News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, December 2013
As 2013 draws to a close, CPJ looks back on the highlights of the year, when we stepped in and advocated for journalists and news outlets at risk around the world.
As 2013 draws to a close, CPJ looks back on the highlights of the year, when we stepped in and advocated for journalists and news outlets at risk around the world.
It is a sad end to 2013 for the global press freedom community.
With the sudden death of CPJ Mexico Representative Mike O'Connor, 67, on Sunday, Mexican journalists have lost one of their most formidable advocates. Mike will be remembered as someone who was on the forefront of the struggle for press freedom. His superb skills as an investigative journalist helped scores of reporters across the country during a period marred by violence and censorship.
The conflict in Syria, a spike in Iraqi bloodshed, and political violence in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed on the job in 2013. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
With its low budget décor and grainy images, EUTV has the look and feel of small-town community television. But the Web-based TV station that went live on November 18 has much larger ambitions: It intends to be the primary source for Venezuelans who covet independent television news.
New York, December 18, 2013--Argentine authorities should immediately release a journalist who has been detained for more than a week and accused of sedition, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of journalists murdered around the world are local reporters working in their own country, covering human rights, corruption, conflict and politics. In nine out of ten of these murders, no one is ever prosecuted.
On Monday, eight of the world's leading technology companies set aside their rivalries to issue a direct challenge to U.S. lawmakers: lead the world by example and fix America's broken surveillance state. Although the tech companies' statement sends a powerful message, notably absent from the letter's signatories is the appearance of a single telecommunications company, or telco.
The concept of network neutrality holds that all Internet traffic should be treated equal and that Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, should serve as free-flowing gateways for information rather than as filters. But in politically polarized Venezuela, neutrality is an increasingly rare commodity and now ISPs are feeling the heat.
Unidentified assailants threw an explosive device at the house of a Peruvian journalist at 2 a.m. on December 10, 2013, according to news reports.
New York, December 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to launch a full investigation into the murder on Saturday of a Honduran journalist, identify a motive, and bring those responsible to justice.
It is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a journalist. Nearly every month, the digital security landscape shifts--new surveillance concerns are unearthed and freshly drafted laws are introduced that seek to curb freedom of expression under the guise of national security.
Amid skyrocketing inflation and shortages of basic goods, Venezuelan authorities claim that an "economic war" is being waged against the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro. The government is striking back by forcing stores to discount prices, by arresting business owners accused of hoarding--and by targeting journalists trying to cover the grim economic news.
For all the people who have been working on the problem of impunity for so long, the announcement on November 26 that the Third Committee of the United Nation's General Assembly had passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, setting November 2 as the "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists," was welcome news.
As Alan Rusbridger appears Tuesday before the Home Affairs committee of the U.K. Parliament to give evidence regarding the Guardian's coverage of surveillance activities by the U.S. and U.K. governments, British journalists and analysts say that newspaper's legal troubles are worrying in large part because they come against the backdrop of increased regulation and scrutiny of the wider industry.
Carlos Miller is not one to back down. As the founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, a leading blog about free speech and press rights in the U.S., Miller has made it his mission to publicize examples of government overreach and the suppression of journalists' and other newsgatherers' rights. And although he frequently finds himself taking law enforcement officials to task through a combination of original reporting, analysis and activism, Miller never expected that his work would lead to a criminal charge punishable by a decade's imprisonment.
In December 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists and 27 partner organizations launched Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity as part of an international effort to seek justice for the hundreds of journalists who have been murdered around the world. Today, on International Day to End Impunity, we are taking a look back at what has happened over the last 12 months.
For more than a decade, courts and legislatures throughout Latin America have found that civil remedies provide adequate redress in cases of libel and slander. Over this period, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights -- an autonomous judicial institution, which is part of the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States (OAS) -- has issued key decisions supporting press freedom, including a 2004 landmark ruling that struck down a criminal defamation conviction of a Costa Rican journalist.
Before his staffers, under government duress, took power drills and angle grinders to destroy company Macbooks in the newspaper's basement, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger made sure to send Edward Snowden's leaked documents to New York newsrooms for safekeeping.
New York, November 7, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the repeal of criminal libel provisions by the Jamaican Parliament on Tuesday as a step forward in the campaign to eliminate criminal defamation in the Americas.
Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.
CPJ launches US report
Following CPJ's release of its report on the state of press freedom in the United States, the organization is pursuing high-level meetings with the White House. CPJ had drafted six recommendations that were shared with President Obama, including calling for a guarantee that journalists would not be at legal risk or prosecuted for receiving confidential and/or classified information.
CPJ continues to work toward securing a meeting with the Obama administration in order to discuss the report's findings.
"Given our 32-year history fighting for press freedom around the world, we believe CPJ can make an important contribution to the press freedom concerns and debate in the United States," CPJ Chairman Sandy Rowe wrote in a blog published the day after the report.
Two Peruvian journalists in the central Peruvian city of Ayacucho who had reported on alleged government corruption were convicted of criminal defamation, fined, and handed suspended jail sentences in two separate cases on October 21, 2013, according to news reports.
During his 14 years in power, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez tried to muzzle critical news organizations. Chávez died in March, but the pressure on Venezuela's remaining independent media outlets is only getting worse under his successor.
Glenn Greenwald would like to go home to the United States, at least for a visit. But the Guardian journalist and blogger is afraid to do so. He still has material and unpublished stories from his contacts with fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden that he believes U.S. authorities would love to get their hands on. The nine-hour detention and interrogation of Greenwald's Brazilian partner David Miranda by British security services at London's Heathrow airport in August has only compounded his fears.
One way for journalists to build more secure newsrooms and safer networks would be for more of them to learn and practice digital hygiene and information security. But that's not enough. We also need journalists to stand together across borders, not just as an industry, but as a community, against government surveillance.
The Obama administration, in its attempt to control government leaks, has issued subpoenas and conducted unprecedented surveillance of journalists, as CPJ documented in a report this week. But the United States is hardly the only democratic nation that has been trying to unveil reporters' sources and other professional secrets.
On Thursday CPJ launched its first comprehensive examination of press freedom conditions in the United States. The report, "The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America," highlights the growing threat to reporting on national security and similar sensitive government issues. It was written by Leonard Downie, Jr., the former executive editor of The Washington Post.
U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists. A CPJ special report by Leonard Downie Jr. with reporting by Sara Rafsky
CPJ is disturbed by the pattern of actions by the Obama administration that have chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including matters of national security. The administration's war on leaks to the press through the use of secret subpoenas against news organizations, its assertion through prosecution that leaking classified documents to the press is espionage or aiding the enemy, and its increased limitations on access to information that is in the public interest -- all thwart a free and open discussion necessary to a democracy.
