Attacks on the Press in 2013

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Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2013

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 2:25 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Cambodia, USA

Without Stronger Transparency, More Financial Crises Loom

The recent financial meltdown should be treated as a lesson on the importance of information transparency and the crucial role of a free press. By Michael J. Casey

Sharp swings in the stock market have led to questions about who stands to benefit from high-frequency trading. (AP/Richard Drew)

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Africa

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 2:14 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa

Pressure on Journalists Rises Along With Africa's Prospects

After a decade of unprecedented growth and development, the insistence on positive news remains a significant threat to press freedom in sub-Saharan Africa. By Mohamed Keita

A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)
A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Attacks on the Press   |   Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda

Advertising and Censorship in East Africa's Press

The printed word is thriving in parts of Africa, but advertisers' clout means they can often quietly control what is published. By Tom Rhodes

Kenyans read election coverage in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, the capital, on March 9, 2013. One reason that advertising revenue trumps circulation for East Africa's newspapers is that readers often share papers to save money. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Kenyans read election coverage in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, the capital, on March 9, 2013. One reason that advertising revenue trumps circulation for East Africa's newspapers is that readers often share papers to save money. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

Attacks on the Press   |   South Africa

Mandela's Legacy of Media Freedom Stands Its Ground

How robust are the institutional safeguards that underpin Nelson Mandela's vision of a strong and independent South African media? By Sue Valentine

Nelson Mandela, pictured in May 2011, sometimes accused critical black journalists of disloyalty during his presidency.  (AFP/Elmond Jiyane)
Nelson Mandela, pictured in May 2011, sometimes accused critical black journalists of disloyalty during his presidency. (AFP/Elmond Jiyane)

Attacks on the Press   |   Burundi

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Burundi

Burundi's climate of press freedom deteriorated under President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2013. In June, the president signed into law a severely restrictive bill that forces journalists to reveal sources and places heavy fines and prison sentences on coverage the government considers detrimental to state security or the local economy. In April, CPJ wrote an open letter to the president, calling the law an "affront to the Burundi Constitution," and highlighting specific articles especially restrictive for journalists. Several journalists were attacked over the year, some by police officers attempting to quell a weekly protest by reporters calling for the release of their imprisoned colleague, Bonesha FM correspondent Hassan Ruvakuki. In March, Ruvakuki was released from prison with no explanation. He had been sentenced to prison in November 2011 for "participating with a criminal group" and spent 463 days in jail.

February 12, 2014 2:10 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Violations of press freedom, including physical attacks on journalists, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and censorship across the country declined in 2013, compared with the previous year. Several journalists were attacked over the year; the eastern province of North Kivu, where fighting flared between government forces and rebel groups, was the most dangerous region for journalists, according to CPJ research. Local officials and rebels there censored broadcasters and harassed local and international journalists over coverage of the conflict. The state-run media regulatory agency suspended radio programs and journalists airing commentary critical of the authorities. Several soldiers were placed under investigation in connection with an attack on a community radio station in January. Although the reason for the attack was not clear, the station had aired several reports that criticized the military.

February 12, 2014 2:09 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Ethiopia

A year after the death of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn succeeded in preserving the repressive climate in Ethiopia. Several journalists faced interrogation or prosecution for writing about the late leader, his policies, and even his widow. One journalist, Temesghen Desalegn, former chief editor of the critical weekly Feteh, was charged in February with defaming the government in connection with his articles on Meles. Some reporters attempting to cover other sensitive topics, like anti-government protests and the forced eviction of farmers, were also detained and harassed, while others fled the country fearing arrest. The government did not disclose the health, whereabouts, or legal status of two journalists who have been in custody for seven years. Authorities banned two independent newspapers, accusing them of violating press regulations, as well as a private broadcaster which was reporting extensively on peaceful protests by Ethiopian Muslims. The country faced international condemnation over the imprisonment of award-winning journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, and Woubshet Taye, who were serving heavy terms on vague terrorism charges, but the Ethiopian government retaliated by imposing harsher conditions on them, including the threat of solitary confinement. Authorities continued to crack down on the online press by increasing its “technological capacity to filter, block, and monitor Internet and mobile phone communications,” according to an October report by Freedom House.

February 12, 2014 2:08 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Guinea

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Guinea

Anti-press attacks increased in Guinea in 2013 amid political unrest and inter-ethnic clashes in the run-up to the country's long-delayed legislative elections. The voting was finally held on September 28 and won by President Alpha Condé's party. Journalists were threatened and assaulted while covering pre-election activities, with some saying the assailants were security forces or political party supporters. Journalists were caught up in tension between supporters of Condé, mostly of the Malinke ethnicity, and opposition militants of the mainly Peul ethnicity. Some journalists were also accused of being spies for political parties. Government officials and security forces supportive of Condé shut down radio stations, suspended and detained their staff, and barred journalists from reporting on Condé's pre-election campaign tour. Though many journalists have been attacked in Guinea over the years, CPJ research shows that not one perpetrator of an anti-press attack has been held responsible since 2008.

February 12, 2014 2:07 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Gambia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Gambia

The government of President Yahya Jammeh sought to tighten its grip on the already weak independent press with detentions, criminal prosecutions, and the introduction of more repressive legislation. The National Intelligence Agency arbitrarily detained at least three reporters in connection with their work for prolonged periods of time. One remained in detention in late year. Authorities announced their intention to re-introduce statutory regulation of the press with a government-run Media Commission and criminalized online dissidence by passing a law imposing a harsh prison sentence on any individual, living in the country or abroad, who uses the Internet to criticize public officials. No new information surfaced on the whereabouts of journalist Ebrima “Chief” Manneh, who disappeared after being arrested by agency officers seven years ago. The government has made contradicting claims about Manneh’s whereabouts and health over the years, and has not complied with various international rulings ordering his release.

