Ten years ago I joined the staff of the Committee to Protect Journalists to launch the Journalist Assistance program, an initiative, as CPJ board member Gene Roberts describes, developed to establish a standing direct response mechanism for journalists facing threats and attacks. When I left the position in 2009, many people asked me what case stood out the most.
In mid-2006, CPJ's Journalist Assistance program began sending regular remittances to the families of independent Cuban journalists in prison. By CPJ's count, of the 29 journalists jailed during a massive crackdown in 2003, 24 were still in prison at the time--making Cuba the world's second-worst jailer of journalists in the world. The remittances, sent monthly, helped families cover travel expenses to the prisons--sometimes two days away on shabby buses--and basic maintenance for the jailed editors and reporters--ranging from food staples like rice and beans, to clothes, bowls and spoons, to aspirin and specialized medications, all unavailable behind bars. At the time, I was the Research Associate for the Americas program, and my job was to contact families and catalog urgency and needs.
Dear President Humala: We congratulate you on your first week in office as president of Peru and would like to take this opportunity to urge you to sign into law a recent bill passed by Congress that eliminates prison terms for defamation, an important first step toward the decriminalization of libel in your country. At a time when archaic criminal defamation laws are being used by officials to punish critical reporters, we call on you to uphold your pledge to protect freedom of expression by signing this bill and promoting the necessary changes toward a complete decriminalization of libel, leaving redress for this offense to civil courts.
New York, August 3, 2011--The body of José Agustín Silvestre, a critical Dominican journalist who ran a magazine and hosted a television program, was found Tuesday morning shortly after he was seized by gunmen in the southeastern city of La Romana, according to local press reports.
In the port city of Veracruz, Mexico, reporters are fleeing for their lives or are in hiding, according to Notiver, the city's principal newspaper, and local reporters. This flight began on Wednesday after the decapitated body of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, a police beat reporter for Notiver for nearly three decades, was found near the building of Imagen, another local newspaper. Journalists in the city told CPJ that they assumed the murder was a general threat to reporters working for all news organizations. This follows the murders on June 20 of the city's most well-known columnist, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, his wife, Agustina, and their son, Misael. Both father and son worked at Notiver.
New York, July 26, 2011--The decapitated head and body of veteran reporter Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz was found early this morning, according to officials in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The journalist was abducted on Sunday by armed men as she left her house.
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