The international media depend on the U.S. press to cover U.S. stories--and many of these, from the subprime mortgage crisis to NSA surveillance, are global stories because of their worldwide repercussions. But international journalists also rely on the U.S. press to report and comment on most world events. Therefore any restriction on U.S. journalists' freedom to report inevitably reverberates around the globe.
"Governments pass, but laws stay," said Uruguayan President José Mujica.
During a meeting with CPJ, and representatives from Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders at the president's executive office in Montevideo, the political capital, the former member of the leftist guerrilla group Tupamaros reflected on the upcoming congressional debate over new broadcast legislation. "It is our duty to ensure universal access to radio and television and contribute to freedom of information," Mujica added.
Egypt is going through a tough transition and journalists are paying a considerable toll. Since the July 3 removal of President Mohamed Morsi, at least five journalists have been killed, 30 assaulted, and 11 news outlets raided. CPJ has documented a total of 44 cases of detention, and at least five journalists remain behind bars. The attacks on the press come amid a broad campaign by the interim military-led government to limit coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood and force the media to toe the official line.
Border crossings have long posed a risk for journalists. In many nations, reporters and photographers alike have been subjected to questioning and having their electronic devices searched, if not also copied. But more recently, protecting electronically stored data has become a greater concern for journalists, including those who are U.S. citizens, upon entering or leaving the United States.
Bogotá, October 1, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Saturday's murder of a Colombian newspaper vendor who had collaborated with journalists on exposing misbehavior by guards at a local prison, and calls on authorities to investigate.
Upon receiving the news, Hinostroza told CPJ: "It will be an honor for me to receive this recognition, which will drive me to continue working for freedom of expression in my country and support the different processes that are being developed around the world to defend this right."
Peruvian journalist Humberto Espinoza Maguiña was convicted twice in two consecutive days in September 2013 on charges of defaming the governor of the northeastern state of Ancash, according to news reports. He received a two-year suspended prison sentence and was fined US$2,000 in damages.
Bogotá, September 16, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to launch a full investigation into the murder of a radio host on Wednesday. Édison Alberto Molina, a lawyer and politician who hosted a radio program that he used to denounce government corruption, was shot and killed in the town of Puerto Berrío, according to news reports.
Bolivia's loss of territory along the Pacific coast during a 19th-century war with Chile remains an extremely sensitive issue in the landlocked nation. Every March 23, patriotic "Day of the Sea" ceremonies mark the calamity, which Bolivia hopes to reverse through a lawsuit filed this year against Chile at the International Court of Justice.
Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.
Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.
A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reported this week that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into the internal communication system of Al-Jazeera. If the report is accurate, the targeted hacking of a news organization represents an assault on press freedom qualitatively different from -- and in many ways more disquieting than -- the perils posed by pervasive, but unfocused, surveillance.
New York, September 6, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by the decision of a Mexican judge to dismiss charges against Marco Arturo Quiñones Sánchez, one of the gunmen implicated in the 1997 assassination attempt against J. Jesús Blancornelas, founder and former editor of the Tijuana-based weekly magazine Zeta. The editors of Zeta told CPJ they were informed of the ruling on Thursday.
The flash or, more precisely, the lack of one, gave the policeman away.
Over a year ago, on a steamy Saturday night in the Bronx, New York City Police Officer Michael Ackermann claimed that a photojournalist had set off his flash repeatedly in the officer's face, blinding and distracting him, as he was arresting a teenage girl. So he arrested Robert Stolarik, a freelancer photographer for The New York Times, on charges of obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.
Tomorrow, a federal judge will weigh a prosecutor's motion for a gag order in connection with the U.S. government's prosecution of journalist Barrett Brown. The motion represents a troubling turn in an already-troubling case for press freedom--a case that could criminalize the routine journalistic practice of linking to documents publicly available on the Internet, which would seem to be protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution under current doctrine.
New York, September 1, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by a report by Der Spiegel saying the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) accessed Al Jazeera's internal communications. Citing documents from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA hacked into the network's internal communications system.
New York, August 28, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by cyber-attacks on several websites on Tuesday, including The New York Times, whose site was disabled for several hours. The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a group of hackers who support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, took credit for the attack via its Twitter account. The group also claimed to have attacked the websites of Twitter and The Huffington Post U.K.
New York, August 21, 2013--The 35-year prison sentence handed down today to Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on charges of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks could chill the work of journalists covering national security issues.
New York, August 20, 2013--Authorities in Guatemala should conduct a full investigation into the murder of a TV and radio journalist who was found on Monday after being reported missing for several hours, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez was killed seven days after another journalist was shot and wounded in the same state.
When Mick Deane was killed in Egypt on Wednesday, he became the 1,000th journalist documented by CPJ as having died in direct relation to his work. The photos above, a sampling of those who have died over the past 21 years, serve as a powerful reminder of the cost of critical, independent journalism.
New York, August 12, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling by a Venezuelan judge against two dailies last week that bans the publication of violent photographs and imposes hefty fines, according to news reports.
New York, August 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Tuesday's conviction for the 2010 murder of Brazilian radio journalist and blogger Francisco Gomes de Medeiros. João Francisco dos Santos was sentenced to 27 years in prison on charges of shooting and killing the journalist in the northeastern city of Caicó, according to news reports.
Organized crime capos and corrupt politicians have been getting away with murdering journalists in Mexico for so long that there isn't a reliable count on the number of the dead or a useful way to measure the crushing effects on a democracy when a country's press is afraid to tell the truth. CPJ research shows that, of 69 journalists killed since 1994 in Mexico, 28 were clearly killed because of their work, and nearly all of those directly targeted for murder. But the killing started years before that, the numbers are not dependable, and the motives are often unknown, because the professionalism of the investigations is doubtful. Mexico's state governments have simply failed to find those responsible, and journalists working outside of the capital have for the most part decided their only protection is to not cover stories the killers don't want covered.
Concern over government surveillance of journalists has washed up on the faraway shores of New Zealand, with a report in the country's Sunday Star this week asserting that the military there, with help from U.S. intelligence, spied on an investigative journalist who had been critical of its activities in Afghanistan.
New York, July 30, 2013--Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, whose leak of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks sparked a military court-martial that raised alarms about the chilling effect on the press, was convicted today on six counts of violating the Espionage Act, along with theft and other charges, but was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, according to news reports. The case has become emblematic of U.S. authorities' aggressive crackdown on leaks of secret information.
Unidentified assailants attacked a television host in the city of Puerto Cortés on July 17, 2013, according to news reports.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council discussion about the protection of journalists, Associated Press Executive Editor and CPJ Vice Chair Kathleen Carroll remembered the 31 AP journalists who have died reporting the news and whose names grace the Wall of Honor that visitors pass as they enter the agency's New York headquarters. Most were killed covering war, from the Battle of the Little Big Horn to Vietnam to Iraq. But around the world, Carroll noted, "most journalists who die today are not caught in some wartime crossfire, they are murdered just because of what they do. And those murders are rarely ever solved; the killers rarely ever punished."