February 12, 2014 2:06 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Nigeria

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Nigeria

The government of President Goodluck Jonathan used legal tools as well as brutal means to clamp down on media coverage deemed critical of the government. Sensitive and dangerous topics for the press included coverage of high-level public corruption, the government's war against Boko Haram insurgents, and the political activities of the Jonathan administration. Regulatory agencies headed by Jonathan-appointed officials cracked down on radio commentary critical of the government, and banned a radio station in connection with its criticism of an official polio immunization campaign. Film regulators also banned an acclaimed documentary detailing a culture of impunity for public corruption. The administration criminally charged the independent newspaper Leadership over the publication of a memo allegedly written by the president on plans to increase gas prices and sabotage a merger of opposition political parties. Amid continuing military action against insurgents in the north, security forces also harassed a newspaper in connection with its investigative report on alleged extrajudicial detentions of terrorism suspects. The government amended the anti-terrorism law to include broadly defined offenses that criminalize some legitimate newsgathering activities, according to news reports. Nigeria appeared for the first time on CPJ's Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free.

February 12, 2014 2:05 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Somalia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Somalia

While the Somali government elected in 2012 attempted to gain more control and improve security, attacks on journalists continued. At least five reporters were attacked by militia groups loosely connected to the government, according to news reports. CPJ documented four journalists killed in direct relation to their work in Somalia, an improvement from 2012, which was the deadliest year on record with 12 journalists killed. In early 2013, the prime minister created a task force to investigate cases of killed journalists, but little had been done by the end of the year. The international community condemned serious flaws in the Somali justice system after a court imprisoned freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur for 66 days for interviewing the victim of an alleged rape who claimed security forces were the perpetrators. The staff of a critical daily in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland was harassed over the year: The director was attacked, the paper temporarily suspended in June and again indefinitely in December, and the editor and director briefly jailed on defamation charges. The charges were later dropped. A new media law considered by local journalists as progressive was passed in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in December.

February 12, 2014 2:04 AM ET

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

Attacks on the Press   |   Brazil

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Brazil

Brazil played an increasingly dominant role in the international arena, but its record on press freedom at home continued to disappoint free-expression advocates. As the deadly violence that surged over the past three years continued, three journalists were murdered in direct retaliation for their work in 2013. Brazil's ranking worsened on CPJ's Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are killed regularly and authorities fail to solve the crimes. In positive developments, authorities achieved convictions for three murders of journalists. The gunmen in the 2010 murder of radio journalist and blogger Francisco Gomes de Medeiros and the 2011 murder of journalist Edinaldo Filgueira were convicted and sentenced to prison. In a rare example of full justice, all of the perpetrators, including the mastermind, were brought to justice in the 2002 murder of newspaper publisher Domingos Sávio Brandão Lima. Reporters faced attacks and threats, and, in one case, had to flee the country temporarily, while others were arrested and targeted during anti-government protests that swept the country in the second half of the year. President Dilma Rousseff made international headlines after information leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that Brazilian electronic communications had been intercepted by the NSA. She responded by calling for a bill to regulate the country's Internet use in a way that would make it less vulnerable to spying, a move that, if implemented, could have widespread consequences for the global infrastructure of the Internet. Internet companies continued to receive numerous requests from Brazilian courts to remove content, as the media faced judicial censorship and hefty fines in defamation suits. After being initially silent on the issue, Brazil supported and defended the Inter-American Human Rights System from an attack led by a bloc of countries that sought to neutralize its work.

February 12, 2014 1:53 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Colombia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Colombia

Journalists reporting on sensitive issues like the country’s decades-long armed conflict, crime, and corruption faced renewed violence and intimidation. A journalist at Colombia’s leading newsmagazine narrowly survived an assassination attempt, while reporters throughout the country were repeatedly threatened, and in some cases forced to flee their homes and the country. One journalist and one media support worker were murdered in direct retaliation for their work. The violence caused reporters outside the major urban centers to self-censor for fear of their lives. Meanwhile, journalists covering the months-long anti-government demonstrations by peasant farmers in northern Catatumbo were violently targeted by all sides. Justice continued to progress haltingly in the five-year investigation into an illegal government espionage program that targeted critical journalists, among others, as the Supreme Court dropped charges against the former head of the National Intelligence Agency and another court released an official of the agency who had been previously convicted, according to news reports. Seven former secret police detectives were sentenced to preventive detention on charges of “psychologically torturing” and anonymously threatening journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, one of the espionage victims, for her coverage of the 1999 murder of a journalist. In a positive development, a criminal defamation conviction against editor Luis Agustín González was overturned by the Supreme Court. As President Juan Manuel Santos’ government continued peace negotiations with the leftist guerrilla organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a government-created commission reported that Colombia’s more than 50-year conflict has killed at least 220,000 people, the vast majority of them noncombatants.

February 12, 2014 1:52 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Cuba

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Cuba

To complement gradual economic and political reforms, Cuba made small, but mostly symbolic openings in the press freedom landscape in 2013, and impact for the independent media was minimal. One exception was legislation easing exit visa regulations that was passed in 2012 but implemented in 2013. The law allowed critical bloggers and political dissidents to travel internationally for the first time in decades. While abroad, prominent critical blogger Yoani Sánchez announced plans to launch a broad-based news publication upon her return to Cuba. In January, international analysts detected activity on the long-awaited, Venezuelan-financed, fiber-optic cable project, but high-speed Internet was still not available to the average Cuban. Later in the year, the government announced the opening of 100 public Internet centers, but content was filtered and the hourly rate prohibitively expensive for most citizens. A journalist was freed after spending seven months in prison in relation to his reporting. Though no journalists were imprisoned as of December 1, the government continued its practice of short-term detentions. Raúl Castro said he would step down as president in 2018, setting a date for the beginning of a post-Castro Cuba.

