Al Jazeera has announced the launch of the Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk, which will be headed by Sami Al Haj, the Al Jazeera cameraman who was recently released from Guantanamo Bay after six and a half years of detention. The primary focus of the Desk will be to promote respect for human rights and public liberties by monitoring, documenting, broadcasting and raising awareness for these key issues in the world as a whole and in the Arab region in particular. The Desk will work closely with Al Jazeera’s news division and establish a specialised database on human rights and public liberties issues.
“This important Al Jazeera initiative will promote respect for public liberties and highlight the need for basic human rights for all individuals throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. Broadcasting and promoting those values will create an incentive for their respect and fulfillment among all those reached by Al Jazeera’s media network,” said Wadah Khanfar, Director General of Al Jazeera Network. “The Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk is a groundbreaking project that builds on Al Jazeera’s tradition of reporting events and stories that too often are not told. We’re very pleased to have Sami Al Haj lead this initiative for advancing public liberties and human rights that follows Al Jazeera’s tradition of expanding the boundaries of journalism.”
Sami Al Haj, the newly appointed Head of the Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk added, “I am truly honoured to be part of this historic project. My years at Guantanamo made me appreciate in a very profound manner how basic human rights could be violated and the fundamental importance of public liberties. These experiences are etched deeply into my soul. I firmly believe that through the dedication of the Al Jazeera Network and the newly established desk, we can promote the fundamental values of human rights and create an incentive for others. Al Jazeera will have an unmatched platform to promote these ideas and to foster a dialogue on the media’s role in advancing human rights.”
Day to day tasks will include the monitoring and documenting of achievements and violations in the field of human rights, keeping track of all regional and international developments pertaining to the systematisation of human rights and public liberties protection, documenting different experiences, producing reports and media programming on human rights and public liberties as well as working on capacity building in the field of human rights and public liberties.
Additionally, the Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk will contribute to research and studies in the field of human rights and public liberties. The initiative is being launched on Al Jazeera Network’s 12th anniversary celebration.
Al Jazeera started out 12 years ago as the first channel in the world dedicated to providing comprehensive, independent television news and live debate for the Arab world. The Channel now has an estimated peak audience of over 50 million viewers and was ranked by brandchannel.com as one of the most impactful news brands globally. As a natural extension of its spirit and mission, Al Jazeera has over the years created a number of other channels and services – in March 2006 Al Jazeera was formally named the Al Jazeera Network, transforming its operation into an international media corporation.
The Al Jazeera Network now consists of: the flagship Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Documentary, Al Jazeera Sport, Al Jazeera.net (the English and Arabic web sites), the Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Center, the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live), and Al Jazeera Mobile.