Reporting from Catatumbo, a region in northern Colombia dominated by guerrillas and drug traffickers, has always been challenging. But working conditions for journalists have seriously deteriorated amid nearly two months of anti-government protests pitting thousands of angry peasant farmers against soldiers and riot police.
Much has been made recently about the digital surveillance of journalists--and rightly so--but physical surveillance remains a key tactic of security forces, law enforcement, and private entities. These operatives are monitoring journalists, gathering intelligence on them, and potentially obstructing journalists' work or putting them at risk.
Mexico City, July 18, 2013--Mexican authorities should conduct an open and thorough investigation into the murder of a crime reporter whose body was found on Wednesday in Oaxaca City, the capital of Oaxaca state, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Alberto López Bello had been badly beaten and shot, government officials told CPJ.
CPJ today joined an unprecedented coalition of leading Internet companies and civil liberty activists in the United States to press Washington to be more open about its massive and controversial surveillance programs.
New York, July 11, 2013--The body of Honduran radio journalist Aníbal Barrow was found on Tuesday on the riverbank of a lagoon near the city of San Pedro Sula, according to news reports. Barrow had been kidnapped from his car on June 24, the reports said.
"We are saddened by the death of journalist Aníbal Barrow and send our condolences to his friends, family, and colleagues," said CPJ Senior Program Coordinator for the Americas Carlos Lauría. "Lethal violence against the press and the endless cycle of impunity is compromising democracy in Honduras. Local authorities must thoroughly investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice."
A Colombian TV news director, who oversaw hard-hitting political coverage in central Antioquia department, resigned on June 28 after his editorial meeting was secretly recorded and used by politicians to push for his ouster.
Bogotá, July 9, 2013--Peruvian authorities should immediately investigate a bomb attack on the offices of Radio Tropicana in the town of Satipo on July 4, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. No one was hurt, but the station's offices were badly damaged, the station's manager told CPJ.
Like the death of a loved one.
That's how Juan Carlos Calderón, editor of the newsmagazine Vanguardia, described the June 28 closing of the newsweekly that for eight years published hard-hitting investigations about public officials and faced frequent government harassment. Yet the final days of Vanguardia were almost as controversial as its stories.
Let's be clear: Everything journalists do in the digital world is open to scrutiny by suspicious minds because that's the way intelligence agencies work. If state eavesdroppers didn't make use of this amazing opportunity they wouldn't be very good at their job.
From São Paulo to Istanbul to Cairo, coverage of street demonstrations has re-emerged as an exceptionally dangerous assignment for journalists. Since June 1, CPJ has documented more than 120 attacks on the press amid the civil unrest in Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt--the biggest surge of attacks in such circumstances since the uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011. My colleague Özgür Öğret described the danger in Turkish streets last week, and CPJ issued several alerts on assaults on the press in Brazil. The massive protests in Egypt have already resulted in more than three dozen anti-press attacks, including one fatality, and bring to mind the record-setting violence of two years ago.
Some of the Internet companies at the heart of the outcry over U.S. government surveillance today joined with human rights and press freedom groups, including CPJ, in calling for greater government disclosure of electronic communications monitoring.
New York, June 25, 2013--Authorities must do everything in their power to ensure the safe release of Honduran television journalist Aníbal Barrow, who was abducted on Monday, and to bring the kidnappers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Edward Snowden's global travels have highlighted the chasm between the political posturing and actual practices of governments when it comes to free expression. As is well known now, the former government contractor's leaks exposed the widespread phone and digital surveillance being conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency, practices at odds with the Obama administration's positioning of the United States as a global leader on Internet freedom and its calls for technology companies to resist foreign demands for censorship and surveillance.
New York, June 21, 2013--At least 25 journalists have reported being attacked or detained amid protests that have swept Brazil over the past two weeks, growing from discontent in São Paulo over public transportation fare hikes to wider nationwide demonstrations against government policies.
After inspecting a hydroelectric project in northern Ecuador last year, President Rafael Correa complained about the scant press coverage of his visit and suggested it was part of a media blackout. "Did the Ecuadoran media conspire to ignore this important event? It seems like that is the case," Correa told the crowd at a town hall meeting. "In this country, good news is not news."
Fifty-five journalists fled their homes in the past year with help from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most common reason to go into exile was the threat of violence, such as in Somalia and Syria, two of the most deadly countries in the world for the profession. Others fled the threat of prison, especially in Iran, where the government deepened its crackdown ahead of elections. A CPJ special report by Nicole Schilit
A fellow newspaper photographer phoned him and said he had to get right over to his parents' home because something very bad had happened. When Miguel Angel López remembers seeing when he got there was "just blood. You can't understand that much hatred." He was talking about the murders of his mother, his father--a senior editor at the state's most important newspaper--and his brother, a photographer at the paper. The killings turned out to be the beginning of a war on journalists.
I have always been convinced that journalism is an instrument that transforms people and realities. I believe in this profession as a means of change, even if this implies some risk. I've been beaten almost to death and at another time have had to move to another city because I went to the limit of my possibilities in search of the truth in which I believe. But nothing is sadder than the psychological terror imposed by an omniscient and omnipresent enemy. An invisible enemy that hides in anonymity and is able to take away the ability to live with one's family and freedom of movement.
New York, June 14, 2013--The new Communications Law approved today by the Ecuadoran National Assembly represents a severe blow to freedom of expression, said the Committee to Protect Journalists. The law establishes regulation of editorial content and gives authorities the power to impose arbitrary sanctions and censor the press.
New York, June 13, 2013--Brazilian authorities must identify the motive behind Tuesday's murder of a media executive, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Four masked men shot José Roberto Ornelas de Lemos at least 41 times while he was at a bakery in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, according to news reports.
New York, June 13, 2013--At least three Brazilian journalists were detained by military police while covering a protest on Tuesday, with one still in custody, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Brazilian authorities to allow journalists to be able to work freely without fear of harassment.
Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business.
Government surveillance of electronic communications "should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society," Frank La Rue, U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of expression, warned in a report issued less than two months ago. "States should be completely transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance techniques and powers." At the time, the report might have called to mind nations such as China and Iran with high levels of state surveillance. But today, following revelations of a broad, secret digital surveillance program led by the U.S. National Security Agency, La Rue's words seem instead to have been a prescient rebuke of U.S. policies.
Dear President Xi and President Obama,
You will both have received many public and private letters of advice prior to your meeting on Friday and Saturday in California. They will urge you to take up specific issues ranging from military and trade concerns to human rights. That diversity of concern is an indicator of how complex the relationships between your two countries are. They lend themselves to no easy solutions, and it is doubtful there will be immediate, radical change when you and your teams conclude the talks.