February 12, 2014 1:51 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ecuador

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Ecuador

Bolstered by a landslide re-election, President Rafael Correa continued his offensive against Ecuador's critical press. His victory allowed him a significant win: the approval of a communications law that establishes regulation of editorial content and gives authorities the power to impose arbitrary sanctions and censor the press, according to CPJ research. At least one investigative newsmagazine shut down after the passage of the law, though economic concerns were also at issue. But while the president battered the press at home, he ran up against challenges abroad. In a serious blow to Correa, the Organization of American States voted to discard proposals introduced by Ecuador that would seriously weaken the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression. Although none of these proposals passed, a last-minute change to the resolution meant the debate would be allowed to continue. Local press freedom organizations documented dozens of anti-press violations throughout the year, including attacks, threats, harassment, obstruction, and arbitrary lawsuits.

February 12, 2014 1:50 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Guatemala

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Guatemala

Journalists covering sensitive issues like crime and corruption faced a climate of increased intimidation and violence in 2013. One journalist was killed under unclear circumstances. CPJ continues to investigate to determine if the killing was work-related. Another journalist survived an assassination attempt, and the owner, staff, and website of the daily elPeriódico, which is known for its investigations of government corruption, were repeatedly targeted with threats, intimidation, and attacks. The country closely followed the dramatic prosecution of General José Efraín Rios Montt, the former military leader of Guatemala, on allegations of human rights violations during part of the country’s decades-long civil war, when press freedom was severely restricted. His historic conviction was overturned, and the future of the case was uncertain, with Rios Montt under house arrest. The private office in Guatemala City of the special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, was broken into in unclear circumstances. The local press freedom group CERIGUA documented at least 54 cases of attacks on the press in 2013, many of which were concentrated in the department of Guatemala, where the capital city is situated. In light of growing anti-press violations, the government announced the creation of a protection mechanism for journalists who have been threatened.

February 12, 2014 1:49 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Honduras

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Honduras

The Honduran press continued to face violence and intimidation as the country struggled with pervasive crime and general lawlessness. Journalists who covered sensitive topics like drug trafficking, government corruption, and land conflicts were threatened and attacked. A prominent radio talk show host, Aníbal Barrow, was abducted from his car and found murdered weeks later. Authorities said they were investigating to determine if the killing was related to the journalist's work. But the climate of impunity persisted in Honduras, with allegations of law enforcement engaging in corruption and forming police death squads. Allegations also surfaced that journalists engaged in extortion. A standoff between the country's main media companies and President Porfirio Lobo over a proposed telecommunications law was averted when both sides agreed that the press would regulate its own content. The governing party's candidate, Juan Orlando Hernández, was declared the winner of presidential elections in late year, but the second place candidate, Xiomara Reyes de Castro, contested the results, bringing back to the surface intense polarization that has lingered since her husband was ousted in a coup d'état in 2009.

February 12, 2014 1:48 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Mexico

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Mexico

The climate of press freedom in Mexico, despite a new president, remained perilous. Although President Enrique Peña Nieto gave final approval to a measure adopted at the end of Felipe Calderón's term that gives federal authorities broader jurisdiction to investigate crimes against freedom of expression, the special prosecutor's office designated to handle such investigations dragged its feet in exercising its new powers. Finally, in August, the prosecutor officially took on its first case, although it had not charged or prosecuted anyone for a journalist's murder in late year. Meanwhile, the press corps continued to be violently targeted as competing drug cartels and law enforcement and the military battled throughout the country. Media outlets were attacked, press freedom organizations threatened, and reporters abducted. At least three journalists were killed in 2013 under unclear circumstances. In the face of such violence, media outlets in areas controlled by cartels turned to self-censorship. Following in the footsteps of other besieged outlets, the Saltillo edition of the daily Zócalo published an editorial that said it would no longer cover organized crime, as a way to protect its staff. Mexico City, long considered a refuge from the violence in the rest of the country, experienced the encroachment of organized crime. Four journalists covering protests against education reforms were jailed, and two of them were held for five days before being released on exorbitant bail, according to news reports. Media analysts welcomed a communications bill that they said would increase competition and open up broadcast ownership.

February 12, 2014 1:47 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Peru

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Peru

The climate of press freedom in Peru remained much the same as 2012, with reporters being targeted with violence and defamation suits for reporting on local corruption. While no journalists were imprisoned, two were convicted on criminal defamation charges and received suspended prison sentences. A bill that eliminated jail terms for defamation has remained stalled in Congress since mid-2011. Journalists covering widespread protests of a mining project in northern Peru were targeted with violence and intimidation by all sides in the conflict. Journalists and news outlets reporting on corruption and organized crime were also targeted in non-fatal attacks. One journalist was killed in unclear circumstances. CPJ continues to investigate whether the murder was work-related. Past murders of journalists remained unsolved, and prosecutors appealed the acquittal last year of the former mayor of the city of Coronel Portillo in the 2004 murder of radio journalist Alberto Rivera Fernandez. Human rights groups and journalists raised concerns about the implications of a bill that would criminalize the denial of terrorist crimes, a cybercrime law that criminalized some Internet speech, and the move by the country's leading daily to buy a media company that resulted in its owning 78 percent of the newspaper market.

