Human Rights | Library ethics & Advocacy | Freedom of Movement
Open Societies are Healthy Societies
Libraries are at the heart of healthy societies. By bringing people together – students, researchers, creators, citizens – they support learning, sharing, and the creation of new ideas.
They also support the delivery of key human rights, as set out both in national constitutions and international conventions, most importantly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: freedom of expression and access to information, as well as the right to participate in cultural life and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.
Libraries have long supported the flow of ideas and information across borders. IFLA has called for reforms to laws that hold this back. Evidence shows that such flows promote innovation and creativity, which in turn drives growth, jobs and equality everywhere.
However, arbitrary and unjustified barriers to the movement of people jeopardise this situation. Such policies run contrary to states’ obligations under international law, which prohibit discrimination of any kind on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in the UN’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
Read more: www.ifla.org/node/11176
Reaffirming our commitment to protecting free expression
On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, PEN International has issued a statement aimed at encouraging governments to protect critical voices and freedom of expression.
IFLA and dozens of other free-speech organisations, institutes, and associations have added their signature to the statement in support of the crucial principles outlined and addressed.
The statement calls on all Governments to:
- Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, and especially for journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely;
- Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, and ensure that journalists, artists and human rights defenders may perform their work without interference;
- Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others exercising their right to freedom of expression, and ensure impartial, timely and thorough investigations that bring the executors and masterminds behind such crimes to justice. Also ensure victims and their families have expedient access to appropriate remedies;
- Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially vague and overbroad national security, sedition, obscenity, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws, and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence critical voices, including on social media and online;
- Ensure that respect for human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.
Read the full statement: English | français
Chief Justice John Roberts in Washington in 2013. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Valerie Schultz works as a library technical assistant for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., I’m surprised at you. Didn’t your mother raise you better than to insult whole groups of people?
For those who are wondering, I’m talking about a remark the chief justice made last month during oral arguments in Bruce v. Samuels, a dispute about federal prisoners paying legal fees. Here I quote from Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog: When reminded that prisons maintain libraries, “Roberts then shot back, presumably sarcastically, ‘I’m sure they are very good libraries, too.’ ”
I run a library at a state prison for men in California, and I can attest that it is indeed a “very good library.” My library is tasked with assuring that inmates have access to the courts because, although they are convicted criminals, they retain certain civil and human rights. We provide them with access to legal forms, typewriters, law books and computers that can be used to research case law and the myriad rules of the courts, as well as a daily legal newspaper. We make available typing paper, numbered pleading paper and envelopes for filing court documents. We make the required number of copies of outgoing legal work. We weigh documents to determine the number of stamps needed for mailing. In short, we have everything that an inmate acting as his own lawyer needs to bring his concern to the attention of the appropriate court. Read article