Attacks on the Press in 2010

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Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2010

A Worldwide Survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists


At a Mexico City protest against anti-press violence, a poster recalls the slain journalist Valentine Valdés Espinosa (AP/Marco Ugarte)

Table of Contents

Regional Analyses



February 15, 2011 12:59 AM ET

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2010: Preface

by Riz Khan

It's a double-edged sword. Technology has made the life of journalists so much easier and yet so much more difficult. Even in the least-developed countries, where simple infrastructure such as paved road is a luxury, access to mobile phones, the portability of satellite broadcasting systems, the growth of delivery platforms, and the popularity of 24-hour news channels enable a news story to make it into the homes of hundreds of millions of people instantly.

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2010: Introduction

International Institutions Fail To Defend Press Freedom

An empty chair for Liu at the Nobel ceremony, and a lack of support from international institutions. (Reuters) by Joel Simon

UNESCO is the primary entity within the United Nations dedicated to the defense of press freedom. Yet in 2010, journalism and human rights organizations were forced to launch an international campaign to stop UNESCO from presenting a prize honoring one of Africa's most notorious press freedom abusers.

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2010: Internet Analysis

Exposing the Internet's shadowy assailants

In this photo taken by an undercover journalist for the Democratic Voice of Burma, an online, exile-run news agency, Buddhist monks lead protests against the Burmese military junta. (DVB/AP)

by Danny O'Brien

For the past decade, those who used the Internet to report the news might have assumed that the technological edge was in their favor. But online journalists now face more than just the standard risks to those working in dangerous conditions. They find themselves victims of new attacks unique to the new medium. From online surveillance of writers through customized malicious software to "just in time" censorship that can wipe controversial news sites off the Internet at the most inconvenient moment, the online tools to attack the press are getting smarter and spreading further.

Attacks on the Press   |   Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Attacks on the Press 2010: Africa Analysis

Across Continent, Governments Criminalize
Investigative Reporting

Ivory Coast's President and 2010 presidential candidate Laurent Gbagbo talks to the press. (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

By Mohamed Keita

Across the continent, the emergence of in-depth reporting and the absence of effective access-to-information laws have set a collision course in which public officials, intent on shielding their activities, are moving aggressively to unmask confidential sources, criminalize the possession of government documents, and retaliate against probing journalists. From Cameroon to Kenya, South Africa to Senegal, government reprisals have resulted in imprisonments, violence, threats, and legal harassment. At least two suspicious deaths--one involving an editor, the other a confidential source--have been reported in the midst of government reprisals against probing news coverage.

Attacks on the Press   |   Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, USA, Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2010: Americas Analysis

In Latin America, A Return of Censorship

The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional leaves white space for an image the government won't allow. (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

By Carlos Lauría

As the preeminent political family in the northeastern state of Maranhão for more than 40 years, the Sarneys are used to getting their way in Brazilian civic life. So when the leading national daily O Estado de S. Paulo published allegations in June 2009 that linked José Sarney, the Senate president and the nation's former leader, to nepotism and corruption, the political clan did not sit idly by. The Sarneys turned to a judge in Brasília, winning an injunction that halted O Estado from publishing any more reports about the allegations. Eighteen months later, as 2010 came to a close, the ban remained in effect despite domestic and international outcry.

February 15, 2011 12:54 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan, Burma, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam

Attacks on the Press 2010: Asia Analysis

Partisan Journalism and the Cycle of Repression

With journalists in their midst, police and protesters clash in Bangkok. (Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom)

by Bob Dietz and Shawn W. Crispin

Lal Wickramatunga's family and publishing house, Leader Publications, have paid dearly in Sri Lanka's highly charged political climate. While Leader's newspapers, including the weekly Sunday Leader, are widely known for tough, independent reporting, they have been caught up in a partisan media environment, one filled with violence and censorship. Wickramatunga's brother has been murdered, his company has been sued, and his journalists face intimidation.

