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Asia

2012

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April 6, 2012

Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
Prime Minister of Nepal
The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
Singhadurbar

By facsimile: + 977 1 4211 086

Dear Prime Minister:

The International Fact Finding and Advocacy Media Mission to Nepal that met with you in February has finished its review of specific provisions from the country's draft constitution that the Constituent Assembly will finalize by May 28. As one of the groups on the mission, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges you to encourage the assembly to incorporate the group's recommended changes before the constitution is finalized. The review and recommendations pertain to freedom of expression, the right to information, and freedom of the press.

In a 2011 analysis on Nepal, CPJ noted that political in-fighting has encouraged anti-media attacks, and that a failure to address violence against journalists both before and after the 2006 peace accord has established a deeply entrenched culture of impunity in the country. On the mission, we were encouraged by our interactions with representatives of Nepal's vibrant press, and by your own express wish to ensure that the constitution holds the strongest possible protections for journalists' rights.

We also welcome the explicit guarantees of media freedom already included in Article 4 of the draft constitution. However, in its current form, the draft allows potential legal restrictions on the mass media, including censorship of expressions deemed to be treasonous, according to the mission's review of the draft. CPJ believes these grounds are vague and open to abuse, and we support the mission's recommendation that the constitution be amended to ban all kinds of censorship. "International law regards any form of prior censorship with the greatest suspicion," the mission's review noted (original emphasis).

We urge you, along with party leaders and members of the Constituent Assembly, to comply with the mission's suggestions for revising these provisions, and thereby strengthen the guarantee of media freedom in accordance with international standards. We further support the mission's recommendations on freedom of expression and the right to information and believe that adopting all of these changes will create a more transparent environment for the media as well as for Nepal's fledgling democracy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Joel Simon
Executive Director

New York, April 4, 2012--Police in eastern Nepal must fully investigate Tuesday night's murder of a TV and newspaper reporter and determine whether the motive was related to his journalism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

Given that it is usually punishable by death, "treason" is a dangerous word to bandy about. When it is applied to journalists, it is even more worrisome. We've seen that in Sri Lanka, which is in the throes of a backlash against a U.N. resolution on past human rights abuses. (See "Amid Sri Lankan denial, threats rise for journalists.") Photographs of journalists who have been critical of Colombo, their faces barely obscured, have been shown on television; one broadcast even repeatedly used the picture of a journalist's daughter, according to the Network for Rights media support group. 

Authorities have suspended the comments feature on the Chinese microblog site Weibo, seen here, as a punishment for 'allowing rumors to spread.' (AFP/Mark Ralston)

New York, April 2, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by Chinese authorities' recent clampdown on the Internet after rumors circulated about politician Bo Xilai's dismissal from the Communist Party leadership in Chongqing. In recent days, authorities have shut down several microblog sites and detained and targeted Internet users.

Amid the rush to see changes in Burma as an inexorable move toward full democracy--Aung San Suu Kyi's electoral victory over the weekend is certainly cause for hope--CPJ has maintained a healthy skepticism about media reform in Burma. Shawn Crispin's "In Burma, press freedom remains an illusion," posted on Friday, is the most recent example of our thinking on the subject.  

On March 29, 2012, Tran Thi Thuy Lieu was convicted of the murder of her husband, journalist Le Hoang Hung, after a one-day trial in southern Long An province. Hung died January 30, 2011, after he was set ablaze while sleeping in his home in Tan An, news reports said. Reports said Lieu, who had suffered gambling losses, was motivated by her husband's refusal to sell their home.

Reports are now emerging that a journalist was jailed in 2010 for criticizing the policies of Bo Xilai, above. (AFP)

New York, March 30, 2012--Authorities in Chongqing must clarify the status of a journalist who reports say was secretly sentenced to prison in 2010 for criticizing a government official in a personal blog, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ has not been able to independently confirm the journalist's jail sentence or his whereabouts.

Supporters of Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party travel to a rally at a Yangon constituency on Friday. (AFP/Soe Than Win)

Just ahead of this weekend's highly anticipated Burma by-elections, opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi today denounced the vote as not "free and fair." Indeed, Thein Sein government's harassment of opposition media in the run-up to the polls raises disturbing questions about the country's reputed new democratic direction after decades of repressive military rule. 

The confessed mastermind of the murder of crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey, whose June 2011 funeral is shown here, remains free. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

New Delhi-based Tehelka weekly news magazine has published a scathing indictment of the police investigation into the 2011 killing of Mumbai crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey--and of the Indian media's coverage of it. Beneath the allegations and the rumors, we still don't know exactly why he was killed, while the self-confessed mastermind is a fugitive from justice. Meanwhile, a second journalist has been indicted for the crime on apparently flimsy evidence.  

Journalist Gerardo Ortega's wife looks at his picture. (AFP/Noel Celis)

The investigation into the notorious murder of muckraking Philippine journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat in Mindanao is now seven years old. A separate hunt for conspirators in the January 2011 killing of Palawan radio journalist Gerardo Ortega is just getting started. The Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa City issued arrest warrants against three suspects in the Ortega case on Tuesday, and one has been arrested, according to the local Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. But both cases should already have been solved. 

2012

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