New York, June 5, 2013--A U.S. filmmaker jailed in Venezuela since April on trumped-up charges of espionage has been freed and deported from the country, news accounts reported today. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of Timothy Hallet Tracy, and calls on Venezuelan authorities to allow all journalists to work without interference.
Peruvian journalist Jorge Alberto Moncada Mino was attacked by unidentified assailants in the city of Chiclayo in the northern department of Lambayeque on May 24, according to news reports. Moncada, who reports for the daily El Ciclón de Chiclayo and Radio Caliente, was entering a store near his home to buy bread when two men got out of a vehicle and beat him with the butt of a gun and a wrench. The journalist was hospitalized with several bone fractures and wounds to his abdomen and head.
That didn't take long.
Nine days after the pro-opposition TV station Globovisión was sold to businessmen rumored to have close ties to the Venezuelan government, the station's new leader was welcomed to Miraflores Palace for a cordial sit-down with President Nicolás Maduro.
Bogotá, Colombia, May 28, 2013--An attack on a community radio station in central Bolivia constitutes a politically motivated attempt to censor its news coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today as it called on authorities to investigate and apprehend the attackers.
Next to the mayor's office in the northern Colombian town of Caucasia sits a monument to government dysfunction: a half-built public library with broken windows, a water-stained floor, and rusting reinforcement rods protruding from concrete pillars.
New York, May 23, 2013--Honduran authorities must conduct a full and thorough investigation into Monday's attack on two journalists in the northern town of La Ceiba, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
One day, every journalism school in the United States and beyond will offer a full three-credit, 15-week course in digital safety, along with more advanced classes. But that day has not yet come. Only a year ago, Alysia Santo reported in the Columbia Journalism Review that no American journalism school offered formal digital safety training. A number of groups, including CPJ, have tried to fill the void with digital security guides. This week, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University added to the resource stockpile with the publication of a guide that I've written, Digital Security Basics for Journalists.
With more than a billion users, Facebook is not only the biggest global social network but also an increasingly important forum for journalists. In some repressive countries it has even served as a publishing platform for journalists whose newspapers or news websites have been closed down. That is why journalists and bloggers should note today's news that after a year of standing on the threshold, Facebook has decided to step inside the Global Network Initiative tent.
Burmese President Thein Sein made a historic visit to the White House on May 19, the latest in a series of high-level symbolic exchanges between the two nations. While Thein Sein has been regularly commended by U.S. officials for his broad democratic reform program, President Barack Obama's praise this week overlooked a significant backtracking on promised media-related reforms.
Two journalists were shot and wounded during a shooting at a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans on May 12, 2013, that left 19 people injured, according to news reports.
New York, May 21, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports of a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter, which come a week after revelations that the government seized phone records of The Associated Press.
Forty-two years ago next month, The New York Times published the first of the Pentagon Papers, a trove of classified documents on U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, sparking a landmark legal case on press freedom.
When President Obama meets with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyp Erdoğan today, he needs to deliver the message that Turkey's failure to improve its record on press freedom is eroding the country's strategic relationship with the United States and sabotaging its regional leadership ambitions, CPJ's executive director, Joel Simon, and Reporters Without Borders' director general, Christophe Deloire, write in an opinion piece in Foreign Policy.
On June 3, when the long-anticipated court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning begins in Fort Meade, Md., journalists will crowd the courtroom. But at some point the press and the public likely will be ordered out while confidential testimony--including from State Department officials and active military personnel-- is heard. If the pre-trial proceedings are any indication, the press will also be denied access to written submissions deemed sensitive.
Bogotá, May 15, 2013--Colombian authorities must bring to justice all those responsible for an alleged plot to assassinate a journalist and two political analysts who had been investigating links between local politicians and organized crime, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
We received an unusual email last week. Michaella Ortega wrote to tell us that Marlon Recamata, who confessed to shooting her father, Philippine journalist Gerardo Ortega, in 2011, had been convicted and sentenced to life for the crime.
New York, May 14, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that the United States Justice Department seized two months of telephone records of journalists with The Associated Press.
The Durango state governor was on his way to meet with reporters. Before he arrived, the reporters huddled to decide the question of the moment. It seemed obvious: Why had a former mayor been arrested the day before in what clearly seemed to be a political move? "That was the only question," a reporter said later. "Did the governor have the ex-mayor arrested? Because, behind that move, you can feel a crackdown coming against the opposition." Yet, this reporter added, "It was too dangerous to ask. No one was brave enough."
Bogotá, Colombia, May 8, 2013--A shadowy group that claims to oppose land restitution efforts in Colombia has told eight journalists who cover the issue to leave the northern city of Valledupar or be killed, according to CPJ interviews and news reports.
One month after their colleague Rodrigo Neto was gunned down on the street after eating at a popular outdoor barbecue restaurant, the journalists of Vale do Aço, Brazil, were indignant. Denouncing a sluggish investigation and the possibility of police involvement in the murder, they strapped black bands to their wrists in a sign of solidarity, put on T-shirts bearing Neto's name, and took to the streets to demand justice. Six days later, Walgney Assis Carvalho, a photographer who claimed to have knowledge of the crime, was shot twice in the back by a masked assassin as he sat at a fish restaurant. The journalists of Vale do Aço are still indignant, but now they are terrified.
Gerardo Ortega's news and talk show on DWAR in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, went off as usual on the morning of January 24, 2011. Ortega, like many radio journalists in the Philippines, was outspoken about government corruption, particularly as it concerned local mining issues. His show over, Ortega left the studios and headed to a local clothing store to do some shopping. There, he was shot in the back of the head. His murder underlines the characteristics and security challenges common to many of the killings documented as part of CPJ's new Impunity Index: A well-known local journalist whose daily routines were easily tracked, Ortega had been followed and killed by a hired gunman. He had been threatened many times before in response to his tough political commentary, a pattern that shows up time and again on CPJ's Impunity Index.
New York, May 2, 2013--The Guatemalan news outlet elPeriódico has been targeted in a series of cyberattacks as it published stories alleging corruption in President Otto Pérez Molina's administration. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to investigate immediately and put an end to the harassment.
New York, May 2, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to fully investigate an attack against editor Ricardo Calderón, whose car was shot at by unidentified gunmen on Wednesday night in the town of Girardot. Calderón was unharmed.
In the past, donors and groups providing security to journalists in less-developed nations tended to export a Western, military-style of training designed for a war-time environment. But the danger of covering combat is one thing. Being fired upon by a motorcycle-riding assassin is another--as is being sexually molested in a crowd, discovering a video camera in one's bedroom, or having one's phone calls intercepted. And then there is emotional toll of losing dear colleagues, and wondering whether you or your family will be next.