February 12, 2014 1:46 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   USA

Attacks on the Press in 2013: United States

Press freedom in the United States dramatically deteriorated in 2013, a special report by CPJ found. The Obama administration's policy of prosecuting officials who leak classified information to the press intensified with the sentencing of Chelsea Manning (then known as Pvt. Bradley Manning) to 35 years in prison and the indictment of NSA consultant Edward Snowden. As part of its investigations into earlier leaks, the Justice Department revealed it had secretly subpoenaed the phone records of nearly two dozen Associated Press telephone lines and the emails and phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen. The two cases, and language in the Rosen subpoena that suggested the journalist could be criminally charged for receiving the information, provoked widespread criticism. The backlash resulted in the drafting of revised Justice Department guidelines on press subpoenas and a renewed debate in the Senate of a federal shield law that would allow journalists greater protection for their sources. As the debate moved forward in the Senate, a federal appeals court rejected an appeal by New York Times reporter James Risen in his long-term effort to protect a confidential source, setting up a likely Supreme Court showdown. Snowden's leak of a still unknown quantity of classified information on secret surveillance programs spurred both a national and international outcry and, after a report that Al-Jazeera's communications had allegedly been spied on, caused journalists to fear even more for their sources. The secrecy surrounding the surveillance programs echoed a pervasive lack of transparency and openness across government agencies where, despite President Barack Obama's promise to head the most open government in history, officials routinely refused to talk to the press or approve Freedom of Information Act requests. Journalists faced limitations covering national security-related trials, in cases of alleged terrorism at Guantánamo Bay and in the court-martial of Manning in Virginia.

February 12, 2014 1:45 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Venezuela

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Venezuela

A climate of uncertainty and tension surrounded the death of President Hugo Chávez after his tightly guarded struggle with cancer and the election of his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro. Coverage of both events resulted in widespread attacks on and harassment of journalists. The government's campaign against critical broadcaster Globovisión continued with the eighth sanction against the TV network in eight years, this time regarding a report that questioned the legality of postponing the inauguration of the then-ailing Chávez. After years of harassment, the broadcaster's owner sold the company to businessmen rumored to have close ties to the government, and the station subsequently changed its editorial tone. In a move that critics described as unconstitutional, Maduro signed a decree creating the Strategic Center for Security and Protection of the Fatherland, or CESPPA, which he said would protect the country from outside threats. But journalists and press freedom groups said it gave the state vast powers that would be used to intimidate and censor the media. His government also targeted journalists, websites and Internet service providers in an attempt to suppress the country's grim economic news. The government also made good on its long-term threat and officially withdrew from the American Convention on Human Rights, a cornerstone of the human rights system of the Organization of American States.

February 12, 2014 1:44 AM ET

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

Attacks on the Press   |   Pakistan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Pakistan

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won general elections in May, though the vote was marred by violence, including bomb blasts targeting polling stations. The Pakistani media's nonstop election coverage made news organizations full-fledged partners in the democratic process, intrinsic to the first civilian transfer of power after the completion of a five-year term by a democratically elected government. At least five journalists were killed this year--fewer than in 2012. One was a targeted killing. CPJ continues to investigate the killings of three other journalists in unclear circumstances, two of whom were Baluch. Legislative action stemming from a March conference on the U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity had yet to materialize, though the government repeated its commitment to enacting legislation. Three correspondents--from The New York Times, The Hindu, and Press Trust of India--were expelled from Pakistan in 2013. The Hindu and PTI were eventually allowed to replace their staff members.

February 12, 2014 1:33 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Philippines

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Philippines

Violence and threats against journalists, particularly in provincial areas, remained widespread as President Benigno Aquino's vow to end impunity in media murders went unfulfilled during his third year in office. At least three journalists were killed in 2013, one of whom was radio reporter Fernando "Nanding" Solijon. A police officer was later identified as a suspect and placed under house arrest. At least six other reporters were killed in 2013. CPJ is investigating their killings to determine whether they were related to the journalists' work. Authorities took a small step toward combating impunity by convicting the gunman in the 2011 murder of journalist Gerardo Ortega, but the process was undermined by the release of the case's two suspected masterminds, including the ex-governor of Palawan province. The Maguindanao massacre trial for the 2009 killings of 32 journalists and media workers failed to convict any of 197 suspects after nearly four years of legal proceedings. Reforms to the criminal justice system, including new mechanisms to expedite priority cases, failed to break the trial's procedural deadlock. At least four journalists were killed and six went missing in the huge typhoon that hit the Philippines in November.

February 12, 2014 1:32 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Sri Lanka

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Sri Lanka

Journalists and news outlets working outside government-approved news media remained under constant pressure and faced attacks even as Sri Lanka prepared to host the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay slammed Sri Lanka's rights record during a visit to the country, saying the government had become increasingly repressive toward the press and critical voices. Earlier in the year, authorities introduced a draft media code in parliament that would impose harsh restrictions on journalists' ability to report freely. It was withdrawn after criticism. Local journalists said the code would further the self-censorship that was already pervasive. The government showed no political will to address its record of perfect impunity in nine murders of journalists during the past decade. Cartoonist and columnist Prageeth Eknelygoda remained unaccounted for after disappearing in 2010.