Attacks on the Press   |   Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Europe and Central Asia Analysis

On the Runet, Old-School Repression Meets New

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched a blog but the Kremlin promised to tightly control who can comment on it. (Reuters)

By Nina Ognianova and Danny O'Brien

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has often talked about the importance of a free press and free Internet, telling reporters before his election that the Web "guarantees the independence of mass media." He explicitly tied the two together in his first State of the Union address in November 2008, declaring that "freedom of speech should be backed up by technological innovation" and that no government official "can obstruct discussion on the Internet."

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2010: Middle East and North Africa Analysis

Suppression Under the Cover of National Security

A police trooper stands guard on a police vehicle outside a state security court in Sanaa, Yemen. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

By Mohamed Abdel Dayem

Relying on an extensive network of sources in the military, government, and Islamist groups, Yemeni freelance journalist Abdulelah Shaea had become a frequent and pointed critic of the administration's counterterrorism efforts. By July, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government had enough, dispatching security agents to seize and roughly interrogate Shaea for several hours about his reporting.

Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Afghanistan

Top Developments
• Two killed, but press fatalities don't rise in proportion to overall dangers.
• Kidnappings an ongoing hazard; two French journalists held captive.

Key Statistic
13: Foreign journalists killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion.


Journalists faced numerous challenges from a multifaceted war, instances of government censorship, a culture of official corruption, and factionalism within the domestic media. Two journalists were killed and two others were held by kidnappers throughout the year. The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, an agency funded by the European Union and European governmental aid agencies, said in September that Afghanistan was at its most dangerous level since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Insecurity reigned even as the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), raised troop levels, largely through the addition of about 30,000 U.S. forces. By the end of November, the United States had about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, and ISAF troop levels stood at more than 130,000.

February 15, 2011 12:50 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Angola

Attacks on the Press 2010: Angola

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.

February 15, 2011 12:49 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Argentina

Attacks on the Press 2010: Argentina

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.

February 15, 2011 12:48 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Armenia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Armenia

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.

February 15, 2011 12:47 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Azerbaijan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Azerbaijan

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.

February 15, 2011 12:46 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Belarus

Attacks on the Press 2010: Belarus

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.

February 15, 2011 12:45 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Brazil

Attacks on the Press 2010: Brazil

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.

February 15, 2011 12:44 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Burma

Attacks on the Press 2010: Burma

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."

February 15, 2011 12:43 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Cameroon

Attacks on the Press 2010: Cameroon

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.

February 15, 2011 12:42 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   China

Attacks on the Press 2010: China

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.

February 15, 2011 12:41 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Colombia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Colombia

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.

February 15, 2011 12:40 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Cuba

Attacks on the Press 2010: Cuba

Top Developments
• Cuba relents on political detainees, frees 17 journalists. Four still held.
• In exile, freed journalists face economic, professional difficulties.

Key Statistic
45: Poems that journalist and former detainee Ricardo González Alfonso smuggled from prison.


After years of intensive advocacy and international diplomacy, 17 independent journalists swept up in the government's 2003 Black Spring crackdown were finally freed from an unjust and inhumane imprisonment. The Roman Catholic Church, with participation from Spanish officials, struck an agreement in July with the government of President Raúl Castro Ruz that called for the release of all 52 prisoners still being held seven years after the massive crackdown on political dissent and independent journalism. The deal as outlined by the church called for the release of all Black Spring detainees within four months, but three journalists and several other dissidents, apparently balking at Cuba's insistence that they leave the country in exchange for their freedom, remained in jail in late year. A fourth journalist, arrested in 2009, also remained in prison.

February 15, 2011 12:39 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Attacks on the Press 2010: Democratic Republic of Congo

Top Developments
• Government arrests several journalists on defamation charges.
• Journalists fear repression as 2011 presidential election approaches.

Key Statistic
2: Weeks that reporter Tumba Lumembu was held incommunicado by intelligence agents.