He certainly looked guilty of something, and as if he'd finally been caught. With either his head down or with a kind of scared, dead-eyed stare, in a white jumpsuit, in front of the four Veracruz state police officers crowded behind him. They were all in black uniforms, with a strip of face and eyes showing through black masks, with four matte black assault rifles menacingly at the ready to guard a slim man in handcuffs. (Actually, had there been any gunfire, the police were so over-armed and so close together that it's likely one of them would have been the first victim.) Still, it all looked good for the cameras and reporters summoned to hear about the man's arrest and the end of a most doggedly troublesome case for state officials: the murder of Regina Martínez Pérez on April 28 last year.
New York, April 26, 2013--Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday arrested a U.S. citizen working on a documentary film in the country and accused him of instigating unrest.
Who can say exactly when the work of press freedom groups, human rights defenders, and budding networks of Mexican journalists became a movement? It would have been many murders, many funerals, many orphans ago. It would have been countless news events--about crime, corruption, violence--that went uncovered because reporters and news organizations concluded that the only way to survive was to stay silent. But finally, several years ago, the work of all these groups began to push the massacre of the Mexican press on to the national agenda. On Thursday, the movement led to a bill that gives the federal government jurisdiction over crimes against journalists. Today, the measure awaits only the president's approval.
Mexico City, April 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists joins journalists with the Mexican daily Vanguardia in calling on authorities to launch an efficient and thorough investigation into the murder of photographer Daniel Martínez Balzaldúa.
New York, April 25, 2013-The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the approval today of legislation that will implement a constitutional amendment that gives federal authorities in Mexico broader jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against freedom of expression.
"This is a legislative milestone and a step forward in the fight against the impunity that persists in crimes against the press," said CPJ senior Americas program coordinator, Carlos Lauría. "We urge President Enrique Peña Nieto to immediately sign these measures into law and then ensure that authorities effectively use this new tool to bring the killers of journalists to justice."
That is a bogus @ap tweet.-- AP CorpComm (@AP_CorpComm) April 23, 2013
More than a quarter million Twitter accounts have been hacked worldwide, the social media company disclosed in February, but Tuesday's attack on The Associated Press's verified account, @AP, had unusual effect. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points after someone hijacked the AP's account to falsely tweet that two explosions at the White House had wounded President Barack Obama. The market recovered, but the hacking--just the latest in a series of attacks on news organizations--sent shudders through a profession that's grown accustomed to breaking its news on Twitter.
Mexico City, April 22, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Mexican authorities to fully investigate the disappearance of journalist Sergio Landa Rosado in the state of Veracruz. Landa, who covers the crime beat for the local daily Diario Cardel, has been missing since January, according to news reports.
New York, April 22, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a death threat sent to the Mexico office of the international freedom of expression organization Article 19.
"Mexican authorities must launch an exhaustive investigation into this threat and bring those responsible to justice," said CPJ Senior Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "The authorities have a responsibility to ensure that journalists and defenders of press freedom can work without fear for their safety."
Two years ago this week, on the central boulevard of the Western Libyan city of Misurata, freelance photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed by mortar rounds from government forces. Hondros lost consciousness almost immediately. Hetherington bled out in the back of a pick-up truck as he clutched the hand of a Spanish photographer.
Mexico City, April 17, 2013--The national Mexican magazine Proceso reported Tuesday that it has learned of a plot by officials in the government of Veracruz to harm journalist Jorge Carrasco, who has reported extensively on the murder of the magazine's correspondent in that state. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to fully investigate the alleged threats and to ensure Carrasco's safety.
New York, April 15, 2013--Brazilian authorities must bring to justice the assailants involved in the murder of a crime photographer on Sunday night, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Walgney Assis Carvalho was a freelance photographer who contributed to the daily Vale do Aço in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.
As John Kerry visits China this weekend in his first trip there as U.S. secretary of state, he should take the opportunity to engage Chinese leaders on their problematic record regarding press freedom.
New York, April 10, 2013--Unidentified gunmen apparently fired upon a Honduran TV journalist whose work had included coverage of a sensitive land conflict, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to conduct a thorough and effective investigation that leads to arrests in the attack against journalist Fidelina Sandoval, who was unharmed.
New York, April 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of Cuban journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a reporter with the independent news agency Centro de Información Hablemos Press, who had been imprisoned since September while reporting on an international medical donation to Cuba.
The two websites at the University of Texas at Austin, at first blush, seemed to have been unlikely targets for attack. The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and its blog cover news about journalism, press freedom and journalist safety throughout the Western hemisphere, with an emphasis on trends in Latin America. The website of the International Symposium for Online Journalism provides information about meetings and other professional issues. Both websites were shut down for two weeks last month in a targeted cyber-attack.
As the world welcomes celebrated Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez on her first international tour in a decade, we must also remember journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, who continues to be confined not only to the island nation, but to a prison cell in Havana Province.
By reaffirming the autonomy and independence of the regional human rights system and rejecting attempts to neutralize the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression, the Organization of American States (OAS) chose last week to discard proposals that would have made citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to abuses.
The OAS extraordinary assembly, held at the organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Friday, adopted a resolution by which the 35 member states ratified the ability of the commission to continue receiving voluntary contributions. Analysts and human rights advocates say the decision was a blow to countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, known as ALBA, which have been pushing to preclude outside funding for the IACHR.
New York, March 19, 2013--During his trip to the region this week, U.S. President Barack Obama should call on Israeli authorities to return the equipment of an independent broadcaster that was seized more than a year ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
The U.S.-led war in Iraq claimed the lives of a record number of journalists and challenged some commonly held perceptions about the risks of covering conflict. Far more journalists, for example, were murdered in targeted killings in Iraq than died in combat-related circumstances. Here, on the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, is a look inside the data collected by CPJ.
If the proposed sale of Globovisión, the single remaining TV station critical of the Venezuelan government, is finalized next month, the broadcaster will almost certainly become less combative and could eventually turn into another government mouthpiece, according to news reports, local journalists, and analysts.
Having broken through one long-standing barrier, Yoani Sánchez, the pioneering figure in Cuba's independent blogosphere, is looking to smash another. "It seemed like an impossible dream, but here I am," Sánchez told a gathering today at CPJ's New York offices. After being denied travel authorization at least 20 times in the past, Sánchez is in the midst of her first trip abroad in a decade. And now, Sánchez said, she plans to launch a new publication upon her return to the island nation. Though the project is still in conception, she hopes the result will be modern and innovative in look and content, carrying everything from comprehensive sports coverage to critical opinion columns.
New York, March 12, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the prison sentence issued Friday to Yaco Martínez, director of the daily La Nación in the province of Carchi. Martínez was convicted of defaming a former governor with an article published in his newspaper, according to news reports.
