governments, civil society movements and the UN on legal policy and reform. She has assisted with the drafting of India’s Right to Food Act and new anti-rape laws, which were enacted following a series of high-profile cases in 2012.
Suzanne Nossel is Chief Executive Officer at PEN America and author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. Prior to joining PEN America, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. She served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, leading US engagement in the UN and multilateral institutions on human rights issues, and in the Clinton Administration as Deputy to the US Ambassador for UN Management and Reform. Nossel coined the term “Smart Power,” which was the title of a 2004 article she published in Foreign Affairs Magazine and later became the theme of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in office. She is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published op-eds in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, and Democracy, among others. She has served senior roles in the private sector at Dow Jones and Bertelsmann. Nossel is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.