On the defensive over criticism of its human rights record and its handling of the conflict with rebels in eastern Congo, President Joseph Kabila's government censored news coverage and detained several journalists during the year.

February 15, 2011 12:38 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ecuador

Attacks on the Press 2010: Ecuador

Top Developments
• Journalists attacked, broadcasters censored during police uprising.
• Correa administration orders broadcasters to air official rebuttals.

Key Statistic
6: Hours during which broadcasters were told to suspend programming, carry state news reports on police revolt.


President Rafael Correa's administration used censorship powers throughout the year to supplant independent news and commentary. Authorities compelled critical broadcasters to interrupt news shows to air official rebuttals. And in September, when hundreds of police officers staged violent nationwide protests over plans to reduce their bonus pay, the Communications Ministry ordered broadcasters to halt their own news reports and carry programming from state-owned Ecuador TV.

February 15, 2011 12:37 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt

Attacks on the Press 2010: Egypt

Top Developments
• Government blocks satellite TV, news texting ahead of parliamentary vote.
• Political maneuvering seen as critical editor sacked, another jailed.

Key Statistic
12: Satellite television stations taken off the air one month before the election.


Back in 2005, reporters exposed widespread ballot fraud and voter intimidation during the country's first multi-party presidential election. Determined to avoid a repeat of such coverage during the November parliamentary elections, the government blocked satellite television, clamped down on news dissemination techniques, and orchestrated the silencing of critical voices. The ruling National Democratic Party swept the voting amid widespread reports of fraud.

February 15, 2011 12:36 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Ethiopia

Top Developments
• Editor Dawit Kebede honored with International Press Freedom Award.
• Authorities jail critical journalists, jam VOA Amharic broadcasts.

Key Statistic
7: Hours that two newspaper editors were interrogated as Zenawi gave speech on freedom of choice.


The ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF, imprisoned journalists, jammed foreign broadcasters, and blocked websites as it swept general elections in May. The government-controlled National Electoral Board declared the EPRDF-led coalition of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in power since 1991, the winner in all but two of 547 contested parliamentary seats, prompting opposition allegations of voter intimidation and ballot-rigging, as well as U.S. and European Union criticism. Zenawi won another five-year term as his government dismissed criticism of the vote as a smear campaign. Opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa was kept in prison until October.

February 15, 2011 12:35 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Haiti

Attacks on the Press 2010: Haiti

Top Developments
• Journalists persevere after quake, working from tents and homes.
• Dozens of reporters jobless. Print media sustain heavy losses.

Key Statistic
95: Percent of radio stations knocked off the air by the January earthquake. Most had returned by late year.


Reflecting the devastation across all of Haitian society, the news media suffered massive losses in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck just west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on the afternoon of January 12. More than 220,000 people died and 1.5 million were left homeless, according to official estimates. Government offices, schools, hospitals, and entire neighborhoods were reduced to ruins, as was most of the infrastructure supporting Haitian news media. More than 95 percent of commercial and community radio stations--the primary source of news in Haiti--went off the air as their equipment and premises sustained heavy damage, according to Joseph Guyler Delva, president of the local press freedom group SOS Journalistes. The human losses were great as well: At least 30 journalists died in the earthquake and its immediate aftermath, SOS Journalistes reported.

February 15, 2011 12:34 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Honduras

Attacks on the Press 2010: Honduras

Top Developments
• Rash of journalist murders occurs in lawless, politically charged climate.
• In murder investigations, authorities inattentive and dismissive.

Key Statistic
3: Months between Nahúm Palacios Arteaga's murder and the time authorities conducted an autopsy.


Six journalists were murdered in a seven-week span, with three more slain by year's end, a rash of killings that was made all the more shocking by the government's careless and dismissive response. Inattentive and botched investigative work yielded the arrests of but two suspects in all of the killings, and a judge quickly dismissed charges against them. CPJ found that at least three of the victims were slain in direct relation to their work, and it continued to investigate the other cases in late year.