For more than six years the Committee to Protect Journalists has been working with freedom of expression advocates, investors, and giant Internet companies to promote online freedoms. Absent from the discussions under the umbrella of the Global Network Initiative have been the telecommunications companies--vital gateways to the Internet for journalists and bloggers, particularly in much of the global South. Today things have changed.
Bogotá, Colombia, March 11, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to investigate an attack on a journalist who had denounced political corruption and the activities of leftist guerrilla groups in the region. Juan David Betancur received a letter bomb in the mail on Thursday that failed to explode and did not injure him, according to news reports.
New York, March 8, 2013--Brazilian authorities must immediately investigate today's murder of a journalist and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Twenty-one people have been arrested for a wave of crimes that included 11 murders (six of which were committed against police officers), the abduction for hours of five employees of El Siglo de Torreón newspaper, the murder of a mayoral candidate, and attempted murder of a current mayor in a large metropolitan area in central Mexico, according a senior federal official.
"Leave me in peace. Wallow in your garbage," Brazilian Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa said in a rage when a reporter with one of the leading national newspapers, O Estado de Sao Paulo, tried to ask him a question Tuesday at a meeting of the National Council of Justice in Brasilia, the capital. Stunned by Barbosa's reaction, the journalist demanded an explanation. "You are a clown," was the response he received from the president of Brazil's highest court.
Gunmen shot at the offices of the daily El Diario de Juárez and the television station Channel 44 in Ciudad Juárez early in the morning of March 6, 2013, according to news reports. The attacks resulted in slight material damage to the buildings, but no injuries.
New York, March 6, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Tuesday's attack on Carmen Andrea Rengifo, a correspondent for the Colombian TV station RCN, by crowds who had gathered in Caracas to mourn the death of President Hugo Chávez. CPJ calls on authorities to investigate the assault immediately.
Mexico City, March 5, 2013--Mexican authorities must identify the motive in the weekend murder of a news website editor in Chihuahua state and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, February 28, 2013--Cuban writer and blogger Ángel Santiesteban Prats is expected to begin serving a five-year jail sentence today on assault and trespassing charges brought by his former wife, accusations he has insisted have been fabricated.
At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals and paramilitaries. And at any given time, a small handful of these cases--sometimes one or two, sometimes more--have been purposely kept out of the news media. That is true today.
Bogota, Colombia, February 25, 2013--Authorities in Peru should immediately determine the motive behind the murder of a journalist on Saturday and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, February 25, 2013--A local radio reporter who often denounced crime on his show was shot dead on Friday in northern Brazil, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder and calls on Brazilian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
As the film "The Central Park Five" heads into the Film Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday, where it is nominated for best documentary, its filmmakers can rest assured that at least one contest, the one that was taking place far from Hollywood in a New York City courtroom, is over. In a case closely watched by the documentary film and journalism community, a New York district court judge on Tuesday quashed a subpoena seeking access to outtakes from the film, saying that the plaintiff had established entitlement to a reporter's privilege.
In the wake of President Rafael Correa's landslide re-election on Sunday, many Ecuadoran reporters are bracing for another four years of conflict with his left-leaning government. Neither side claims to relish the prospect, but continued clashes seem inevitable given the bad blood that has developed between them.
CPJ's Robert Mahoney identifies the 10 countries where press freedom suffered the most in 2012. They include Syria, the world's deadliest country for the press; Russia, where repressive laws took effect; Brazil, where journalist murders soared; and Ethiopia, where terror laws are used to silence the press. (3:26)
Reporters can't tell the public that organized crime has taken over a Mexican state. By Mike O'Connor
A system to defend free expression is under attack from foes and former allies. By Carlos Lauría
The murders of two bloggers mark a surge in deadly anti-press violence. By John Otis
The right to news and opinion is enshrined in international law. It's not enough. By Joel Simon
Governments exploit national security laws to punish critical journalists. By Monica Campbell
Your cellphone allows authorities to locate you and uncover your sources. By Danny O'Brien
Fresh from his re-election in October, President Hugo Chávez Frías sought treatment in Cuba for the recurrence of an unspecified form of cancer, leaving the nation's political landscape in doubt as 2012 came to a close. Chávez said during the campaign that he was free of the cancer that first struck in 2011, although details of his medical condition were shrouded in mystery. In the lead-up to the vote that saw Chávez fend off challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski, the administration continued its systematic campaign against critical news coverage through legislation, threats, and regulatory measures while using unlimited airtime via its state media empire. The election heightened an already polarized environment: Both pro-government and pro-opposition journalists were attacked while covering campaign events. Chávez's campaign against press freedom extended beyond the country's borders in 2012. Venezuela was part of a bloc of countries within the Organization of American States that worked to dismantle the region's system of human rights protection, including the special rapporteur for freedom of expression. The government also announced that it was withdrawing from the American Convention on Human Rights, the first step required in order to pull out from the OAS' two human rights bodies.
The Obama administration continued to clamp down on officials who leak sensitive information to the news media. A former CIA officer pleaded guilty to criminal charges of leaking a covert operative's identity, effectively ending a legal battle by three journalists fighting government subpoenas to testify in the case. The director of national intelligence announced new rules to clamp down on leaks, and the Senate debated a bill that would further impede officials from sharing intelligence information with the press. In issues related to access, a military judge rejected a request by several media outlets to broadcast the Guantánamo Bay trial of suspects accused in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. And a number of news organizations appealed a military judicial decision to seal documents related to the court-martial of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who faced charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. Reporter James Risen, author Ed Moloney, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns continued to fight subpoenas that would force them to turn over their unpublished reporting or testify in criminal investigations. Several journalists were arrested covering demonstrations linked to the Occupy movement.
Anti-press violence dipped slightly, but impunity persisted in past attacks. The prosecutor in charge of investigating the 2011 slaying of TV journalist Pedro Alfonso Flores Silva was murdered himself in April 2012, the same week he was to announce his findings. The following month, national police announced that Flores’ murder had been ordered by a local mayor in reprisal for the journalist’s reporting on government corruption, but the mayor was never formally charged in the case. Separately, the former mayor of the city of Coronel Portillo was acquitted in May in connection with the 2004 murder of radio journalist Alberto Rivera Fernandez. After condemnation by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Peruvian Supreme Court overturned its own decision to free Alberto Pinto, former head of the military’s intelligence service, who had been serving a 15-year sentence for the 1990s-era murders of civilians, including journalist Pedro Yauri. Pinto went into hiding in the face of an arrest warrant. Several assaults were reported. One journalist was beaten unconscious after reporting on local corruption. Journalists who covered violent protests against a mining project were attacked by police and demonstrators. No journalists were imprisoned in 2012, but two were given suspended prison sentences on criminal defamation charges. A bill that eliminated jail terms for defamation has been stalled in Congress since mid-2011.
