Attacks on the Press in 2010

Attacks on the Press   |   Russia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Russia

Top Developments
• Some progress in journalist murder probes, but attacks continue with impunity.
• FSB given broad detention powers in measure that targets critical media.

Key Statistic
5: Unsolved journalist murder cases that Russia's top investigators pledged to reopen.


The nation's top investigative agency reopened a series of unsolved journalist murders and reported progress on several fronts. But with convictions elusive, impunity in anti-press attacks continued to stain the nation's international image. Russia ranked eighth on CPJ's 2010 Impunity Index, reflecting one of the worst records in the world, as all but one of 19 press murders since 2000 went unsolved. While no journalists were murdered in 2010, at least one reporter was brutally beaten in retaliation for his work. And that assailant, like nearly all attackers in anti-press cases, remained at large.

February 15, 2011 12:19 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Rwanda

Attacks on the Press 2010: Rwanda

Top Developments
• Government drives Kinyarwanda- language papers out of print before presidential vote.
• Critical newspaper editor assassinated. Skepticism greets police investigation.

Key Statistic
93: Percentage of vote taken by incumbent Paul Kagame in presidential election. He faced no credible opposition.


Before a crowd of thousands in Kigali, just days before he was re-elected in August in a virtually uncontested race, President Paul Kagame declared that "those who give our country a bad image can take a rope and hang themselves," the BBC reported. Kagame's antagonism toward critics guided his administration's approach to the press throughout the election year. The government shut the nation's two leading independent weeklies in April, silenced several other news outlets in the weeks before the vote, and harassed critical editors in court. In the most startling development, the acting editor of the independent weekly Umuvugizi, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, was gunned down outside his Kigali home in what appeared to be a planned assassination. Police immediately labeled the killing a reprisal for the editor's supposed involvement in the 1994 genocide, a conclusion that was greeted with deep skepticism from journalists.

February 15, 2011 12:18 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Serbia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Serbia

Top Developments
• Authorities win convictions in anti-press attacks, improve access to information.
• Constitutional Court strikes down restrictive media ownership regulations.

Key Statistic
3: Suspects convicted and sentenced to prison for threats against B92 journalist.


Serbian authorities stepped up law enforcement efforts in attacks against journalists, winning convictions in high-profile cases, even as they pursued some restrictive media policies. These sometimes contradictory media practices reflected the broader political goals of President Boris Tadic, who pursued liberal policies such as seeking European Union membership and reconciling with neighboring Balkan states, while appealing to conservatives by refusing to recognize Kosovo's independence and failing to arrest indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.

February 15, 2011 12:17 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Somalia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Somalia

Top Developments
• Africa's most dangerous country for the press. Two journalists killed in 2010.
• Al-Shabaab shuts downs, seizes control of major radio stations.

Key Statistic
59: Somali journalists in exile, the second largest press diaspora in the world. Ethiopians constitute the largest.

Somalia remained Africa's most dangerous country for the press. Two journalists were killed during the year in direct relation to their work, bringing the death toll to 23 since 2005. The conflict between Islamic insurgent groups and a weak Transitional Federal Government backed by African Union troops continued to fuel a steady exodus of journalists seeking to escape deadly violence, severe censorship, and harassment. CPJ's 2010 analysis of exiled journalists, published in June, found that at least 16 journalists had fled the country in the prior 12 months, with 59 having gone into exile over the past decade. Remaining journalists practiced extreme self-censorship to survive.

February 15, 2011 12:16 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   South Africa

Attacks on the Press 2010: South Africa

Top Developments
• ANC pushes proposal to create state media tribunal to monitor, sanction press.
• Anti-media rhetoric heats up, tarnishing nation's image as press freedom leader.

Key Statistic
25: Years of imprisonment for disclosing classified information, as proposed in the Protection of Information Bill.


On the defensive about high crime rates and reports of public corruption, the ruling African National Congress pushed back aggressively against a probing news media. As ANC leaders ratcheted up anti-press rhetoric, the government moved ahead with legislative proposals that would monitor and sanction the press, criminalize investigative journalism, and shield public officials from scrutiny. The ANC campaign tarnished the image of Africa's press freedom leader and raised fears that the country could backslide into apartheid-era censorship.

February 15, 2011 12:15 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Sri Lanka

Attacks on the Press 2010: Sri Lanka

Top Developments
• Anti-government cartoonist missing; police make no evident effort to find him.
• Government readies plan for a strict media regulatory agency.

Key Statistic
19: Journalists in exile, having fled violence, imprisonment, and intimidation.


In his Independence Day speech on February 4, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared that the country "cannot be developed with harassment, gross punishments, or by the gun." But the sentence that followed--"Discipline is not revenge"--hinted at the repressive measures his administration would continue to pursue against critical news media.

February 15, 2011 12:14 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Sudan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Sudan

Top Developments
• Censorship intensifies before election; beatings, imprisonments reported.
• Authorities use surveillance, harassment, severe legal restrictions to control news.

Key Statistic
3: Rai al-Shaab journalists imprisoned, one of whom reported being tortured in custody.


Sudanese journalists faced a familiar, toxic combination of censorship, legalistic harassment, and intimidation as a potentially historic national election instead left ruling authorities further entrenched. Self-censorship was widespread among Sudan's beleaguered press, while security agents regularly prevented coverage of topics deemed sensitive, including Darfur, the International Criminal Court (ICC), human rights issues, official corruption, secessionism, and state censorship itself. Repression and political unrest continued after the election as attention turned to a planned 2011 national referendum that could result in full independence for South Sudan. Meanwhile, government restrictions continued to inhibit media coverage of the pressing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

February 15, 2011 12:14 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Thailand

Attacks on the Press 2010: Thailand

Top Developments
• Using emergency decree, government blocks access to thousands of websites.
• CPJ faults government, protesters for lethal violence against media.

Key Statistic
2: Journalists killed during violent clashes between security forces and protesters in Bangkok.


Armed clashes between anti-government protesters and state security forces resulted in 91 deaths and more than 1,800 injuries, a toll that deepened Thailand's debilitating five-year-old political crisis. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva invoked an emergency decree to contain the protests and employed its discretionary powers to sharply curb press freedom, which included far-ranging Internet censorship.

February 15, 2011 12:14 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Tunisia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Tunisia

Top Developments
• Targeting journalists, government criminalizes contact with foreign organizations.
• Private broadcast licenses are controlled by Ben Ali's family and friends.

Key Statistic
5: Years of imprisonment for violations of new law barring contact with foreign groups.


Tunisia remained one of the region's most repressive nations even as it sought to project an image of liberalism and modernity. The government of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali jailed at least three journalists during the year, one of whom remained in custody when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists on December 1. Vague new legislation targeted critical journalists and human rights defenders by criminalizing international communications that the government deemed harmful to its interests.

February 15, 2011 12:11 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Turkey

Attacks on the Press 2010: Turkey

Top Developments
• Authorities use anti-terror, defamation, security laws to prosecute journalists.
• EU criticizes press record, citing prosecutions, insufficient legal guarantees.

Key Statistic
0: Convictions obtained in the 2007 slaying of editor Hrant Dink.


Authorities paraded journalists into court on anti-terror, criminal defamation, and state security charges as they tried to suppress critical news and commentary on issues involving national identity, the Kurdish minority, and an alleged anti-government conspiracy. The European Court of Human Rights found that Turkish authorities bore culpability in the 2007 slaying of editor Hrant Dink, even as the government struggled to bring anyone to justice in the murder.

February 15, 2011 12:10 AM ET

2010

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