February 12, 2014 1:31 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Thailand

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Thailand

Thailand's clampdown on press and Internet freedoms continued in 2013 as large anti-government street demonstrations undermined political stability. Broadcast journalists were threatened with arrest by authorities for live streaming protest speeches. At least two local and one foreign reporter were assaulted by protesters over perceived pro-government bias in their coverage. Authorities continued to crack down on coverage deemed critical of the royal family by sentencing newsmagazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to 11 years in prison and banning a political documentary on the grounds that its title could be construed as critical of the monarchy. Amid an outcry, the Ministry of Culture later lifted the censorship order, saying it had made a "technical mistake." Political cartoonist Somchai Katanyutanan faced defamation charges over comments he posted on Facebook about a speech Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra made in Mongolia. The offices of his newspaper, Thai Rath, were later attacked by unknown assailants. Thai Public Broadcasting Service political editor Sermsuk Kasitpradit was investigated in connection with comments he made on Facebook speculating on a possible military coup. Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap then warned social media users that clicking "like" or sharing online comments deemed a threat to national security could be construed as criminal acts punishable by imprisonment.

February 12, 2014 1:30 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Vietnam

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Vietnam

The Vietnam government's campaign of repression against online journalists intensified this year. Sixteen of the 18 journalists behind bars had published blogs or contributed to online news publications, according to CPJ's annual prison census conducted December 1. In January, a group of five independent bloggers were sentenced to long prison terms and years of house arrest on anti-state charges related to their journalism. Three other bloggers, Truong Duy Nhat, Pham Viet Dao, and Dinh Nhat Uy, were detained on charges of "abusing democratic freedoms," a criminal offense punishable by seven years' imprisonment under the penal code. In October, Uy was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence and one year of house arrest on the charges, the first time a blogger was convicted specifically for using Facebook. Authorities used at least three vague laws to harass and jail journalists. A new decree further restricted online freedoms, barring bloggers from linking to foreign news sites, among other provisions. The law also aimed to make global Internet companies complicit in the government's online crackdown by requiring them to reveal the identity of any of their services' users perceived to be in violation of Vietnamese law.

February 12, 2014 1:29 AM ET

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Europe & Central 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 1:28 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Azerbaijan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Azerbaijan

As Azerbaijan prepared to assume the 2014 chairmanship of the Council of Europe—the largest European intergovernmental human rights and democracy organization—the authoritarian regime of President Ilham Aliyev shamelessly trampled on press freedom at home. The authorities continued to stifle critical voices, target free expression on the Web, and sentence reporters to lengthy prison terms. A local journalist was barred from leaving the country to pick up his journalism prize in Norway, while dozens of foreign media personnel were declared persona non grata in Azerbaijan. The harassment, including by the government-affiliated press, of investigative journalist Khadija Ismailova went unpunished. Aliyev extended criminal defamation laws to the Internet and tightened funding restrictions for domestic NGOs, including press freedom organizations, despite a domestic and international outcry. In June, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso offered Aliyev public support instead of holding the leader responsible for human rights and press freedom violations in his country. In October, the authoritarian leader was re-elected to his third term after the Central Elections Commission denied registration to opposition candidate Rustam Ibragimbekov.

February 12, 2014 1:26 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Belarus

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Belarus

The authoritarian regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko made a few concessions this year while trying to improve relations with the U.S. and the European Union. Authorities reversed their repressive stance in several high-profile cases, including dropping criminal defamation charges against one journalist and allowing Irina Khalip, a reporter serving a suspended jail term, to travel outside Belarus. The KGB also announced that it would not file charges against a journalist who was accused of complicity in an illegal border crossing in what became known as the "teddy bear case." Critics of the government warned the EU that Lukashenko was not implementing liberal reforms but merely trading "hostages" in exchange for the EU's easing of political and economic sanctions. Reports by a local press freedom group, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, supported the accusations: Authorities continued to harass Khalip, detained independent journalists, and denied accreditation to critical broadcasters and several local journalists. A court declared that a press photo album contained extremist materials and ordered it destroyed. Lukashenko instructed KGB's digital arm, the Operative Analytical Center, to intensify its control over the Web, saying that the media and social networks had the capacity to destabilize the country.

February 12, 2014 1:25 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Hungary

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Hungary

Hungary's record of press freedom and human rights deteriorated in 2013, resulting in calls from some European lawmakers to suspend the country's voting rights in the European Union. Authorities adopted controversial changes to the constitution in March, including a provision limiting pre-election political advertising solely to broadcasters--most of which are controlled by or affiliated with allies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The amendments also curtailed the powers of Hungary's Constitutional Court by taking away its right to strike down unconstitutional laws. After news outlets tried to investigate allegations of government corruption, lawmakers introduced amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, restricting the amount of government data that individuals and nongovernmental groups, including media outlets, could access. In August, Orban faced criticism from press freedom advocates after he nominated an ally of his party, Fidesz, to lead the national Media Authority, which regulates all domestic and international media--including print, broadcast, and the Internet--as well as their publishers and service providers. In November, the Hungarian Parliament adopted the criminalization of libel, two weeks after the amendment was proposed by lawmakers.

February 12, 2014 1:24 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Italy

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Italy

In 2013, at least four journalists were convicted of libel in Italy, one of the few European Union states where defamation is still a criminal offense. In May, a Milan magistrate found three journalists guilty of libel and sentenced them to prison. In a separate case, a 79-year-old editor was sentenced to house arrest in October in connection with at least eight libel convictions against him between 2007 and 2012. The convictions were related to his articles and commentaries on public life in Italy, focusing on public figures involved in corruption cases. The independent newspaper La Stampa was attacked twice with explosive devices. Journalists continued to face threats and physical attacks from extremists and organized crime. According to OSSIGENO per l'Informazione, a local press freedom watchdog, scores of journalists received threats from unidentified persons throughout the year; several of them lived under police protection as a result.

