New York, May 17, 2013--Pakistani authorities should dismiss separate complaints filed against newspapers and journalists in Baluchistan for publishing statements made by banned militant groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, May 17, 2013--Pakistani authorities should dismiss separate complaints filed against newspapers and journalists in Baluchistan for publishing statements made by banned militant groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, May 16, 2013--Judicial authorities in Nepal should stop targeting outlets of the Kathmandu-based Kantipur Publications and dismiss a case filed against the organization and one of its journalists that accuses them of contempt of court, 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.
Twenty-four-year-old Bai Lu was just four days into her new job as a journalist at the Urumqi Evening Post when she was killed. She and her colleague, Chen Aiying, were struck by a bulldozer while reporting at a major construction project on April 18 in the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang province. Chen was seriously injured.
To head off rising tensions between supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and cartoonist Somchai Katanyutanan, who faces possible criminal defamation charges for critical comments he posted on his personal Facebook page, Thailand's government has to make sure police fully investigate this weekend's attack on Thai Rath, the country's largest circulation daily newspaper. The government's public sensitivity to expression such as Somchai's has spurred recent political violence in Thailand, including threats against journalists.
New York, May 10, 2013 - The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Pakistan's interim government to reverse its decision to expel New York Times bureau chief Declan Walsh from the country. The order comes on the eve of national elections that will bring about the first successful change of civilian government in Pakistan's history.
New York, May 8, 2013--A man who said he was paid the equivalent of US$250 to kill Philippine radio journalist Gerardo Ortega, left, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2011 murder, according to news reports and the victim's family. The Committee to Protect Journalists today joined with Ortega family in calling for the arrests of the suspected masterminds.
New York, May 8, 2012--The safety of journalists covering political turmoil in Bangladesh must be respected by all parties, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after at least 11 journalists were reported injured while covering demonstrations by Islamists earlier this week in Dhaka.
Bangkok, May 3, 2013--Malaysian online news sites say access to their websites is being disrupted in the run-up to the general elections scheduled for Sunday.
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.
Almost two months have passed since President Xi Jinping took office. Despite expectations for greater transparency, Beijing continues to try to suppress information on a broad range of issues from human rights to public health.
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.
New York, April 29, 2013--Part-time reporter Jitendra Singh was killed Saturday in Khunti district, Jharkhand state, according to news reports. Members of the People's Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a breakaway Maoist faction, claimed responsibility, but the motive is unclear. Singh also ran a construction business.
Bangkok, April 26, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the decision by Thailand's Ministry of Culture to reverse its earlier imposed ban on the locally produced documentary Fah Tam Pan Din Soon (Boundary).
"The ministry's reversal of its censorship order against director Nontawat Numbchapol's documentary is a step in the right direction," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. "We would encourage government authorities to reconsider their banning of various other politically-oriented films, books and websites currently censored."
At least five journalists reported being attacked on April 13, 2013, while covering alleged extortion by students at Dhaka University in the capital. News accounts said the students had been extorting money from drivers of vehicles in the surrounding area, but did not offer further details.
A British journalist trying to cover the Delhi gang rape trial was asked to leave the courtroom on Tuesday after the prosecution objected to the presence of the international press. Andrew Buncombe, a correspondent for The Independent of London, was ejected from a court in the Indian capital even though a wide-ranging order restricting press coverage had been lifted last month.
Bangkok, April 25, 2013--Thailand's Ministry of Culture has banned the locally produced documentary Fah Tam Pan Din Soon (Boundary) on grounds that it could "mislead and disrupt public order," according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the censorship order and calls on ministry officials to reverse the arbitrary decision.
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.
New York, April 22, 2013--Authorities in the Philippines should thoroughly investigate today's murder of a radio journalist, identify the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mario Vendiola Baylosis was killed by two unidentified gunmen in the town of Kabasalan in the southern province of Zamboanga Sibugay, according to news reports.
As political turmoil continues between Islamists and secularists in Bangladesh, the climate for press freedom is rapidly deteriorating. The tensions stem from an ongoing war crimes tribunal tasked with prosecuting genocide, crimes against humanity, and other crimes dating back to the 1971 war of independence.
You have to wonder how this will be enforced, but China's State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television has issued a "Notice on Strengthening Control of Media Personnel's Online Activities" (关于加强新闻采编人员网络活动管理的通知). Chinese media organizations have been told to stop posting foreign media news without government permission: "Without authorization, no kind of media outlets shall arbitrarily use media release from overseas media agencies and media websites," is the way Caijing magazine translated it.
There is good news from Strasbourg that follows up on my entry from earlier this week, "European Parliament has chance to take on Vietnam." Today, the European Parliament did exactly that when they unanimously adopted an Urgent Resolution on Vietnam. It was a wide-ranging document, but a large part was devoted the freedom of expression issues that are central to CPJ's concerns. In Article 7, the European Parliament:
Considering the worst-case scenarios for post-2014 Afghanistan, international news agencies should start planning a range of assistance responses for locally hired journalists and media staff. By the end of 2014, NATO troops will have largely withdrawn and the Karzai government will make way for a new administration. If the situation becomes chaotic, Afghans working for foreign and local media could become targets for retribution for their work as journalists.