February 15, 2011 12:33 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Indonesia

Attacks on the Press 2010: Indonesia

Top Developments
• Nation slides backward on press freedom; censorship threats emerge.
• Three reporters murdered and magazine attacked, all with impunity.

Key Statistic
2: Years' imprisonment given to Playboy Indonesia editor in a politicized prosecution.


Indonesia slipped backward on press freedom as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's government sought to balance progressive desires for an industrialized society with the expectations of the country's conservative Islamic population. Three reporters were killed with impunity in rural areas, a magazine was attacked after questioning the financial holdings of top national police officers, and the editor of the defunct Playboy Indonesia was jailed in a politically motivated case. Threats of censorship emerged as some officials called for restrictions on Internet activity. And while the Constitutional Court struck down elements of a Suharto-era book-banning law, it left the government empowered to ban books with court approval.

February 15, 2011 12:32 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press 2010: Iran

Top Developments
• Authorities sustain their crack- down on critical journalists, arresting dozens.
• Journalists face harsh prison terms and mistreatment in custody.

Key Statistic
34: Journalists imprisoned on December 1. Along with China, Iran is the world's worst jailer of the press.


Defying international condemnation, the government sustained its widespread crackdown on the press, prosecuting journalists arrested in the aftermath of the disputed June 2009 presidential election and detaining additional critical reporters and editors throughout 2010. More than 100 journalists in all had been detained at various times since the crackdown began, CPJ research showed, a campaign of intimidation unparalleled worldwide in more than a decade. The repression came at a time of great global significance that included disputes over Iran's nuclear program and tightening international sanctions.

February 15, 2011 12:31 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press 2010: Iraq

Top Developments
• New press court, politically motivated lawsuits raise alarm.
• As instability festers, five journalists, three support workers are killed.

Key Statistic
$1 billion Damages sought by the Kurdistan Democratic Party from a newspaper that detailed alleged political corruption.


Instability festered throughout the year as political parties wrangled to form a new government after March elections and U.S. troops handed over security to Iraqi forces in August. At least five journalists and three media support workers were killed in relation to their work, reflecting a persistent level of insecurity. Government forces were holding a critical newspaper editor without apparent charge or due process.

February 15, 2011 12:30 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks on the Press 2010: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Top Developments
• In West Bank, Gaza, journalists face obstruction from all sides.
• Israeli fire kills Lebanese reporter during border clash.

Key Statistic
18: Journalists detained when Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound aid convoy.


The press operated in a highly polarized environment as Israeli, Hamas, and Fatah officials, all intent on controlling international news coverage, subjected journalists to harassment, detentions, censorship, and severe restrictions on their movements. Tensions peaked in June, when Israeli troops stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, which was under an Israeli blockade, killing nine passengers and injuring dozens, detaining numerous accompanying reporters, and seizing journalistic material. Israeli authorities accused the organizers of the convoy of subterfuge, while pro-Palestinian activists attempted to use the episode to highlight what they viewed as repressive Israeli policies toward Gaza residents.

February 15, 2011 12:29 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Kazakhstan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Kazakhstan

Top Developments
• New laws restrict online news media, shield government officials from scrutiny.
• OSCE chairman Kazakhstan undermines organization with repression at home.

Key Statistic
44 Defamation complaints filed in first six months of 2010, many of them by government officials.


President Nursultan Nazarbayev's government failed to deliver the press freedom reforms it had promised in exchange for gaining 2010 chairmanship of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE. Not only did the government renege on explicit pledges to decriminalize libel and bring press laws in line with international standards, it enacted a restrictive new measure governing Internet content and a sweeping privacy law that shielded government officials from public scrutiny.

February 15, 2011 12:28 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Kyrgyzstan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Kyrgyzstan

Top Developments
• Bakiyev censors news media in a failed attempt to hold power.
• Amid ethnic clashes, Uzbek journalists and outlets targeted for reprisals.