As the military battled drug cartels--and the gangs clashed with one another--the press came under fire from criminals and corrupt officials seeking to control the flow of information. Journalists disappeared or were threatened or forced to flee in reprisal for their work, and several media outlets were attacked. Freelance journalist Adrían Silva Moreno was shot to death in Puebla shortly after the reporter had gathered information on a large-scale gasoline theft and then witnessed a stand-off between soldiers and gunmen. Five other journalists were murdered during the year; CPJ was investigating to determine whether the killings were work-related. After being repeatedly targeted, one daily published an editorial stating it would no longer report on cartel violence. In a sign of the public's dissatisfaction with President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa's bloody offensive against the cartels, the rival Institutional Revolutionary Party won back the presidency in an election that vaulted Enrique Peña Nieto to power. Calderón's administration did have a landmark press freedom achievement in its final year. After years of advocacy by CPJ and other press freedom groups, Congress and the states passed a Calderón-backed constitutional amendment federalizing crimes against freedom of expression, a key step in combating local-level corruption and impunity. Still, the legislation needed to implement the amendment had yet to be passed in late year. At least 14 journalists were killed in retaliation for their work during Calderón's presidency, which ran from December 2006 through December 2012, marking the tenure as one of the deadliest on record for the press anywhere in the world.
Journalists who report on sensitive issues such as drug trafficking, government corruption, and land conflicts face frequent threats and attacks in a nation so gripped by violence and lawlessness that it has become one of the most murderous places in the world. The abduction and murder of Ángel Alfredo Villatoro, one of the country’s best-known journalists and a friend of President Porfirio Lobo, made headlines for weeks and prompted nationwide demonstrations against anti-press violence. The authorities did not identify a motive but charged three people in the attack. Reflecting the deep polarization that followed the 2009 military-backed coup, attacks against reporters seen as supportive of the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, attracted far less attention and official action. CPJ research shows that the authorities have been slow and negligent in investigating numerous journalist murders and other anti-press crimes since the 2009 coup, even as they have tried to minimize the extent of the violence. Official negligence in the investigations—CPJ found that the authorities often failed to interview witnesses or collect evidence—has made it difficult to determine the motives in many of the cases. While the U.S. Senate said it would withhold some aid from Honduras due to alleged human rights violations by police, the State Department announced the creation of a Bilateral Human Rights Working Group to assist the Honduran government with investigations into journalist murders.
Journalists felt the effect of widespread gang-related violence. The staff of the online news site El Faro faced intimidation after reporting on a criminal network involving businessmen and politicians, and after revealing secret negotiations between the government and gangs. Unidentified individuals followed and photographed El Faro’s journalists, Editor Carlos Dada said. Minister of Security David Munguía Payés acknowledged that the outlet was at risk but initially declined to provide any protection. The case also exposed cracks in solidarity among the Salvadoran press as few journalists initially came to the defense of El Faro. Nationwide, murder rates appeared to drop after the government negotiated a gang truce, although some officials suggested disappearances were simultaneously on the rise. Despite pervasive societal violence, the country has not seen widespread killings of journalists. The authorities, who won a conviction in May in the 2011 murder of a cameraman, have a generally good record in combating deadly anti-press violence, CPJ research shows.
The press freedom climate continued its sharp decline under President Rafael Correa. Courts upheld defamation convictions against executives of the daily El Universo and authors of the book Big Brother in connection with their critical coverage of the Correa administration. The president, who initiated the complaints, later pardoned the journalists, but the rulings cast a chill on in-depth reporting. Correa granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a move that underlined his antipathy toward the United States and sought to counter his image as an opponent of free expression. U.N. member states made 24 recommendations on freedom of expression at the country’s Universal Periodic Review. The Ecuadoran government rejected three of the recommendations, including one that urged the repeal of laws that criminalize speech. The president also began a sustained attack on the Organization of American States’ special rapporteur for freedom of expression, a move that threatened to gut a vital defender of the regional press. An anti-press attitude was prevalent among all branches of Ecuadoran government. Legislators debated a bill that would allow a media regulatory body to impose arbitrary sanctions on the press and limit free speech. The telecommunications office closed at least 11 broadcasters, more than half of which were critical of the government. And a photographer was killed in direct retaliation for his reporting, the first confirmed journalist murder in Ecuador since 2005.
Though Cuba projected an image of a nation opening up economically and politically, it took no substantive steps to promote freedom of expression. The authorities announced plans to eliminate exit visa regulations that had long restricted Cuban travel, but skeptics expressed doubts about the government’s commitment to the reform. The prominent blogger Yoani Sánchez, has been denied exit visas at least 19 times, CPJ research shows. Venezuela, which financed a much-heralded Cuban fiber-optic cable project, said the installation was completed, but Havana gave no indication when the technology would be put into use. Internet penetration remained low, with existing public connections slow and expensive. Cuba placed ninth on CPJ’s global survey of most-censored countries, and the authorities continued to stifle dissent. After a one-year absence, the nation rejoined the ranks of countries imprisoning journalists. One independent journalist was jailed when CPJ conducted its annual worldwide survey. Though long-term detentions were more infrequent than in past years, human rights groups and news reports documented short-term detentions and harassment surrounding widely covered events, such as the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in March. The authorities detained Sánchez and two other bloggers while they were en route to cover a trial stemming from the vehicular death in July of Oswaldo Payá, a prominent dissident. Journalist and lawyer Yaremis Flores was detained for two days after reporting local criticism of the government's response to Hurricane Sandy in articles published on the Miami-based Cubanet. Two years after the Black Spring detainees were freed, many of the journalists faced severe economic challenges in exile. One, Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández, killed himself in April.
Journalists faced resurgent violence from illegal armed groups in the months before President Juan Manuel Santos’ government announced peace talks with the leftist guerrilla organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The group, also known as the FARC, held French reporter Roméo Langlois captive for more than a month, the first abduction of an international journalist in Colombia since 2003, according to CPJ research. Fernando Londoño, a radio talk show host and former high-ranking government official, was injured and his driver and bodyguard were killed in a targeted bombing in Bogotá. Police were also implicated in an instance of anti-press violence. In November, freelance journalist Guillermo Quiroz Delgado died after being arrested while covering a street protest in Sucre department. From his hospital bed, Quiroz said he had been assaulted by police officers. Decisions in several legal cases favored the press. Angered by criticism in an opinion piece, the seven justices of the Supreme Court’s criminal chamber filed an unprecedented criminal defamation complaint against columnist Cecilia Orozco Tascón—but dropped the case after widespread criticism. The chief prosecutor's office classified the 2000 kidnapping and sexual assault of journalist Jineth Bedoya as a crime against humanity and thus not subject to the statute of limitation. And two former officials of the national intelligence agency, or DAS, were sentenced to six years each in prison for an illegal espionage program that targeted critical journalists among others.