New York, April 16, 2013--At least one journalist was killed and two were injured in a suicide bomb attack during a political rally today in Pakistan's northwestern provincial capital of Peshawar, according to news reports.
New York, April 16, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the official harassment of a pro-opposition daily in Dhaka and calls on all parties to ensure a free and vibrant press is allowed to function amid ongoing political turmoil.
New York, April 15, 2013--Sri Lankan authorities must immediately investigate an attack on the offices of a Tamil-language newspaper and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The offices of Uthayan have been attacked twice in two weeks.
On Thursday, April 18, the European Parliament will discuss Vietnam's human rights in a plenary session. At the top of the agenda will be freedom of expression. Over the weekend, CPJ's Brussels-based Senior Adviser Jean-Paul Marthoz blogged about the issues the parliament must confront in Le Soir.
New York, April 12, 2013--Amid growing political conflict that threatens even more violence in Bangladesh, an editor of a pro-opposition newspaper in Dhaka has been arrested on accusations of inciting religious tension, according to news reports. The editor faces earlier charges of sedition as well, the reports said.
A short note to follow up on an alert we posted Wednesday on the threatened deportation of Lohini Rathimohan (also spelled Lokini), a former television journalist and one of 19 Tamil refugees facing deportation from the United Arab Emirates. Earlier reports said the refugees, who reached Dubai illegally, could be deported this week.
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.
Umar Cheema, a CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner in 2011, was a strong runner-up for this year's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, awarded for the last 10 years by the Asia Society in New York. Umar's report, Representation Without Taxation, analyzed the tax returns of Pakistani members of parliament for 2011.
New York, April 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by news reports that a Tamil journalist in the United Arab Emirates may be deported to Sri Lanka this week despite her United Nations refugee status, and calls on authorities in the UAE to halt any such deportation measures.
Several journalists were attacked in an altercation with doctors and medical interns outside the Agartala Government Medical College in the state of Tripura on April 5, 2013, according to news reports. The journalists had arrived on the scene to cover allegations by family members of a patient who the relatives said had died of improper treatment, the reports said.
This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of Islamists took to the streets in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, demanding death for bloggers whose work they see as blasphemous. The demonstrations highlight the deteriorating climate for journalists, both those whose work is the target of the protests and those who have tried to cover the events. Several journalists were assaulted while covering the day-long demonstrations, including reporter Nadia Sharmin of the private broadcaster Ekushey Television. She was assaulted by a group of 50 to 60 Islamists who threw her to the ground, beat her, and told her that reporting was an unfit profession for a woman, news reports said.
New York, April 8, 2013--Pierre Borghi, a French photographer who was abducted in Kabul more than four months ago, has escaped his captors, according to news reports citing the Afghan government. Borghi's disappearance had not been made public in 2012 at the request of the French authorities who were trying to secure the journalist's release.
New York, April 8, 2013--Pakistani authorities should immediately investigate an attack on the Karachi bureau of the Urdu-language Daily Tawar and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Three days into his retirement, Zeng Li (曾礼) died yesterday at age 61, apparently of intestinal bleeding. Surprisingly, his March 28 farewell letter has spread across China's social media sites and blogs. The letter is an apology, an explanation of sorts, and an admission of regret regarding the latter part of his career. Zeng served in Southern Weekly's internal censorship program--his title there most likely translates best as "news examiner."
New York, April 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the recent arrests of four Bangladeshi bloggers in Dhaka in connection with their Internet posts that police said hurt the religious beliefs of people.
Six masked assailants on April 3, 2013, attacked the offices of a Tamil-language newspaper in the town of Kilinochchi in the Northern Province, injuring several employees and damaging equipment, according to news reports.
New York, April 2, 2013--An editor for an influential Chinese Communist Party journal said Monday he was suspended after his column appeared in a British publication calling on China to re-evaluate its relations with North Korea, according to news reports.
Anyone who has been to India or is familiar with the country knows how chaotic it can be: from the congestion on the streets of Delhi to the messy way in which democracy functions. And for journalists, covering the chaos of India can be risky business. This week alone, Indian law enforcement officials assaulted two journalists covering demonstrations in different corners of the country.
New York, March 28, 2013--Pakistani authorities should determine the whereabouts of a Baluch journalist living in Karachi who was last seen on March 24, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Sun Media reported that one of its journalists was briefly detained by police for photographing a government building in Malé, the capital, on March 26, 2013. The media group is based in the Maldives and covers local and world news for online, print, and radio.
New York, March 26, 2013--The BBC announced today that it has suspended all radio broadcasts in Sri Lanka following what it called "continued interruption and interference" by a national broadcaster in the country.