Key Statistic
2: Ethnic Uzbek journalists imprisoned as of December 1.


In a year of political revolt and deadly ethnic turmoil, successive presidential administrations cracked down on the press, using censorship, intimidation, and imprisonment. The ouster of the authoritarian Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, followed in June by wrenching conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek residents in the south, cut a deep divide in the nation and put its democratic future at risk. At least two journalists were confined when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists on December 1, illustrating unchanging repression despite changes in leadership.

February 15, 2011 12:27 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Lebanon

Attacks on the Press 2010: Lebanon

Top Developments
• Tensions rise, media polarized as U.N. special tribunal closes in on indictments.
• Technology bill includes several provisions that could restrict press freedom.

Key Statistic
0: Arrests made in the murders of two journalists and a bomb attack against a third journalist in 2005.


Political tensions grew sharply in late year as the U.N.-sponsored Special Tribunal for Lebanon drew closer to issuing indictments in the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. In November, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) aired a documentary--based on what it described as tribunal sources and documents--that said investigators had uncovered evidence against members of Hezbollah, the Shiite paramilitary and political group with ties to Iran and Syria. The potential for indictments against Hezbollah members raised fears of sectarian violence and the collapse of a coalition government in which Hezbollah held a strong minority bloc. In November, the tribunal revised its rules on staging trials in absentia, apparently reflecting concerns that it may be unable to secure the arrests of the named suspects.

February 15, 2011 12:26 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Mexico

Attacks on the Press 2010: Mexico

Top Developments
• Amid rampant violence, Calderón backs federalization of anti-press crimes.
• More than 30 journalists killed or disappeared since Calderón's term began.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists abducted in Durango by gangsters who demand that TV stations air their propaganda.


Organized crime groups exerted fierce pressure on the Mexican press as their control spread across vast regions and nearly every aspect of society. Pervasive self-censorship by news media in areas under drug traffickers' influence was a devastating consequence of violence and intimidation. Ten journalists were killed, at least three in direct relation to their work, and three other reporters disappeared. In addition, journalists were assaulted, kidnapped, or forced into exile, while media outlets were targeted by bomb attacks, making Mexico one of the world's deadliest places for the press. After meeting with a CPJ delegation, President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa pledged to push for legislation making attacks on free expression a federal crime, and announced the launch of a security program for at-risk reporters.

February 15, 2011 12:25 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Morocco

Attacks on the Press 2010: Morocco

Top Developments
• Government pressures advertisers, uses courts to punish critical media.
• Authorities obstruct Spanish and other foreign reporters in Western Sahara.

Key Statistic
2: Leading independent weeklies that closed under government pressure. A daily facing harassment moved online.


The government continued using the judiciary to settle scores with critical journalists and pressuring private advertisers to avoid probing publications, two hallmarks of its antagonistic approach to independent and opposition media. The tactics forced two leading independent weeklies to close and a critical daily newspaper to move online.

February 15, 2011 12:24 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Nepal

Attacks on the Press 2010: Nepal

Top Developments
• Three media owners slain. Kantipur group faces threats, obstruction.
• Maoist cadres burn copies of two Kathmandu newspapers.

Key Statistic
7th: Ranking on CPJ's Impunity Index, reflecting one of the world's worst records in solving press murders.


The repeated failure to elect a leader cast doubt on the success of Nepal's transition from a monarchy enmeshed in civil war to a democratic republic. While a coalition government was elected in 2008, two prime ministers have since resigned, leaving a power vacuum that India and China have been accused of exploiting. Law and order suffered as multiple political parties jockeyed for influence. Three prominent media owners were killed for unknown motives. Attacks on working journalists continued throughout the year, and there were reports of political groups torching newspapers to prevent distribution of news they did not like.

February 15, 2011 12:23 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Nigeria

Attacks on the Press 2010: Nigeria

Top Developments
• Two journalists murdered, another assaulted in ethnic violence.
Secrecy surrounds death of President Yar'Adua.

