Free Circulation of Information and the Shrinking of Civic Space in the Arab World: Security Before Health – Event13.04.2021

Maharat Foundation is pleased to invite you to an online debate session through Zoom platform entitled “Free Circulation of Information and the Shrinking of Civic Space in the Arab World: Security Before Health” on April 14th 2021 at 15:00 in the afternoon, Beirut time (14:00 CET time).

This event is organized by Maharat, Gulf Center for Human Rights and Article 19 MENA, in partnership with EuroHealthNet.

Access to health information is a fundamental right so that citizens can make decisions that enhance their health and contribute to the elimination of the # COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, both journalists and civil society play an essential role in promoting free flow of information and holding public authorities accountable for the measures taken to combat the epidemic.

In fact, practices in the Arab countries often link health security to national security, limiting free flow of information, and imposing restrictions on journalists and civil society when dealing with governmental measures and other measures taken.

In this context, the discussion will focus on the boundaries between basic freedoms and public safety or national health security, and how these rights are balanced based on the experience of each of the participating organizations.

The objective of this meeting is to gather recommendations that contribute to ensuring governments’ transparency regarding their strategies to combat the epidemic and their options for health measures, as well as to work on strengthening the ability of journalists and civil society to access information and demand accountability.

This event will gather:

  • Rola Mikhael, Executive Director of Maharat Foundation, on the consequences of linking health security to national security in the Arab world, based on the documentation periodically published on Skills Magazine,
  • Salwa Al-Ghazwani, Director of Article 19 MENA, on the reality of access to information, challenges in laws, practice, and standards for balancing basic rights and national health security,
  • Khaled Ibrahim, Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, on the shrinking civil space in the Arab world, especially during the pandemic, and most relevant recommendations to promote the free circulation of information,
  • Jascha Galaski, Advocacy Officer of Civil Liberties Union for Europe watchdog, on the conclusions of the Annual report on the state of democracy in Europe during the pandemic.

This session comes as part of a series of meetings and other activities that Maharat will conduct in cooperation with EuroHealthNet, a European network of actors in the field of public health, within the framework of the campaign “ACCESS TO PUBLIC HEALTH INFORMATION : A CROSS-MEDITERRANEAN ONLINE ADVOCACY”, coached by the EU-funded regional programme Med Dialogue for Rights and Equality.


Following registration, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting which will be held in Arabic with English interpretation for speakers and the registered audience.


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