In a welcome move, Indian media will finally be allowed to cover court proceedings in the rape case that shook India's conscience. On Friday, the Delhi High Court lifted a gag order on media covering the ongoing trial of those accused of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in December.
Bangkok, March 25, 2013--Violent mobs have threatened journalists covering communal riots in central Burma and destroyed their reporting materials, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to make the security of journalists working in the violence-hit area a top priority.
New York, March 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release on bail of Naveen Soorinje, a television reporter jailed for more than four months after documenting a large-scale assault on a group of young women in Karnataka state. CPJ considers the pending criminal charges to be baseless and retaliatory, and calls on authorities to drop them immediately.
New York, March 18, 2013--Pakistani authorities announced today that they have apprehended a militant who was allegedly involved in the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi, according to news reports.
"As with every journalist murder, any and all perpetrators in the slaying of Daniel Pearl must be prosecuted and punished," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "In order to curb growing impunity in Pakistan, it is imperative that authorities send the strongest possible signal that acts of anti-press violence will not go unpunished."
Representatives from 40 Pakistani and international press groups, development organizations, and media houses came together in Islamabad last week to discuss ways to better protect local journalists at risk of violence, and means to combat the virtually perfect record of impunity that assailants enjoy in this country. It's none too soon. Three journalists have died already in Pakistan this year, and more than 40 have been killed over the past decade. About two dozen have been targeted for murder. On the eve of the March 6-7 conference, members of an ARY Television news crew were shot and beaten by thugs in Hyderabad. The attack attests to the dangerous situation in Pakistan where journalists routinely face threats from an array of sources; where reporters working on dangerous beats have little protection; and where law enforcement response to anti-press attacks is nearly nonexistent.
New York, March 14, 2013--Mam Sonando, a leading independent journalist in Cambodia, is scheduled to be released from prison later this week after an appeals court reduced his 2012 conviction on inciting rebellion to a lesser charge and cut his initial 20-year jail term.
New York, March 13, 2013--Authorities in Bangladesh must immediately investigate attacks on a journalist's car and a local press club that occurred within a day of each other, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The attacks took place amid massive politicized strikes and demonstrations that have swept the country.
New York, March 13, 2013--A journalist and his family were attacked with acid Tuesday in India's western state of Maharashtra, allegedly in connection with his reporting on illegal tobacco sales, according to local media.
As Xi Jinping takes office as president of China, the citizenry he governs is more sophisticated and interconnected than any before, largely because of the Internet. A complex digital censorship system--combined with a more traditional approach to media control, such as jailing journalists--keeps free expression in check. Repressive regimes worldwide look to China as a model, but Beijing's system of control is increasingly endangered. A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists
Journalist Liu Jianfeng worked in China’s state-controlled media for nearly two decades. Eventually, frustration with the system and pressure from his colleagues prompted him to quit. He continues to report on public issues such as land grabs, and hopes to find a new model for investigative journalism in China. Jonah Kessel reports. (11:10)
Read our accompanying special report, “Challenged in China,” on the shifting dynamics of censorship and media control.
By David Schlesinger
There is nothing like reading a report on China and the media to highlight the mass of contradictions that is the country today.
By Sophie Beach
On March 24, 2012, investigative journalist Yang Haipeng posted on his Sina Weibo microblog a story he had heard that alleged a link between Neil Heywood, an English businessman who had been found dead in a Chongqing hotel, and Bo Xilai, the powerful Chongqing Communist Party chief. His post is widely recognized as the first significant public mention of a connection between the two men and it spread like wildfire online before being deleted the next day. A month later, Yang’s Sina Weibo account, which had 247,000 followers, was shut down.
By Madeline Earp
Even as China’s virtual landscape buzzes with criticism of social injustices, government policy, and propaganda directives, independent journalism and expression are still perceived by the Communist Party as explicit political threats. Authorities also exploit vague legal language to prosecute dissenters based on published content, or bypass due process altogether, holding critics without charge or without notifying family members.
By Danny O’Brien and Madeline Earp
As the founding editor, in 2005, of the Liberian online investigative news site FrontPage Africa, Rodney Sieh has fought off lawsuits, imprisonment, and death threats. In the face of such pressures, he has still managed to expand the website into one of Liberia’s best-selling daily newspapers, making him a leading figure in both new and traditional news media in the country. It’s not surprising then, that he was one of 17 prominent African journalists and publishers invited by the Chinese government to a three-week “News and Publishing Seminar in Developing Countries” last August in Beijing.
CPJ offers the following recommendations to Chinese authorities and the international community.
Over the past 10 years, China’s media environment has been transformed by the explosion of the Internet and, since 2010, the phenomenon of weibo, or microblogs, which now have more than 309 million users. Click through the slideshow to see how Internet use has evolved.
