Attacks on the Press in 2013

Attacks on the Press   |   Swaziland

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Swaziland

Dubbed "the world's last absolute monarchy," the tiny, land-locked country teetered on the brink of bankruptcy while King Mswati III maintained tight control of news media and opposition voices. The king owned one of the two daily newspapers and employed the editor of the other as an adviser. Radio and television were also controlled by the state. Though Swazis readily accessed South African radio and television, South African newspapers entering Swaziland were carefully screened by authorities: If deemed critical of the king or government, all copies were purchased and destroyed. Self-censorship prevailed in the kingdom, where political parties are banned and critical voices within civil society and the media were silenced through legal or professional repercussions. Few dared challenge the government; the boards of state-owned companies such as the Swazi Observer Newspaper group kept their editors in check and, in turn, editors ensured that their reporters toed the line. A court sentenced the editor of the independent paper The Nation to a harsh fine in connection with his critical articles. He appealed to the Supreme Court and was free pending the appeal. In a positive development, parliament passed bills allowing for the creation of diverse TV and radio services, including community radio, and a commission to regulate broadcasting.

February 12, 2014 2:03 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Tanzania

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Tanzania

As public dissent grew in the lead-up to the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, attacks and threats against journalists rose. Police were believed to be the perpetrators in nearly a third of the cases. Unidentified assailants brutally attacked a veteran journalist in March, but authorities had not identified the motive, attackers, or mastermind in late year. The increase in threats and attacks occurred alongside a backdrop of anti-press legislation. CPJ identified 17 repressive media-related statutes, including a ban on publications the government considers seditious. For five years, Tanzanian authorities have pledged to address the legislation, but no changes had taken place in late year. CPJ found that the laws were used to induce self-censorship in the independent press. One paper, the critical weekly MwanaHalisi, was silenced indefinitely under the 1976 Newspaper Act.

February 12, 2014 2:02 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Uganda

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Uganda

Though attacks against the press diminished compared with recent years, authorities continued to crack down on journalists for critical coverage. Police were accused of being the perpetrators in a third of the assaults on journalists. The government instigated the longest arbitrary suspension of the press in recent years after police raided two dailies, The Monitor and Red Pepper, and silenced them for 10 days in connection with their coverage. Two radio stations at the same premises were also suspended. Police ignored for a week a court order allowing the dailies to resume publishing. In July, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, a newly appointed internal security minister, told the local press he would enforce stricter media regulation policies and said he would be monitoring the formerly suspended publications. Authorities continued to censor journalists, preventing them from covering public functions. In August, Parliament passed the Public Order Management Bill, which criminalizes public meetings without express police permission and is seen by local and international press freedom and civil society organizations as a tool to suppress opposition rallies and subsequent media coverage.

February 12, 2014 2:01 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Zambia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Zambia

Promises of a freer media environment by the Patriotic Front, which won election in 2011 after a campaign that pledged greater broadcast media freedom and a law promoting access to information, had yet to be fulfilled by late 2013. Journalists operated cautiously lest they fell afoul of thin-skinned authorities, and staff members at state-owned publications risked early retirement or redeployment into bureaucratic jobs for not toeing the party line. At least five journalists faced criminal charges in 2013; all of them had reported critically on the government. The newly established Independent Broadcasting Authority awarded private broadcast licenses, but its independence was questioned when President Michael Sata revoked certain licenses. Of the country’s three major newspapers, two were state-controlled and the Post, once highly regarded for its independence, supported the ruling party in 2013, leaving few outlets where journalists could report freely. The government targeted at least three critical websites over the year, forcing one of them to repeatedly move servers--a virtual game of cat-and-mouse.

