IN SYRIA JUSTICE COMES WITH FREEDOM

by: Bianca La Placa

“It is time for the international community to do its duty and not to let justice be put aside during the Geneva peace talks on behalf of the political system,” says Mazen Darwish, founder of the Syrian Center For Media and Freedom of expression (SCM)
“Justice remains the strongest weapon to curb violence, combat radicalism and allow Syrian refugees to return home”

But When and How does the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) work? This is explained by SMC’s Communications Manager.

Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) is an independent Syrian civil society organization active since its foundation in 2004, focusing on promoting democracy, fundamental rights, and transitional justice in Syria. The center is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), International Press Institute (IPI), Global Fund for Media Development (GFMD), and the Transitional Justice Coordination Group.

Since 2010 SCM has held consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC)

SCM since early years of 2000s was one of the few organization active inside Syria following and monitoring the media and freedom of expression violations inside the country, conducting many studies and reports, including the subject of censorship on the Internet.

The SCM’s work on the issues of supporting media and freedom of expression, and all other sensitive issues the center was working on, caused a lot of harassments, which escalated in 2012 and ended up with Intelligence Security forces storming into the center, closing the office, and detaining a number of SCM members, including Mr. Mazen Darwish, the head of the center who spent years behind bars, till he was released in late 2015.

And who are the people working with SCM?
Today, and despite the serious and dangerous nature of our work, we are a network of 17 members, women and men; Lawyers, Journalists, activists, communications specialists, from various and different backgrounds, who believe in diversity and equality in Syrian society. we are working together as one team to promote the principles of peace and reconciliation in Syrian society, and to advocate the Syrian cause in international forums.

What are SCM’s main goals and how it fund them?
SCM is a nonprofit, independent organization. Its programs are funded by the international and European partners of human rights organizations.
The aim of our work on these topics we are covering is ultimately to provide added value to the Syrian context and to provide all that the Syrian society needs. We choose our subjects and topics carefully, keen not to duplicate the work of other organizations that are working on similar issues, so we can put our efforts where it’s most needed.

Since 2011, the bloody conflict that is being experienced in Syria has evoked increasingly violent language, in parallel.

One of SMC’s programs is Hate Speech Observatory, what this program  it?

“Through this program, we aim to contribute towards achieving civil peace in Syria,  and a step toward a democratic Syria. through monitoring media outlets that use hate speech and incite violence to reduce the use of such discourse and so its destructive impact on the Syrian society.

We will during the year 2017 assess the extent of the use of hate speech in Syrian media, and raise awareness in the Syrian media community of the causes, consequences, and ways to deal with the issue”

One of the foremost activities of the SMC is the “Journalists’ House“, explain what it consists of?
“As for Journalists House, in this program we are focusing on media workers and outlet protection and safety. To this end, we document violations against media workers and outlets. we also facilitate access to support mechanisms such as for emergency medical assistance or assistance to reach a safe location in cases of media workers threatened due to their work.

In the coming years, we plan to provide the Syrian media community with media support and development services and promote professional media values and principles.

Source: Caffe dei Giornalisti

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