China consistently imprisons dozens of journalists, usually under anti-state laws. The makeup of the prisoners has evolved with the rise of the Internet and as ethnic minorities are increasingly targeted amid unrest in prominently Tibetan and Uighur regions. Below, click on years and categories to see the journalists jailed from 2002-2012 and to group them by media, ethnicity, and charges.
Chinese censors worked overtime to squelch reports of the downfall of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife on murder charges. But savvy journalists and Internet users stayed with the story and soon it commanded international headlines. Click through the timeline to see how a tightly censored story still made news in China.
New York, March 11, 2013--Authorities in the Philippines should bring to justice the perpetrators responsible for a March 6 attack on a freelance journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Hong Kong, March 11, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Friday's attack in Beijing on two Hong Kong journalists outside the home of Liu Xia, the wife of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Today marks International Women's Day. Hashtags like #IWD and #InternationalWomensDay have been trending on Twitter. Among the twitterati who voiced their support for women's rights was Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He tweeted:
PM: Let me reiterate in this House the commitment of our govt. to ensuring the dignity, safety and security of every woman of this country.-- Dr Manmohan Singh (@PMOIndia) March 6, 2013
Veteran investigative journalist Wang Keqin left his job at a prominent Chinese newspaper on February 25, 2013. An Agence France-Presse report citing two journalists who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal said that Wang was pressured into leaving by management at the Economic Observer.
Owais Toheed, head of ARY News, cancelled his speaking slot for Wednesday at the conference I'm attending in Islamabad. Organized by UNESCO, the Open Society Foundations, Intermedia, and International Media Support, the meeting's title says it all: International Conference on Safety and Security of Journalists in Pakistan. The reason Toheed couldn't attend is because he was tearing toward Hyderabad, where one of ARY's investigative camera crews was attacked earlier today.
New York, March 5, 2013--The Sri Lankan Defense Ministry says it wants to identify sources who provided information to the UK-based broadcaster Channel 4 for a new documentary alleging that government forces committed war crimes during the country's long civil conflict, The Divaina, a Sinhala-language daily, reported today. In response, the producer issued a statement saying that no "resident anywhere in Sri Lanka helped us with this film."
New York, March 5, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on Saturday against a pregnant journalist covering a land dispute in East Kalimantan province, Indonesia. CPJ calls on authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation that leads to the apprehension of all those who participated in the brutal assault, which the journalist said had led to a miscarriage.
New York, March 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Chinese authorities to bring criminal charges against assailants who attacked a German TV crew in the city of Sanhe, approximately 30 miles east of Beijing.
March 1, 2013, New York--Pakistani authorities should investigate today's murder of a journalist in the country's restive Baluchistan province, determine the motive, and apprehend the perpetrators immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Bangkok, March 1, 2013--Draft legislation designed to govern the media in Burma threatens to reverse fragile press freedom gains recently achieved under President Thein Sein's democratic reform program, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
News accounts reported that several journalists were injured in February 2013 protests that swept the country following a prison term handed to a senior leader of an Islamist opposition party.
Police arrested Muthi-Ur-Rahman Siddiqui on August 29, 2012, and accused him of being involved in a terror plot to kill Hindu nationalist leaders and journalists in Bangalore, in the southern state of Karnataka. Siddiqui worked as a reporter for the Deccan Herald and covered higher education.
New York, February 27, 2013--Pakistani authorities should immediately launch an investigation into the targeted murder of a veteran journalist who was shot dead today in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Malik Mumtaz had worked for several mainstream news outlets and had recently been elected president of the regional press club, news reports said.
Confusion surrounds the case of imprisoned Indian journalist Naveen Soorinje, who was jailed for exposing an attack on young men and women last summer by extremists belonging to the Hindu Jagran Vedike, self-appointed moral police in coastal Karnataka. Soorinje's report helped lead to the arrest of dozens of attackers. But Karnataka state--ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)--has grouped him with the very attackers he exposed. Soorinje's continued imprisonment warrants a look at the larger picture in coastal Karnataka.
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.
New York, February 25, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the recent string of attacks against journalists in the Maldives and calls on all sides in the political conflict to halt violence against the media.
On February 13, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said in her annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that Sri Lanka's government has not taken enough steps recommended by its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Although the LLRC is seen as a flawed attempt to heal Sri Lanka after decades of fratricidal conflict, last year the Human Rights Council adopted a U.S. motion calling on the government to act on the LLRC's recommendations. President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government ignored the resolution, but the Americans say they will make a similar motion at this year's meeting of the 22nd session of the UNHRC, which opens on February 25 in Geneva.
