Free Expression Project

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The Free Expression Project of Human Rights Watch (formerly the Fund for Free Expression) emphasizes the connection between freedom of expression and global social problems by showing the effect that censorship and information policies have on the treatment of issues such as AIDS, famine, governmental corruption and environmental degradation. Working with the five regional divisions of Human Rights Watch, the Free Expression Project investigates and analyzes expression problems in particular countries. It also administers the Hellman/Hammett grants to persecuted writers and journalists, and manages the work of two casework committees, the Committee for International Academic Freedom and Filmwatch." [1]

"The Fund for Free Expression was founded in 1975, under the leadership of Robert L. Bernstein, as a group of writers, editors, publishers, attorneys and civic leaders concerned with human rights abuses. The Fund was the parent organization of Helsinki Watch, founded in 1978, and Americas Watch, founded in 1981. With the more recent establishment of Asia Watch, Africa Watch and Middle East Watch, and with the creation in 1987 of a new parent organization, Human Rights Watch, the Fund's focus shifted to special projects -- for example, joining with the Association of American Publishers in sponsoring US exhibits at Moscow Book Fairs and undertaking a mission to South Africa to assess the impact of the inclusion of books and educational materials in the trade embargo. The Fund has also served as the United States sponsor of international anti-censorship organizations such as ARTICLE 19 and Index on Censorship." [2]

In 1990 Roland Algrant succeeded Founding Chairman Robert L. Bernstein as their new chairman. In 1990 the "new executive director is Gara LaMarche, succeeding Sophie C. Silberberg, who was named along with Robert Wedgeworth as new Vice-Chairs of the Fund. Lydia Lobenthal is the Fund's associate." [3]

In 2003, Sam Zia-Zarifi, was director of HRW’s academic freedom program which is "the successor to the Fund for Free Expression and the Helsinki Watch Committees, which date from the mid-1970s." [4] They have also expanded their "work as part of the Network on Academic and Educational Rights, or NEAR."

"The academic freedom program aims to monitor, expose, and mobilize concerted action to challenge threats to academic freedom worldwide, and to foster greater scholarly and media attention to the critical role played by institutions of higher education in the promotion of human rights and the development and preservation of civil society." [5]


In 1985 they received a grant from the Ford Foundation

According to Media Transparency between 1998 and 1992 they received five grants from the Bradley Foundation. [6]

The Human Rights Watch Academic Freedom Committee

(Last updated on August 17, 2000) "The Human Rights Watch Academic Freedom Committee is composed of twenty-nine academic administrators and scholars. Its co-chairs are Jonathan Fanton, President Emeritus of the New School for Social Research, Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Hanna Holborn Gray, Professor at the University of Chicago, Yolanda T. Moses, President of the American Association for Higher Education and Charles Young, Chancellor Emeritus of UCLA.

"Its membership includes:


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