February 12, 2014 1:23 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Kazakhstan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Kazakhstan

The overall climate of press freedom continued to deteriorate although authorities took a step forward in combating impunity in one anti-press attack. Four individuals were convicted and sentenced to jail, and one more suspect was awaiting his trial at year's end in relation to an April 2012 attack on journalist Lukpan Akhmedyarov, but no mastermind was named or brought to justice. In February, authorities upheld verdicts ordering dozens of critical news outlets to be shut or blocked domestically on accusations of spreading extremism. As if unsatisfied by the ban, prosecutors continued to harass journalists with the now-outlawed independent newspaper Respublika and barred them from practicing journalism. Citing technical violations, authorities ordered at least three other critical newspapers to suspend publishing. According to the Almaty-based press freedom group Adil Soz, the unfounded and illegal ban on dozens of news outlets, intimidation of individual journalists, unsolved violence, hefty fines, and anti-press freedom laws cemented self-censorship among local reporters. During his June visit to Kazakhstan, British Prime Minister David Cameron tried to discuss these and other human rights abuses with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, but the Kazakh leader publicly told Cameron “not to lecture Kazakhstan.”

February 12, 2014 1:22 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Kyrgyzstan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Kyrgyzstan

While President Almazbek Atambayev urged the state council in March to enforce rule of law and guarantee the protection of human rights, he demonstrated little political will to bring about such changes. Authorities showed no intent to revive the Uzbek-language media that thrived in southern Kyrgyzstan prior to the June 2010 conflict, in which clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. Broadcasting in the largest minority language remained limited--only one broadcaster produced news in Uzbek. While access to the independent regional website Ferghana News was restored by most Internet service providers, the Kyrgyz government failed to repeal the June 2011 ban that recommended the outlet be blocked in connection with its coverage of the 2010 conflict. As a result, fear remained that authorities could legally block the website at any time. In May, Atambayev signed a vaguely worded anti-extremism bill that his critics said could be used to target free expression on the Web. Three years after the 2010 ethnic conflict, injustice continued to impair press freedom and human rights. The Kyrgyz leader publicly declared his commitment to revisit the case of imprisoned reporter Azimjon Askarov, but no action followed: Prosecutors failed to investigate the case even after new evidence emerged in Askarov's defense.

February 12, 2014 1:21 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Russia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Russia

While preparing to host the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia continued to pressure journalists and human rights defenders covering sensitive issues. Authorities intensified their squeeze on Internet speech and upping their anti-press rhetoric. Impunity in anti-press violence remained largely unaddressed; one journalist died as a consequence of a previous brutal attack, and another was murdered in the volatile North Caucasus region bordering Sochi. A Dutch photojournalist was denied a Russian visa, and a Norwegian television crew was obstructed in retaliation for their Sochi coverage. One editor was attacked, one parliament member threatened two journalists, and at least two journalists were imprisoned when CPJ conducted its annual prison census on December 1. Despite initial hopes, the retrial of several suspects in the 2006 murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was at a stalemate at year's end. But Russian authorities took an important step toward defeating impunity in the country: One suspect in the 2000 murder of another Novaya Gazeta journalist, Igor Domnikov, was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.

February 12, 2014 1:20 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Tajikistan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Tajikistan

Though a new media bill was signed into law, the legislation failed to decriminalize insulting the president or alleviate other repressive measures, and had no immediate effect on the climate of press freedom ahead of the November presidential vote. To pave the way for a smooth re-election of Emomali Rahmon to a fourth term in office, authorities continued to gag critical voices by using a set of repressive tactics: intimidation of journalists by security services, denial of accreditation, and exhaustive litigation. The state communications agency ordered Internet service providers to block access to news websites and social networking sites, including Facebook and YouTube. Two independent regional broadcasters accused the authorities of jamming their satellite signal at least three times during the year. In November, Rahmon was declared a winner of another seven-year term in office; his rival quit the race, citing obstruction by the elections commission.

February 12, 2014 1:19 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Turkey

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Turkey

For the second year in a row, Turkey was the world's leading jailer of the press, with 40 journalists behind bars, according to CPJ's annual prison census. Authorities continued to harass and censor critical voices, firing and forcing the resignation of almost 60 reporters in connection with their coverage of anti-government protests in Gezi Park in June. The government tried to censor coverage of sensitive events, threatened to restrict social media, and, in one case, used social media to wage a smear campaign against a journalist. Peace negotiations between the government and the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, did not result in the expected release of Kurdish journalists. Legal amendments undertaken by the government did not result in meaningful reform of anti-press laws. In March, the Turkish Parliament began examining a bill known as the "fourth reform package," aimed at aligning the country's laws with international standards. The bill, adopted in September, introduced modest advancements, such as limiting the scope of a provision of the anti-terror law—"making terrorist propaganda"—that has been used against journalists, especially those who had reported on opposition parties. But the amendments did not address one of the most problematic articles of the penal code—"membership of an armed organization"—under which more than 60 percent of the imprisoned journalists in Turkey as of December 1, 2013, were charged. The jailing of journalists, the conflation of criticism with terrorism, and the government's heated anti-press rhetoric, which emboldened prosecutors to go after critics, marred Turkey's press freedom record and thwarted its aspirations to be regarded as a regional leader and democratic model.