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)
China's new leaders can open a new era for free expression. They have much to do. By Madeline Earp
The international community, deep in donor fatigue, withdraws media funding. By Bob Dietz
Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam had vibrant blogospheres--until the crackdowns. By Shawn W. Crispin
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
Vietnam intensified its grip on old and new media through a campaign of censorship, surveillance, and imprisonments. Central Propaganda Department officials held weekly meetings with top newspaper editors, outlining news agendas and identifying banned topics. The list of prohibited topics expanded to include criticism of the government's economic management, land conflicts between the state and local communities, and the business dealings of the prime minister's daughter, CPJ sources said. Courts handed down harsh prison sentences to six journalists in 2012. Nguyen Van Khuong, a reporter with the Vietnamese daily Tuoi Tre, was sentenced to four years in prison on trumped-up bribery charges filed after he investigated police corruption. Bloggers Dinh Dang Dinh and Le Thanh Tung were sentenced to six and five years respectively for postings deemed critical of the ruling Communist Party. Three other bloggers--Nguyen Van Hai, Ta Phong Tan, and Phan Thanh Hai--were sentenced to terms ranging from four to 12 years on anti-state charges related to their critical journalism. An executive decree pending in late year threatened a further clampdown on the Internet, including new prohibitions against pseudonymous or anonymous blogs. In a September directive, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called for police to identify and arrest contributors to three critical, politically oriented blogs that had been operated anonymously. The directive also ordered that the sites be blocked domestically.
Sri Lanka remained a highly restrictive and dangerous nation for the press. Critical or opposition journalists continued to face a climate of intense intimidation. More than 20 journalists have gone into exile in the last five years, one of the highest rates in the world. Work-related murders have declined since 2009, but the slayings of nine journalists have gone unsolved over the last decade, one of the worst records of impunity in the world. The government moved aggressively to obstruct the flow of information. In July, the Ministry of Media and Information blocked efforts to introduce freedom of information legislation before parliament, saying national security would be threatened if citizens were given access to public documents. The government had barred previous right-to-information efforts, including one in 2011. In June, police raided the offices of two opposition news websites, arresting staff members and confiscating equipment. At least five other critical websites were blocked. And in March, the authorities told all news organizations they must obtain prior official approval before issuing any text or SMS news alerts that carried information about the military or police.
The Philippines remained one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. At least one journalist, Christopher Guarin, a broadcaster and newspaper publisher, was killed in relation to his work. Four others were killed under unclear circumstances, and at least two more were attacked by unidentified gunmen. Despite President Benigno Aquino III's vow to achieve justice in journalist murders, the Philippines ranked third-worst worldwide on CPJ's Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free. The landmark prosecution of suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre moved at a sluggish pace and was dealt a severe setback with the killing of a key witness. A new Cybercrime Prevention Act gave officials discretionary power to shut down websites and impose prison terms of up to 12 years for online defamation. Amid an outcry by press freedom and civil society groups, as well as legal challenges by petitioners, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the law's implementation.
Pakistan remained one of the deadliest nations in the world for the press, a situation that appeared unlikely to change given the government's unwillingness to confront the problem. In March, Pakistan joined with Brazil and India in raising objections to a comprehensive UNESCO proposal to protect the press and combat impunity in journalist murders. Pakistan has been one of the world's worst nations in combating deadly anti-press violence, CPJ's Impunity Index shows. At least 23 journalist murders have gone unpunished since the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. A 2012 report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan showed growing ties between political repression and the rising incidence of violence against news media. Threats to journalists in Pakistan were no longer confined to traditionally violent areas such as the border region, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or Baluchistan, CPJ research found. Reporters in Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, and Lahore faced persistent threats. And in another troubling development, several international journalists told CPJ that militants had begun threatening them more frequently, as the groups started paying more attention to their global reputations.
Nepal's ruling coalition failed to meet the Supreme Court's May deadline to complete a constitution, dissolving the legislature amid political rifts that left the republic's leadership in doubt. Nationwide strikes by political activists and ethnic minority groups advocating federalization resulted in journalists' being harassed and attacked for perceived negative coverage. The majority Maoist party-controlled magazine Lal Rakshak called Kanak Mani Dixit, director of Himal Media publishing group, a "people's enemy" for his criticism of the party's violent tactics. The government moved to classify 140 categories of information relating to politics and the judiciary. The Supreme Court temporarily stayed implementation of the new classifications in February; a decision was pending in late year. Police arrested some journalists' assailants but murder investigations stalled, keeping Nepal on CPJ's Impunity Index of countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free. An international media mission, which included CPJ and other global press freedom groups, met with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in February to demand effective prosecution for past slayings and refine press freedom safeguards in the draft constitution.
Journalists faced numerous attacks during a tumultuous year marked by the ouster of President Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader. Nasheed opponents attacked TV stations and journalists in the capital, Malé, after protests against his government escalated in early year. Nasheed, a former human rights defender and political prisoner who was elected president in 2008, stepped down in February but accused his successor, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, and former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of having orchestrated a coup. As Nasheed’s supporters took to the streets in protests seeking new presidential elections, numerous attacks on the press were reported. News coverage reflected the country’s political polarization. Raajje TV, a pro-Nasheed station, said that vandals briefly forced it off the air and that police assaulted and harassed its journalists. Police accused Raajje of falsely reporting officer misconduct and said vaguely that they would not “provide support” to the station. New elections were slated for July 2013, but tensions remained high in late year after Nasheed was arrested on abuse-of-office charges. The worst attack of the year came in June when unidentified assailants slashed the throat of Ismail Rasheed, a secularist who blogged about gay rights. His supporters said Hassan had stoked religious extremism and failed to ensure a proper investigation into the attack on Rasheed, who survived.