February 12, 2014 2:00 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Zimbabwe

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Zimbabwe

Though general elections in July took place in a significantly more peaceful atmosphere than the 2008 vote, the news media remained dominated by state-owned outlets. Journalists and human rights defenders were frequent targets of physical attacks and brief detentions in the months leading up to the election, which renewed the 33-year grip on power of 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe, giving the ruling party a two-thirds majority which could allow it to make changes to the country's recently approved constitution. No journalists were detained at the time of the elections, but an observer mission of Southern African editors failed to receive media accreditation ahead of the vote. Authorities maintained a tight hold on radio, the principal means of communication for Zimbabweans, most of whom live in rural areas. Though two commercial, urban-based stations were licensed in mid-2012, community radio stations were blocked from the air, and calls for the licensing of additional commercial licenses fell on deaf ears. Despite new constitutional provisions that guarantee media freedom and civil liberties, repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Public Order and Security Act, and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, remained on the books.

February 12, 2014 1:59 AM ET

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Americas

Front-line reports and analytical essays by CPJ experts cover an array of topics of critical importance to journalists. Governments store transactional data and the content of journalists' communications. Media and money engage in a tug of war, with media owners reluctant to draw China's disfavor and advertisers able to wield surprising clout. In Syria, journalists are determined to distribute the news amid the chaos of conflict. In Vietnam, the government makes a heavy-handed bid to bring the Internet under control. And globally, eliminating witnesses has become an all too easy method of stymying justice when journalists are assassinated.

February 12, 2014 1:58 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Mexico

Gunmen Rule Neza and the Press on Outskirts of Mexico City

Politicians say there are no organized crime cartels in the capital's metropolitan area. Journalists know better, but they are afraid to report it. By Mike O'Connor

Police officers stand guard near a crime scene in Neza, on the outskirts of Mexico City, on January 16, 2011. (Reuters/Jorge Dan)

Attacks on the Press   |   Brazil

Violence and Judicial Censorship Mar Brazil's Horizon

The Brazilian government's concern for the safety of an American journalist stands in contrast to a dismal performance protecting its own reporters. By Carlos Lauría

Demonstrators clash with riot policemen during a protest in Rio de Janeiro's on June 17, 2013, against the billions of dollars spent preparing for soccer's World Cup and against an increase in mass transit fares.  (AFP/Tasso Marcelo)
Demonstrators clash with riot policemen during a protest in Rio de Janeiro's on June 17, 2013, against the billions of dollars spent preparing for soccer's World Cup and against an increase in mass transit fares. (AFP/Tasso Marcelo)

Attacks on the Press   |   Colombia

One Province Illustrates Colombia's Struggle with Impunity

The inability to solve journalist murders in Arauca feeds an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation for the media there. By John Otis

Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, Colombian police chief, writes a message for a campaign supporting FARC demobilization in Tame, Arauca province, on September 18, 2013. (Reuters/Jose Miguel Gomez)
Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, Colombian police chief, writes a message for a campaign supporting FARC demobilization in Tame, Arauca province, on September 18, 2013. (Reuters/Jose Miguel Gomez)

Attacks on the Press   |   Argentina

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Argentina

The long-running feud between the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and critical news outlets deepened. The Supreme Court ruled that provisions of a 2009 broadcast law that would require some media companies, most notably the critical media conglomerate Grupo Clarín, to divest holdings—in theory, to break up monopolies—were constitutional. Beyond the legislation, the climate remained polarized, with officials publicly berating Clarín and other media groups, and those outlets criticizing all administration activities. The government continued with its policy of punishing critical media outlets and rewarding favorable ones with official advertising, and appeared to extend its advertising war to the commercial realm by reportedly forbidding supermarkets to advertise in newspapers as part of a price-freezing measure intended to combat inflation. Critical media alleged the tactic was meant to further harm outlets that don't receive state advertising, a claim the government denied. President Kirchner, after 10 years of dominating Argentine politics along with her husband, the late President Néstor Kirchner, faced challenges to her government in late 2013. The president's party suffered significant defeats in congressional elections, judicial reforms failed, corruption allegations surfaced in the administration, and the president suffered health problems. Press freedom advocates were dismayed by a ruling on an Argentine defamation case by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights—part of the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States—that decided for the first time that a criminal sanction for defamation did not affect freedom of expression.

February 12, 2014 1:54 AM ET

2013

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