February 12, 2014 1:18 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ukraine

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Ukraine

Despite its status as the 2013 chairman of the human rights and security agency the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Ukraine did little to promote press freedom in the region. Local reporters expressed doubt about the editorial independence of news outlets, as the owners of a critical broadcaster and a large media holding were replaced amid controversy. Several journalists also reported being threatened or harassed in connection with their coverage. At least 101 journalists were assaulted during the year, with police accused of participating in several of the attacks, local press freedom groups reported. In May, two journalists were attacked in front of police officers who failed to intervene. The official inaction spurred local demonstrations and an international outcry, leading to the assailants being given suspended prison terms four months later. While the conviction and life term handed in January to the killer of online journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000 was hailed as a milestone on the road to justice, CPJ and others continued to push for the mastermind to be brought to justice. At year's end, as the nation plunged into a weeks-long political crisis over the government's failure to sign an association agreement with the European Union, two other brutal assaults against the press triggered nationwide protests and an international outcry: On December 1, riot police brutally attacked and beat at least 51 local and international journalists while dispersing protests in the capital. Later that month, investigative reporter Tetyana Chornovol was hospitalized and diagnosed with a concussion and multiple head injuries after being violently assaulted by at least three men.

February 12, 2014 1:17 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   UK

Attacks on the Press in 2013: United Kingdom

The United Kingdom's tradition of an unfettered news media was marred by several developments in 2013. Parliamentary debate over recommendations from the 2012 Leveson Inquiry to address unethical behavior by media concluded with the creation of a royal charter that critics feared would enable political interference in press regulation and set a bad example for oppressive governments worldwide. A counterproposal by several newspaper leaders giving more power to the industry was rejected by the government, but publishers stalled execution of the official plan by creating a "tough" independent regulator. Though a bill to give police and security services greater ability to monitor Internet use—labeled the "snooper's charter" by its critics—was shelved, there were repeated revelations of mass surveillance by the U.S. and U.K. governments. The destruction of Guardian hard drives, the detention of David Miranda (who assisted the newspaper's coverage of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden) and a parliamentary grilling of Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger raised concerns internationally over intimidation of the press. Several journalists received threats from sectarian groups in Northern Ireland, and the 12-year-old unsolved murder of crime reporter Martin O'Hagan was set back when the prosecution announced that testimony of a key witness could not serve as evidence. In a positive development, the long-awaited Defamation Act reforming the U.K.'s plaintiff-friendly libel laws came into being.

February 12, 2014 1:16 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Uzbekistan

Following an established trend, authoritarian Uzbek leader Islam Karimov promised to address journalists' concerns but did not follow through by ending the repressive climate for the press in the country. The decades-long harassment against government critics has virtually wiped out the media landscape, forcing the domestic and international community to rely on rumors or leaked diplomatic cables to get information on topics including the aging leader's health or his reaction to international events. At least four journalists remained in jail in late 2013, where they were allegedly tortured and denied appropriate medical care. Human rights activists, including those in exile, also faced official harassment and prosecution after reporting on corruption and abuses in Uzbekistan. One exiled human rights activist, Nadezhda Atayeva, was sentenced to seven years in absentia on embezzlement charges after reporting on human rights abuses. One journalist, Sergei Naumov, was jailed on fabricated charges of hooliganism just days after an Uzbek official denied jailing critics and assured the U.N. Human Rights Council that authorities were complying with international human rights standards. But this soon became hard to verify: Citing official obstruction to its work, the International Committee of the Red Cross publicly announced in April that it had terminated visits to Uzbek prisons.

February 12, 2014 1:15 AM ET

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Middle East & North Africa

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 1:14 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Syria

Syrian Journalists Strive to Report, Despite Shifting Dangers

They call themselves citizen journalists, media workers, or media activists. Amid the chaos of conflict, they are determined to gather and distribute the news. By María Salazar-Ferro

Journalists Bryn Karcha, center, of Canada, and Toshifumi Fujimoto, right, of Japan, run for cover with an unidentified fixer in Aleppo's district of Salaheddine on December 29, 2012. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)
Journalists Bryn Karcha, center, of Canada, and Toshifumi Fujimoto, right, of Japan, run for cover with an unidentified fixer in Aleppo's district of Salaheddine on December 29, 2012. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Hassan Rouhani and the Hope for More Freedom in Iran

The new president may have limited power to enact change, but the practical needs for communications technology may work in favor of a freer press. By D. Parvaz

In his early months in office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, pictured in Tehran June 17, 2013, focused primarily on foreign affairs. (Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost)
In his early months in office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, pictured in Tehran June 17, 2013, focused primarily on foreign affairs. (Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost)

Attacks on the Press   |   Bahrain

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Bahrain

Despite King Hamad’s praise for the press as the “cornerstone of human rights and a mirror of our fledgling democracy,” the Bahraini government continued to crack down on anyone challenging the official narrative. Journalists covering opposition protests were harassed, detained, and deported, while some were attacked by opposition protesters who considered them biased. The government arrested at least three bloggers and photographers in the lead-up to a major opposition protest on August 14. A court upheld the acquittal of a policewoman accused of torturing a journalist in 2011. Authorities continued to clamp down on online expression by blocking websites, infiltrating social media accounts, prosecuting citizens who insulted officials, and considering restrictions on Internet-based telecommunications services. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdel Imam, convicted on anti-state charges, was forced to flee into exile after hiding for two years from Bahraini authorities.

February 12, 2014 1:11 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Egypt

The deeply polarized Egyptian press was battered by an array of repressive tactics throughout 2013, from the legal and physical intimidation during the tenure of former President Mohamed Morsi to the widespread censorship by the military-backed government that replaced him. Morsi and his supporters pushed through a repressive constitution, used politicized regulations, pursued retaliatory criminal cases, and employed physical intimidation of critics. After his ouster, the military-led government shut down pro-Morsi news media and obstructed coverage supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and the toppled president. Within three months, at least five journalists were killed and dozens detained without charges. At least 10 television stations and news outlets were raided, and at least five journalists remained behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual prison census. In September, the interim president appointed a 50-member committee to amend Egypt's 2012 Constitution. The committee produced a draft that would ease several press restrictions, including limiting the scope of criminal prosecution of journalists. The draft will be put to a referendum in mid-January 2014.