Violence plagued journalists in northeastern Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh, including four attacks on the Arunachal Times. Tongam Rina, a columnist for the paper, survived a shooting that put her in intensive care for a time. The authorities blocked hundreds of websites they claimed incited ethnic and religious protests in Assam and beyond, but the blocking also affected numerous online news outlets, along with sites that were rebutting calls for violence. The September arrest of anti-graft cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on sedition, insult, and other charges outraged civil society. Trivedi made bail as the sedition charge was dropped, but at least two freelance journalists facing anti-state charges remained in jail without trial for more than a year. A third reporter was imprisoned in late year on retaliatory charges filed after he exposed assaults on young women in Karnataka state. India placed 12th on CPJ’s Impunity Index of countries that fail to solve journalist murders. A botched inquiry into the 2011 killing of Jyotirmoy Dey was seen as emblematic of the failure. In Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, assailants obstructed coverage of politics, courts, and religion. Nationwide, coverage of corruption was risky: Rajesh Mishra was slain in March for reporting on financial irregularities in Madyha Pradesh schools. In May, Jharkhand authorities threatened videographer Mukesh Rajak for asking questions about local expenditures. Twenty-five percent of journalists killed in India since 1992 covered corruption.
As the leadership handed over power to new Communist Party appointees in a November congress, censors aggressively blocked coverage of dissent, including reports on blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest. Coverage of corruption was tightly controlled in foreign and domestic media. The New York Times and Bloomberg News were censored domestically after they revealed the fortunes held by the families of top leaders, including the incoming president, Xi Jinping. The Foreign Ministry declined to renew the credentials of Al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan, forcing her to leave Beijing amid troubling anti-foreign rhetoric. Authorities removed top executives at two outspoken domestic papers, Guangzhou's New Express and Shanghai's Oriental Morning Post. Internet users debated environmental disasters and the high-profile ouster of former leadership candidate Bo Xilai over a corruption and murder scandal, setting off fresh censorship and anti-rumor campaigns. China continued to jail a large number of online journalists, many of whom sought to cover issues affecting ethnic minorities. Two Tibetan writers were jailed in 2012 for documenting a debate on the preservation of Tibetan culture. CPJ honored jailed Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award in November.
Burma eased media restrictions in line with its historic transition from military to quasi-civilian rule. At least 12 journalists, including those associated with banned exile media groups, were released in a series of pardons. The government abolished pre-publication censorship--a process that had forced private newspapers to publish in weekly formats--and it allowed coverage of many previously banned topics, including stories on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But the government did not dismantle its censorship body as promised, and it required newspapers to submit copies for official, post-publication review. Several restrictive laws remained in effect, including the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act and Electronic Act and the 2000 Internet Law. Two news journals, Voice Weekly and Envoy, were temporarily suspended in August for violating censorship guidelines. The government began allowing foreign journalists to enter the country, although some were still refused visas. Passage of a new media law was delayed amid journalists’ protests after a leaked draft of the legislation showed that it would fail to guarantee press freedom. A defamation case filed by the government against The Voice newspaper for reporting on alleged corruption in the Ministry of Mines signaled a possible shift to the use of courts to suppress the press.
Long-standing antagonism between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh National Party—what critics call “zero-sum politics”—set off street violence that threatened the safety of journalists. A constitutional amendment eliminated the creation of caretaker governments to oversee general elections, a step likely to intensify political passions surrounding the scheduled 2013 vote. The Bangladesh National Party called for political agitation and suggested it may boycott the election. The amendment also criminalized criticism of the constitution itself, labeling such dissent as sedition. A group of machete-wielding assailants killed Jamal Uddin, a reporter who covered the drug trade for a Bengali-language newspaper in Jessore district. The June slaying ended a nearly seven-year period in which no Bangladeshi journalist had been killed in direct relation to journalism. Mystery surrounded the double murder of married journalists Meherun Runi and Golam Mustofa Sarowar. The authorities made arrests in the case but disclosed no motive. CPJ is investigating to determine whether the double slaying was work-related.
