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Attacks on the Press in 2010

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Top Developments
• Legislation criminalizes coverage that insults president, state institutions.
• Three top papers purchased by mysterious corporation. Coverage grows timid.

Key Statistic
2: Journalists killed in 2010, one a Togolese sports reporter, killed in soccer team ambush.


President José Eduardo dos Santos led one of the world's fastest-growing economies, but he faced criticism over social inequalities, corruption, and press freedom violations. Capitalizing on booming oil production and diamond mining, his government invested a reported US$1 billion to host the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in January. But the soccer tournament, which the government saw as an opportunity to enhance its international image, was marred when separatist guerrillas ambushed the Togolese national team, killing two people, including a journalist, and exposing the precarious security situation in the restive enclave of Cabinda. Dos Santos, in power since 1979, and his ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) sought to tamp down on independent reporting of the ambush. By mid-year, a corporate entity whose principals were not disclosed had purchased three of the country's leading independent newspapers and toned down their coverage.

Top Developments
• Kirchner accuses two papers of colluding with the military dictatorship in 1976.
• Legislation would restrict media ownership in newsprint companies.

Key Statistic
400: Pages in government report that claims Clarín and La Nación media groups conspired with dictators.


President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's administration accused top executives of the country's two leading newspapers, Clarín and La Nación, of conspiring with the former military regime to commit crimes against humanity, allegations that dramatically escalated existing government-media tensions. In making a claim as controversial as it was aggressive, Kirchner called on the courts to decide whether the newspapers colluded with the dictatorship to force the sale of a newsprint supplier in 1976. The clash deepened divisions within the press itself, as journalists took sides on administration policies and tactics. Political talk shows on state-owned media lambasted government critics in the press. The space for balanced and unbiased journalism was significantly reduced, analysts said.

Top Developments
• New broadcast law gives regulators broad powers to revoke TV licenses.
• Gala TV, a rare critical broadcaster, faces array of government pressures.

Key Statistic
1: Number of digital television licenses the government will grant per region. The plan will cut diversity.


As his government strengthened ties with Russia, President Serzh Sargsyan had to quell lingering domestic discontent over electoral fraud and economic woes, particularly in the construction and mining industries. New legislation granted regulators broad new powers to award and revoke licenses, while putting severe limits on the number of provincial broadcast licenses. Self-censorship remained widespread in the media, as lawlessness curbed the activities of journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition leaders.

Top Developments
• European Court orders release of Eynulla Fatullayev; government still jails editor.
• News sites report periodic blocking, typically when sensitive stories are posted.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists interrogated by security agents after running a statement from the jailed Fatullayev


The authoritarian government of President Ilham Aliyev relied on imprisonments and an atmosphere of impunity to suppress independent journalism. Aliyev, who essentially inherited the presidency of the strategic Caspian Sea nation from his father, used the country's vast oil and gas resources to play off the competing interests of traditional partners Russia and Turkey with those of newer allies such as the European Union and the United States.

Top Developments
• Authorities wage post-election crackdown, raiding newsrooms and jailing reporters.
• New Internet law requires registration of sites, tracking of user activity.

Key Statistic
20: Journalists detained as government silences coverage of election protests.


In a massive post-election crackdown, authorities raided news outlets and detained at least 20 journalists covering protests over a flawed December 19 presidential vote that delivered a new term to incumbent Aleksandr Lukashenko. Leading journalists such as Natalya Radina, editor of the pro-opposition news website Charter 97, and Irina Khalip, correspondent for the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta, were among those being held in late year. Security agents stormed newsrooms of major outlets, including Radio for Belarus and the satellite television channel Belsat. Observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe criticized the government for secretive vote-counting practices and suppression of news media.

Top Developments
• Judicial censorship rampant; order bars paper from covering corruption allegations.
• Convictions won in journalist's murder as Brazil makes strides against impunity.

Key Statistic
398: Demands to remove online content made by Brazilian authorities to Google in the first six months of 2010.


Continuing a pattern of extensive censorship imposed from the bench, regional judges banned dozens of news outlets from covering some of the most important topics of the day, including issues involving the October general election, good governance, and public integrity. The national daily O Estado de S. Paulo faced a censorship order throughout the year that prevented the paper and its website from reporting on a corruption investigation involving the family of Senate President José Sarney. A provincial reporter was murdered in reprisal for his work, while other reporters and media workers operating outside large urban centers faced attacks as they covered politics and corruption.

Top Developments
• Junta bars foreign reporters, censors speech prior to national election.
• Aung San Suu Kyi freed, but government still jails journalists, critics.

Key Statistic
13: Journalists imprisoned as of December 1, the fourth‐highest figure in the world.


After nearly five decades of uninterrupted military rule, Burma moved toward an uncertain new era in November when it staged national elections and freed the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The new parliament, although dominated by the military junta's chosen candidates, was the first civilian government in the country since 1962. Military leaders, notorious for their international isolation, sought international legitimacy through the election. "But the vote was so rigged, it had the opposite effect," The Washington Post noted in an editorial. "Rules were written so that, no matter how people voted, the military would retain control; but even so, the regime could not resist Election Day intimidation and ballot-box stuffing."

Top Developments
• Authorities unleash reprisals when journalists question oil company deal.
• Nation mourns the death of pioneering journalist Pius Njawé.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists jailed for leaked document. One dies in custody, a second alleges he was tortured.


When four newspaper journalists jointly sent questions to a top presidential adviser in late 2009, they hoped to learn more about alleged misuse of state oil company funds. Instead, they set off virulent government reprisals beginning in February that left one editor dead, another alleging he was tortured in state custody, and two others imprisoned for nine months. The case, the worst press freedom abuse in Cameroon in at least a decade, highlighted the brutal intimidation meted out by powerful public figures against journalists scrutinizing their activities.

Top Developments
• Cracking down on ethnic press, authorities jail Uighur, Tibetan journalists.
• Talk of media reform and press rights generates no official changes.

Key Statistic
34: Journalists imprisoned on December 1, tied with Iran for the highest figure in the world.


Operating under the strictures of the central propaganda department, official Chinese media either ignored or denounced the October 8 award of the Nobel Peace Prize to human rights defender and writer Liu Xiaobo. Authorities, who considered the award an insult, also blacked out coverage of Liu's prize on international news broadcasts from the BBC and CNN. The case highlighted significant, ongoing official censorship, and formed a backdrop for a national discussion on the potential for press reforms. Five days after the award was announced, 23 senior Communist Party members called for a sweeping overhaul of China's media censorship policies. "Our core demand is that the system of censorship be dismantled in favor of a system of legal responsibility," said the authors, largely retired party elders, many of whom held ranking positions in the media. Widely distributed by e-mail and posted on the Sina news portal, the letter criticized the propaganda department's unchecked control on news and information, calling it "an invisible black hand." Though the letter was very likely drafted before the Nobel prize was announced, its message was delivered at a moment of heightened attention.

Top Developments
• Progress slow in probe of illegal espionage that targeted journalists.
• One journalist murdered. Deadly violence slows, but danger remains.

Key Statistic
4: Provincial reporters forced into exile due to threats.


President Álvaro Uribe Vélez ended his two terms in office with a decidedly mixed press freedom record. CPJ research charted a drop in lethal violence during his administration: Eight reporters were killed in direct relation to their work in his first two years in office, while six died over the remaining six years of his tenure. The government has cited a journalist protection program and an improved overall security climate as reasons.

2010

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