Key Statistic
7: Journalists kidnapped in restive southern region. All are freed.


Official secrecy surrounded the heart ailment that eventually claimed the life of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, sparking a debate over what constituted public information. Nigeria celebrated 50 years of nationhood, but its celebration was marred by a deadly bombing for which a Niger Delta militant group claimed responsibility. Amid a climate of ethnic and political violence, exacerbated by widespread impunity, at least two journalists were killed in direct relation to their work, while a third was slain under unclear circumstances. Another seven journalists and a media support worker were briefly kidnapped in two separate cases in the volatile oil-rich southern region.

February 15, 2011 12:22 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Pakistan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Pakistan

Top Developments
• Suicide bombings take devastating toll on media, killing, injuring dozens.
• Journalists face threats from all sides, notably Taliban and the ISI.

Key Statistic
8: Journalists killed in relation to their work in 2010, the highest figure in the world.


Pakistan was the deadliest nation for the press in 2010 as violence spread well beyond the Afghan border region. Eight journalists and one media support worker were killed in relation to their work and numerous others were injured, many in suicide bomb attacks.

February 15, 2011 12:21 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Philippines

Attacks on the Press 2010: Philippines

Top Developments
• Flawed procedures, witness intimidation, bribes mar Maguindanao prosecution.
• Aquino pledges reform, but two more journalists are murdered for their work.

Key Statistic
3rd: Ranking on CPJ's Impunity Index, reflecting one of the world's worst records in solving press murders.


Trial proceedings began in September for the first 19 defendants in the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao province, raising hopes that impunity's grip on the Philippines would finally be loosened. But in a special report issued in November, CPJ uncovered efforts to subvert the judicial process, including bribe offers to victims' families, and the use of intimidation and deadly violence against witnesses. CPJ's investigation also revealed deeply flawed forensic work and widespread lack of cooperation among law enforcement officials, both of which could hinder the prosecution.

February 15, 2011 12:20 AM ET

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

Attacks on the Press   |   Uganda

Attacks on the Press 2010: Uganda

Top Developments
• Electronic surveillance measure enacted; may chill news reporting.
• Court strikes down sedition law used against critical journalists.

Key Statistic
5: Journalists assaulted during clashes between security forces and members of the Buganda kingdom.


Authorities harassed and obstructed journalists covering two stories that shook the nation: a fire that destroyed a historic Buganda kingdom site and twin terror bombings in the capital. The press won an important legal victory as the Constitutional Court struck down a criminal sedition statute that had been used to silence critical journalists. But journalists faced new threats as the president signed a sweeping surveillance measure that could chill news reporting, while the administration drafted legislation that could expand regulatory powers over newspapers. Ruling party officials and supporters assaulted journalists covering opposition candidates in local balloting, an ill omen as the country prepared for the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections.

February 15, 2011 12:09 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ukraine

Attacks on the Press 2010: Ukraine

Top Developments
• Provincial reporters targeted in a series of attacks; editor reported missing.
• Television journalists continue to face heavy political influence.

Key Statistic
1: Mastermind identified in Gongadze murder. Prosecutors stir controversy by blaming only a dead official for the plot.


The disappearance of a critical editor, a series of violent attacks, and several instances of politicized government regulation fueled deteriorating press freedom conditions. Authorities brought charges against another suspect in the 2000 murder of editor Georgy Gongadze, but they ended their long investigation amid controversy by naming a dead official as the sole mastermind.

February 15, 2011 12:08 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   USA

Attacks on the Press 2010: United States

Top Developments
• U.S. military ignores call for probe into killings of 16 journalists in Iraq.
• Under Pearl Act, State Department will track press freedom worldwide.

Key Statistic
14: Journalists imprisoned by U.S. military forces for prolonged periods without charge between 2004 and 2010.