For the first time since 2005, CPJ documented no work-related fatalities in Afghanistan. But the country remained a dangerous place, with many international and domestic journalists telling CPJ that they had received threats during the year. News outlets united to slow the advance of a media bill that, with its vague terminology, would allow for increased government restrictions on news coverage. As donor nations prepared to scale down military and economic support and funders backed away in the run-up to the 2014 deadline for troop withdrawal, Afghanistan’s vibrant press, with more than 400 news organizations, began to look increasingly overpopulated. Despite efforts by local journalists and international organizations to bolster the Afghan media, outlet managers and owners said the decline had already begun. Some estimated that more than 700 journalists had already lost their jobs by mid-year. The country suffered from an increasingly non-partisan national media environment; instead, news organizations set up by political or religious leaders looked most likely to survive. Internet penetration remained very low as officials began to implement a World Bank-funded project aimed at quadrupling the rate by 2016.
Analyses and data track press conditions throughout the region. Bob Dietz describes the challenges facing Afghan media as international aid declines. Shawn W. Crispin details increasing Internet repression in Southeast Asia. And Madeline Earp highlights China's growing hostility toward the foreign press--even as the nation pursues its own global media expansion.
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
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
Questions surrounding the death of Dennis Aranas, accomplice-turned-witness to the murder of Filipino journalist Gerardo Ortega, have increased over the past week. Their answers beg yet another question: will the masterminds behind Ortega's murder succeed in eluding justice?
Here is a quick pointer to one of Sri Lanka's few remaining independent media sources, Groundviews, which just posted a lengthy look at the president's newfound interest in social media: "The Sri Lankan President's Twitter archive and Propaganda 2.0: New challenges for online dissent." In a country where there isn't all that much to laugh about, Groundviews pokes some fun at President Mahinda Rajapaksa's recently launched Twitter account, @PresRajapaksa.
Authorities in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on February 9, 2013, ordered citizens to remain indoors and restricted mobile Internet service and cable television across several districts in the lead-up to a controversial execution of a militant from the region, according to news reports.
Cyberattacks on news websites and apparent government hacking into journalists' email accounts have raised new questions about the integrity of media reforms in Burma. The New York Times reported on Sunday that several journalists who regularly cover Burma-related news recently received warning messages from Google that their email accounts may have been hacked by "state-sponsored attackers."
February 8, 2013, New York--Individuals alleged to be part of a right-wing Hindu group attacked an employee of the Mangalore-based Karavali Ale daily on Wednesday, confiscated and torched copies of the paper's editions on Thursday, and threatened news vendors, according to news reports and the head of the media group that owns the paper. The paper had published a front page story linking the Hindu group to drug trafficking, news reports said.
Indian journalist Naveen Soorinje continues to languish in prison despite last week's decision by the Karnataka state cabinet to withdraw charges against him. New developments this week are challenging his release. And his continued imprisonment raises a larger question about the role of journalists at the occurrence of a crime.
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?
The highly respected Pakistani editor Ayesha Haroon first came to CPJ's New York office in July 2011, along with her husband, Faisal Bari, and Absar Alam, both of whom work for the Open Society Foundations. We talked about ways to confront the dangerous conditions facing Pakistani journalists. It was a bad year: Seven journalists would be killed before 2011 concluded, making Pakistan the deadliest nation in the world for the press. The year before, eight had died.
It was a great discussion, genuinely exciting, as we talked through possible ideas. Ayesha was a quiet presence at first, but as ideas started flowing, she served as a reality checker for the rest of us. We all knew there are no quick solutions to the problems for journalists in Pakistan, so we looked for practical projects that would tackle them in the mid- or long-term. The meeting ended, the email trails followed, a plan evolved. In the months after, my family lost my 97-year-old mother, and I received gracious notes from the people who had been at that first meeting.
Vietnamese blogger Le Anh Hung was released on February 5, 2013, about 12 days after he was arrested and held against his will in a psychiatric institution in Hanoi, the national capital, according to news reports.
Bangkok, February 1, 2013--In a widening crackdown on online expression, Vietnamese security officials have arrested critical independent blogger Le Anh Hung and are holding him against his will in a psychiatric institution, news reports said. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest and calls on authorities to immediately release Hung and all other journalists detained on spurious charges in Vietnam.
Although Naveen Soorinje is still in jail, there may be some good news. Today, 86 days after his arrest, the state cabinet in Karnataka decided to withdraw charges against him.
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."
Lau Tzu once said: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In Nepal, getting to that first step has been a tumultuous process. Tomorrow, a court in the western district of Dailekh is expected to formally begin hearings in the 2004 murder case of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa.
Black January commemorations in Colombo have become an annual event. Tuesday's demonstration was the second. The protest aims to recall the series of killings and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka in recent years, many of them occurring in Januaries past. All of them have gone untried and unpunished, sustaining the country's perfect record of impunity for those who want to silence media by murder.
New York, January 28, 2013--Authorities in Nepal should ensure the safety of more than 20 journalists who fled the western district of Dailekh on Thursday after receiving death threats from individuals they said were supporters of the ruling Maoist party, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least five news outlets have been forced to halt operations as a result, news reports said.
New York, January 24, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the threats and acts of intimidation against journalists in Nepal during Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's visit on Wednesday to the western district of Dailekh.