Brazil’s international profile remained on the rise, but its government consistently failed to show leadership on press freedom issues. Anti-press violence surged with four work-related fatalities; the country’s ranking also worsened on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are killed regularly and the authorities fail to solve the crimes. Along with India and Pakistan—two other countries that rank poorly on the Impunity Index—Brazil raised objections to a comprehensive UNESCO proposal to help nations combat impunity and protect journalists. In the face of heavy criticism, U.N. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti later expressed broad support for press freedom and elements of the UNESCO plan. But the government's commitment to free expression came into question in another important international matter. Brazil supported an Ecuadoran-led effort to weaken the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the human rights monitoring body of the Organization of American States, and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression. In December, investigative reporter and CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Mauri König fled Brazil after receiving death threats related to his coverage of police corruption. President Dilma Rousseff’s government did usher in two measures promoting the public’s right to know. Rousseff signed into law an access-to-information measure and created a commission to investigate human rights abuses committed during the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship.
Disputes between Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government and top media outlets intensified. Despite a Supreme Court ruling that ordered equitable distribution of state advertising, Kirchner’s government continued to withhold government ads from outlets critical of her administration, while lavishing business on those that provided favorable coverage, a CPJ special report found. Both the justice department and a federal appeals court fined the executive branch for ignoring the ruling, but the government showed no intention of complying. The administration also continued its practice of attacking and insulting journalists and executives associated with the country’s two principal media companies, Clarín and La Nación, sometimes using smear campaigns on public television shows. Those media groups, in turn, relentlessly criticized the government. The result was a highly polarized climate, with outlets devoting considerable coverage to discrediting one another, and citizens being deprived of objective sources of information on vital issues of public interest.
Analyses and data track press conditions throughout the region. Mike O'Connor describes cartel-imposed censorship in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. Carlos Lauría recounts how members of the Organization of American States failed to stand up for press freedom. And John Otis examines a spike in Brazilian murders targeting critical bloggers.
Worldwide tally reaches highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990. Governments use charges of terrorism, other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices. Turkey is the world's worst jailer. A CPJ special report
Who is allowed to talk? What are they allowed to say? Award winners seek the answers. By Kristin Jones
Editors think twice, reporters do not dig deeply, columnists choose words carefully. By Jean-Paul Marthoz
No amount of security training can make up for a lack of professional solidarity. By Frank Smyth
Police never bothered to look for cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda. It's not unusual. By María Salazar-Ferro
From conflict-ridden Syria to aspiring world leader Brazil, 10 nations on a downslope. By Karen Phillips
It's by far the dullest space in the newspaper: Every day in El Universo, Ecuador's leading daily, readers can find eight small photos and news blurbs summing up the activities of the eight presidential candidates. The articles are the same size and blocked together in a layout that resembles a tic-tac-toe game, minus the ninth square.
There is a popular expression in Cuba that is synonymous with difficulty and crisis. When you want to indicate that someone is doing badly economically, it is sufficient to say that he is "eating a cable." Street humor has identified the act of chewing and swallowing a bundle of wires with scarcity and material want. The parable has gained strength these days in reference to the fiber-optic cable installed between Cuba and Venezuela, which has yet to provide service to Cuban clients despite reports that it is finally functioning.
Not every media company is as tempting a target for hackers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal. Not every company can afford high-priced computer security consultants, either. Is there anything that everyday reporters and their editors can learn about protecting themselves, based on the revelatory details the Times and other targets made public last week?
On September 11, 2012, the Ecuadoran government interrupted a morning newscast on the Teleamazonas TV station for an official bulletin. What could be so urgent? A coup d'etat? An earthquake? A cholera outbreak?
It turned out the government sought to clarify what President Rafael Correa had for breakfast.
Bogotá, February 1, 2013--Authorities in Colombia should ensure the safety of two journalists who have fled the northern city of Montería after being threatened for their reporting on criminal groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
The New York Times reported Thursday that, after four months, it has expelled what it believes to be China-based hackers from its computer system and has, so far, kept them from breaking back in. The paper said a group had been "infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees." The paper linked the attacks to a Times investigation, published in October, finding that the relatives of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao "had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings."
New York, January 31, 2013--Appellate courts in Brazil should overturn a decision ordering journalist Lúcio Flavio Pinto to pay more than $200,000 in damages in connection with a libel suit, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The journalist, who was initially found liable in late 2012, lost an appeal in a ruling publicized on January 23.
One result of President Rafael Correa's high-profile campaign to demonize the country's private media can be seen on the desk of José Velásquez, news manager at Teleamazonas, a private Quito television station often critical of the government. Among the documents piled high on his desk are lawsuits, which used to be a rare thing. Encouraged by Correa, who has personally sued newspapers and journalists, Velásquez says, the subjects of Teleamazonas news reports are now filing between two and five lawsuits per month against the station.
When the story is so important but the risks are so high, journalists must keep safety at the forefront of their thinking. That's especially true for freelancers who often do not have the support of a large news organization. Preparation, peer networking, and smart planning can help improve the odds of not only surviving hostile situations but succeeding in one's work.
As pundits debate how Barack Obama will tackle guns, climate change, immigration, and the debt ceiling in his newly inaugurated second term, press freedom advocates are left questioning how the U.S. president will handle another, no-less-controversial issue: the treatment of whistleblowers and officials who leak information to the media.
What is the humanitarian function of journalism in wartime? How does international humanitarian law protect journalists? Why is impunity the most important challenge facing journalists working in conflict zones?
Two unidentified men shot Renato Machado Gonçalves as he was returning home with his family at night on January 8, 2013, in the city of São João da Barra, in northern Rio de Janeiro state, according to news reports. Machado's six-year-old niece was also injured in the attack, the reports said. Machado died later at a local hospital, news reports said.
Bogotá, January 10, 2013--Venezuelan authorities announced late Wednesday that they had launched an investigation against a private TV station that had aired reports questioning the legality of postponing the inauguration of President Hugo Chávez. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government to immediately drop this politicized investigation and to end its persistent harassment of Globovisión, the country's only TV station critical of the government.
I remember sitting with a Yahoo employee in 2009, talking about the lack of protective encryption on Yahoo's Web mail accounts. Like many, the employee had been caught up in the news of how Iranians were using the Internet to document and protest the presidential elections in that country, and had grown worried about the possibility of governments intercepting Yahoo customer's emails without due process. As an immigrant from a repressive regime, he told me, he was aware of how much danger this posed. He said he was going to raise the topic internally.
New York, January 7, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns continued harassment and threats against staff of The Journal News after the New York state-based daily published an interactive map that identified local gun permit holders. CPJ calls on authorities to investigate the matter thoroughly and take all appropriate law enforcement action.
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