Portsmouth Law School

Our PhD students

Photo of Omid Shams

Omid Shams

  • Qualifications: BA in English Literature, MA in American Studies
  • Role Title: PhD student
  • Address: Richmond Building Portland Street Portsmouth PO1 3DE
  • Telephone: tbc
  • Email: Omid.ShamsGakieh@myport.ac.uk
  • Department: Portsmouth Law School
  • Faculty: Faculty of Business and Law


Omid Shams has over 15 years of experience as a writer, Journalist and human rights activist. In 2014, after experiencing threats and assaults from the authorities in Iran as a result of his writings and engagement in the human rights activism, he fled his home country for Denmark under the ICORN’s protection program for writers at risk. He then became the honorary member of Danish PEN. In Feb 2016, he was accepted as a PhD candidate by University of Portsmouth, school of law, through a bursary scheme Led by Business School in cooperation with Amnesty International.

Thesis title: Indirect Mechanisms of Censorship: Towards A General Theory of Indirect Censorship With A Focus On Iran's News And Cultural Media Industry

First supervisor: Dr Panos Kapotas, Second Supervisor: Dr Susan Sampaio Dias

Thesis summary:

Censorship has always seemed to be implicit in any form of government. The methods of utilizing censorship, however, vary by different governments and regulation bodies. While the conventional methods of censorship are still central to governments’ agenda of controlling opinions, ideas and information, the new mechanisms of control, known as soft or indirect censorship, has emerged to be more hidden, untraceable and, from certain perspectives, difficult to be labelled as censorship. Indirect censorship has been utilised in different societies and by a variety of administrative and private actors. It is crucial for protecting the right to freedom of expression to fully understand the scope and impact of these methods of censorship and to address the legal gaps which could be abused in favour of implementing these methods along with the potentiality of international and domestic remedial measures.

The goal of this research is to establish a general theory of indirect censorship founded upon a legal framework determining its definition, types of utilisation and scope of effectiveness with a focus on Iran in particular and in comparison with other countries as case studies.

The main objectives are: 

  • Putting forward a comprehensive theoretical framework for indirect censorship in order to fill the theoretical gaps of previous studies on censorship.
  • Classifying all types of indirect censorship and evaluate them under international and domestic law.
  • Make recommendations on potentiality of legal and legislative remedial measures to protect free speech against indirect censorship.

Perceiving censorship as a multidimensional process, this study will use a multidisciplinary approach in order to reflect on the real experience of the censored voices and to avoid the abstractness of a merely legal discussion.

Emphasising on legal and legislative gaps and importance of preventive regulations, the importance of this research is that, firstly, it indicates that indirect censorship is being largely overlooked and therefore, it is preferable for governments in order to avoid the shaming from human rights watchdogs; and secondly, the research could be used as a descriptive theoretical framework encouraging the legislative bodies to perceive the censorship as a constantly evolving process imposed by multiple actors and, therefore, it emphasises on necessity of new regulatory mechanisms that could keep pace with such transformations.