New York, January 24, 2013--A Thai court sentenced news editor and political activist Somyot Prueksakakasemsuk to 11 years in prison on Wednesday for two articles the court ruled had insulted the Thai monarch, a criminal offense under the country's strict lѐse majesté law. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the harsh sentencing and calls for the journalist's immediate and unconditional release.
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.
Three years ago, on January 24, 2010, columnist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda vanished on his way to work to cover the final campaigning in Sri Lanka's bitterly contested presidential election. He has not been heard from since. The pro-opposition website he worked for, Lanka eNews, has been repeatedly attacked, its offices hit with arson, its staff arrested and harassed, its editor driven into exile in England.
Some news which appears to be good from China, and some that isn't: Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen has been moved to a women's prison where conditions are not as harsh, according to his friends and associates at the Switzerland based group Filming for Tibet. They say that Wangchen has been transferred to the Qinghai Provincial Women's Prison, the main prison for women in China's Qinghai province. He had been held at the Xichuan labor camp in Siling, in eastern Tibet.
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?
New York, January 15, 2013--Authorities in Bangladesh must immediately investigate Monday's stabbing of a blogger in Dhaka, determine the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police, emergency workers, and at least three journalists were killed in a bomb blast on January 10, 2012, that occurred 10 minutes after an initial explosion near a billiards hall in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, according to news reports and CPJ sources.
New York, January 11, 2013--Hong Kong's government should withdraw a proposed regulation that would limit journalists' access to information about business leaders, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, January 10, 2013--At least two journalists were killed and two others seriously injured when a bomb went off near a billiards hall in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, as the journalists were reporting on an explosion that was set off there just minutes earlier, according to local journalists and news reports. Dozens of other people were reported killed in the double bombing, for which the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility.
Bangkok, January 9, 2013--At least five independent bloggers were sentenced today to harsh jail terms in Vietnam, according to local and international news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns this move and calls on Vietnamese authorities to reverse the charges on appeal and release the bloggers.
There is cautious optimism among China media watchers this morning over the news that a deal has been struck between censors and protesting journalists at China's Southern Weekly news magazine, which is also known as Southern Weekend. The journalists will not face reprisals for their protest, and propaganda authorities will not repeat the editing stunt (which transformed a pro-reform New Year editorial into a tribute to the Communist Party) that sparked the dispute, according to The Associated Press.
New York, January 8, 2013--Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai today publicly criticized the arrest of five of his party members who stand accused of the 2004 murder of radio journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the arrests and calls on the prime minister to allow due process to take its course.
Even though members of the Karnataka state government have provided broad assurances that they will drop charges against Naveen Soorinje, the young journalist remains imprisoned two months after he was arrested for exposing an assault on women by Hindu extremists. Welcome to Incredible India, where a journalist can be locked up for documenting a crime against women even as millions express outrage over medieval mindsets following the fatal gang rape of a Delhi student in December.
In the past few days, Chinese journalists and their supporters have launched startlingly direct opposition to Communist Party rule, protesting a heavy-handed move by Guangdong's provincial propaganda department to unilaterally replace a Southern Weekly editorial on constitutionalism with pro-Party bromides. Defying censors' directives, media organizations around the country continue to post messages of support of Southern Weekly reporters who have gone on strike and called for the dismissal of provincial propaganda chief Tuo Zhen. It is the 21st century equivalent of carrying placards through Tiananmen Square.
Vietnam's crackdown on independent bloggers hit a new low in recent days with reports of sexual violence perpetrated by state officials against a prominent online reporter.
New York January 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in India to refrain from pressing charges against a media group that televised an interview with the companion of the Delhi rape victim who died last week. The December 16 case has garnered global attention.
Staffers at the Guangdong-based Southern Weekly magazine have publicly expressed their outrage at the heavy handed intervention of propaganda officials who unilaterally rewrote a New Year's editorial calling for improved constitutional rule in China. A piece extolling the virtues of the Communist Party ran in its place. Sixty staffers posted an open letter to the provincial government accusing propaganda officials of "raping" the paper's editorial procedures, The Associated Press reports. Apparently, the editorial was changed by censors after the magazine had closed and was being readied for the printer. Staff did not know of the changes until the piece appeared in print and online.
Malaysian crime reporter Ang Kean Siang, a journalist at the local Guang Ming Daily Chinese-language newspaper, was physically attacked on December 30, allegedly by members of a local civilian voluntary patrol unit, after taking pictures of a woman who appeared to have fallen to her death from an apartment building in Penang state's Georgetown city, according to local reports.
The fleeting nature of YouTube's availability in Pakistan this weekend--the site, which has been banned in the country since September, was unblocked for a whole three minutes--is only the latest emblem of Islamabad's erratic and confounding approach to Internet censorship. Those who have been hoping for less opaque tactics apparently are in for disappointment.
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