In two important advances, Congress passed legislation to track press freedom worldwide while military forces released an Iraqi journalist who had been held without charge for 17 months. But officials obstructed a photojournalist covering the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and reporters documenting military judicial proceedings at Guantánamo Bay, in Cuba. A U.S. military video, disclosed by the website WikiLeaks, raised questions as to whether U.S. troops acted properly when they shot and killed an Iraqi journalist and his assistant in 2007.

February 15, 2011 12:07 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press 2010: Uzbekistan

Top Developments
• State deploys analysts to build sweeping criminal defamation cases.
• Numerous regional and international news websites are blocked.

Key Statistic
6: Journalists in prison on December 1, the highest figure in the region.


Even as President Islam Karimov was calling for more "active" news reporting, his government was rolling out a new tactic designed to quash critical journalism. Using an obscure state agency to formulate the charges, Uzbek prosecutors arrested at least three journalists on vague allegations of defamation. In one of the cases, a photographer was convicted of insulting the whole of Uzbek citizenry with her images of life in rural Uzbekistan.

February 15, 2011 12:06 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2010: Venezuela

Top Developments
• Censorship spikes: RCTV banished again, newspapers barred from using crime images.
• New laws restrict Internet content, tighten control over broadcast licenses.

Key Statistic
1,300: Hours of presidential speeches that were aired between 1999 and 2010.


Using all the tools of power, President Hugo Chávez Frías continued his aggressive campaign to silence critical news media. In the waning days of a lame-duck National Assembly, the Chávez administration pushed through measures to restrict Internet content and tighten control over broadcast licenses. Relying on politicized courts, the government barred two major newspapers from publishing images of crime and violence in the run-up to September legislative elections. And through a series of politically motivated regulatory actions, the administration intimidated one critical broadcaster, Globovisión, and banished another, RCTV International.

February 15, 2011 12:05 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Vietnam

Attacks on the Press 2010: Vietnam

Top Developments
• In run-up to Communist Party Congress, authorities clamp down on Internet.
• Critical blogs targeted in hacking attacks; government complicity seen.

Key Statistic
5: Online journalists imprisoned on December 1, reflecting crackdown on Internet commentary.


Vietnam targeted online journalists in a clampdown on dissent ahead of a 2011 Communist Party Congress at which top government appointments and policies were to be determined. At least five journalistic bloggers were among dozens of activists arrested on national security-related charges, including "spreading propaganda against the state" and "abusing democratic freedoms." The government maintained some of the world's strictest Internet controls, which included blocks on Facebook and numerous Vietnamese-language websites, including those maintained by the exile-run, pro-democracy Viet Tan and human rights organizations critical of the government. Independent analysts found evidence of official involvement in hacking attacks on critical blogs and websites.

February 15, 2011 12:04 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2010: Yemen

Top Developments
• Special press and security courts are used to silence probing journalists.
• Redlines bar critical coverage of civil unrest, terrorism, corruption.

Key Statistic
29: Days that reporter Abulelah Shaea was held incommunicado after being seized by security agents.

The government pursued a widening array of repressive tactics, prompting many journalists to say that press freedom conditions had reached their lowest point since the unification of the country's north and south in 1990. Authorities continued to use long-standing practices of extrajudicial abduction, intimidation, threats, and crude censorship to control the news media. But as CPJ documented in a September special report, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government was also erecting an elaborate legal structure to further restrict coverage and provide a veneer of legitimacy for its actions.

February 15, 2011 12:03 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Zimbabwe

Attacks on the Press 2010: Zimbabwe

Top Developments
• Press makes incremental gains as five private publication licenses are granted.
• Police, ZANU-PF loyalists harass, assault independent journalists.

Key Statistic
0: Broadcast licenses issued to private outlets since 2001.


Regulators granted five private publishing licenses, the first in seven years, opening a window for press freedom in this long-oppressed nation. But police harassment, regulatory intransigence concerning private broadcast licenses, and the government's unwillingness to pursue legal reforms ensured that the opening remained but a crack.
February 15, 2011 12:02 AM ET
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