Attacks on the Press in 2013

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Asia

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 1:43 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Vietnam

Vietnam Tightens the Squeeze on Its Bloggers

A mushrooming blogosphere has challenged the state's media monopoly, drawing a heavy-handed bid to bring the Internet under government control. By Shawn W. Crispin

Blogger Pham Viet Dao attends a conference on social media in Hanoi on December 24, 2012. Dao was arrested on June 13, 2013, on accusations of anti-state activity. (Reuters/Nguyen Lan Thang)
Blogger Pham Viet Dao attends a conference on social media in Hanoi on December 24, 2012. Dao was arrested on June 13, 2013, on accusations of anti-state activity. (Reuters/Nguyen Lan Thang)

Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan

Afghan Journalists Steadfast as International Withdrawal Approaches

As they look toward the next era of uncertainty, reporters in Afghanistan express a sense of determination to build on what they have achieved. By Bob Dietz

An Afghan man marks his application for voter registration in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2013. Journalists' future may hinge on the presidential election scheduled for April 2014. (AP/Rahmat Gul)
An Afghan man marks his application for voter registration in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 16, 2013. Journalists' future may hinge on the presidential election scheduled for April 2014. (AP/Rahmat Gul)

Attacks on the Press   |   China

Journalists in Hong Kong and Taiwan Battle Beijing's Influence

Media owners' reluctance to draw China's disfavor imperils the ability of the Hong Kong and Taiwanese press to play a watchdog role. By a CPJ Contributor

Popular protests like this one in Taipei on January 1, 2013, helped derail a plan for a wealthy business tycoon with interests in China to buy Taiwan's largest newspaper. (AFP/Mandy Cheng)
Popular protests like this one in Taipei on January 1, 2013, helped derail a plan for a wealthy business tycoon with interests in China to buy Taiwan's largest newspaper. (AFP/Mandy Cheng)

Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Afghanistan

As the country moved toward the elections scheduled for April 2014, and international military and development aid decreased, journalists were under mounting pressure. Threats and harassment came from all sides—the government, the military, state security organizations, insurgent groups, and regional and ethnic power brokers seeking a return to power. While CPJ documented no killings of journalists in relation to their work in 2013, a report by a local press freedom organization found at least 41 anti-press violations in the first half of the year alone, including threats and attacks. Several female journalists reported leaving the profession over the year, citing pressure from their families in connection with threats from conservative religious groups. Broadcast media had the most influence in the country, but the Ministry of Communication announced mid-year that the broadcast spectrum was nearing saturation.

February 12, 2014 1:39 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Bangladesh

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Bangladesh

The climate of press freedom in Bangladesh rapidly deteriorated this year after a war crimes tribunal sentenced several members of an Islamist party to life imprisonment for crimes dating to the 1971 war of independence. Bloggers helped mobilize thousands of dissatisfied secularists to the streets in calling for the death penalty for those convicted. Thousands of Islamists and other opposition supporters subsequently took to the streets to protest the convictions and demand the arrests of bloggers they deemed atheists. Amid the tension, journalists and news outlets covering or commenting on the events were targeted with arrests, censorship, and violence from all sides. At least one blogger was killed, four bloggers were arrested, and several journalists were attacked this year. Journalists covering local corruption also remained vulnerable to attacks. In June, a court sentenced nine individuals to life imprisonment for the 2005 murder of journalist Gautam Das. Though it remained unclear if the convicted men were the masterminds of the murder, local journalists hailed the verdict as a landmark, the first time a Bangladeshi court successfully prosecuted the murder of a journalist.

February 12, 2014 1:38 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Burma

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Burma

Journalists reporting in Burma continued to face threats and obstacles despite widespread hope for a freer media environment with the transition from military to quasi-civilian rule. While existing restrictive laws perpetuated self-censorship, a new printing and publishing bill aimed to re-impose broad censorship guidelines and grant a newly created registrar sweeping powers to issue and revoke publishing licenses. Journalist groups protested the bill, saying its measures would undercut the press freedom guarantees enshrined in a separate media law being drafted with input from journalists. Both bills were still pending parliamentary approval in late year. In a significant shift marking the end of pre-publication censorship, authorities issued licenses to private newspapers allowing them to publish on a daily basis. Several journalists were threatened or assaulted while covering deadly Buddhist mob attacks on Muslim communities in March. A journalist was sentenced in December to three months in prison for alleged trespassing and defamation while covering a news story. Exile media groups known for their editorial independence faced uncertain futures because of donor funding cuts and rising competition from better-financed, state-linked publications.

February 12, 2014 1:37 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   China

Attacks on the Press in 2013: China

Despite expectations for greater transparency after President Xi Jinping took office in March, Beijing continued to try to suppress information on a broad range of issues. A CPJ report in March found that the government struggled to cope with ever more pervasive digital platforms that Chinese citizens used to express themselves. In September, authorities once again tightened social media controls. Under the new rules, people who posted comments deemed libelous and that were reposted 500 or more times faced defamation charges and up to three years in prison. Subsequently, hundreds of social media users including some journalists were arrested although most were released by the end of 2013. China ranked third on CPJ's annual census of journalists imprisoned around the world, behind only Turkey and Iran. Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist who was given a 10-year prison sentence in 2005, the first high-profile conviction for online activity, was released from prison in August, 15 months before the end of his term. CPJ research has shown that most jailed journalists serve their full sentences. A survey by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said reporting conditions had worsened over the past year, as the Chinese government "increasingly resorted to threats and intimidation against foreign media."

February 12, 2014 1:36 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   India

Attacks on the Press in 2013: India

Despite India's rising global profile, authorities used both antiquated and advanced techniques to threaten press freedom. One journalist remained imprisoned on anti-state charges, while the government implemented a surveillance system designed to monitor citizens' phone calls, text messages, and Internet communication, making it difficult for journalists to communicate privately with sources. India ranked second, behind only the United States, in the number of requests for user data made to Facebook and Google. Several journalists were attacked over the year, while at least two said they were assaulted by police. A female photojournalist was gang-raped while on assignment in Mumbai. In March, reporter Naveen Soorinje, who was imprisoned for documenting an assault in Karnataka, was released on bail, but the charges against him remained. Three journalists were killed in direct relation to their work, while at least three other journalist killings this year remain unsolved.

February 12, 2014 1:35 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Nepal

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Nepal

While Nepal dropped off CPJ’s 2013 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free, progress in the country remained tempered. The government led by then-Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai pressured prosecutors to drop their investigation into the 2004 murder of radio journalist Dekendra Thapa. While the police arrested five suspects in connection with the murder and began proceedings against them, relatives of the slain journalist cast doubts on authorities’ commitment to justice as four other suspects remained free. As protests ensued against Bhattarai, journalists were attacked and threatened, prompting several to flee their homes. Critical coverage of the judiciary also led to litigation against journalists. Authorities arrested a suspected mastermind in connection with the 2009 murder of reporter Uma Singh. The climate for journalists remained uncertain as Khil Raj Regmi, chief justice of the country’s Supreme Court, was appointed prime minister of an interim government to oversee parliamentary elections, and the Nepali Congress ousted the Maoists from power in November. UNESCO established a two-year project as part of the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in Nepal, one of the five pilot countries for the plan. The plan aims to increase the safety of journalists and end impunity in crimes against the press.

February 12, 2014 1:34 AM ET

2013

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