February 12, 2014 1:10 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Iran

Iran remained one of the most censored countries in the world. In the lead-up to the June 2013 presidential elections, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government pre-emptively arrested journalists, banned publications, harassed family members of exiled journalists, and brought the Internet to a slow crawl. Reformist journalists were not the only targets, as various regime factions fought among themselves and attempted to silence their rivals. International journalists had difficulty acquiring visas, and those who did were often subject to strict supervision on the ground. The government said its crackdown on the press was necessary to unravel a foreign conspiracy led by the BBC to undermine the Islamic Republic. But Iranian citizens began to voice hope that a new era of reform would begin with the election of a more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and his apparent support from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It was not clear in late year whether that hope would manifest into greater press freedom in the country, and the revolving doors of Iran’s prisons continued to turn.

February 12, 2014 1:09 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Iraq

In a 2006 book, the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid summed up the future of Iraq as ghamidh, meaning “unclear” or “ambiguous” in Arabic. Seven years later, uncertainty continued to exacerbate the threats that journalists faced. Newspaper offices were attacked by unknown assailants, and journalists were threatened, assaulted, and detained. At least 10 journalists were killed in 2013, but the assailants and their motives were frequently unclear. For all the uncertainty and ambiguity, one truth remained clear: Central government officials and Kurdish regional authorities repeatedly attempted to silence critical voices through a combination of detentions, the denial of credentials, the suspension of television licenses, and raids of stations. Iraqi journalists continued to call for revisions to the Journalist Protection Law, which CPJ criticized for its ambiguous and restrictive provisions. In a sign of hope, the Iraqi parliament withdrew a draft Information Crimes bill that would have restricted online journalism. Still, with so much uncertainty and so little security, journalists continue to flee into exile, amid fears that Iraq could slide back into the dark days of civil war.

February 12, 2014 1:08 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Despite the immense differences between the Israeli government, Fatah, and Hamas, they shared a common trait in 2013: a consistent and troublesome record of silencing journalists who reported dissenting perspectives. The revolving door on Israeli prisons continued to spin, as the government arrested multiple Palestinian journalists while releasing others. Palestinian journalists are often held under administrative detention, which effectively allows the Israeli government to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge. Israeli security forces sought to constrict coverage of Palestinian demonstrations, with journalists under threat of injury and detention. Local human rights organizations reported that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank also obstructed coverage of protests, especially those in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Hamas also restricted coverage of protests and opposition movements in Gaza. Hamas authorities shut down several media offices, including the Ramallah-based Ma'an and Al-Arabiya. In March, President Mahmoud Abbas pardoned a journalist who had been convicted of insulting him. Israeli journalists, however, enjoy greater freedom than any other press corps in the region, even as they face government censorship for articles concerning national security.

February 12, 2014 1:07 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Jordan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Jordan

Although Jordanian journalists continued to enjoy greater freedom than most of their regional colleagues, that freedom was nonetheless restricted. The government continued its attempt to control the online media as it already controls traditional media. As CPJ had warned last year, the Jordanian government used the amended Press and Publications Law to block hundreds of websites that had failed to register with the government, despite protests by local journalists and promises by government officials to discuss amending the law. The country also ranked below the regional average in Internet use. The government maintained its long-standing practice of restricting coverage of sensitive issues, including local protests and the royal family. At the same time, Jordan opened its doors to numerous international journalists covering the massive influx of Syrian refugees into the country.

February 12, 2014 1:06 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Morocco

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Morocco

The Moroccan government continued its practice of targeting journalists and news outlets in connection with their critical coverage of taboo subjects, such as the health of the king or the royal family. One editor of an investigative weekly was convicted of defamation in relation to an article he wrote that said a government minister had drunk alcohol. The editor was fined and handed a two-month suspended prison sentence. Another editor was charged with promoting terrorism under the country's 2003 anti-terrorism law for publishing a link to a video of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group. After an international outcry by more than 60 free-expression organizations, the editor was released on bail, but he still faces charges. In its annual census conducted on December 1, CPJ documented one journalist behind bars, a decrease from previous years.

February 12, 2014 1:05 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Libya

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Libya

As Libya's growing media sector faced threats from state and non-state actors alike, the country continued to struggle to realize the promise of the 2011 revolution. Several journalists were physically assaulted by security guards outside the General National Congress (GNC) in February. The same month, the government confirmed the appointment of the country's first minister of information since the Qaddafi era, which made some journalists fear the government intended to assert greater control over the media. But the greatest threats to journalists came from the government's inability to protect them. At least eight journalists were briefly abducted in 2013, while raids on news outlets and attacks on reporters continued. No journalists were imprisoned in late year, but the government continued to pursue a case against an editor who was accused of insulting the judiciary. At least one journalist was killed for his work this year, after no journalists were killed for their work in 2012.

February 12, 2014 1:04 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Sudan

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Sudan

Despite official promises to end the practice of pre-publication censorship, agents of the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services continued to intimidate journalists and censor newspapers. Security service officials routinely ordered papers to be suspended and raided printing houses to confiscate certain issues. At least 14 journalists were arrested over the year, many for their coverage of anti-government protests prompted by economic austerity plans that swept the country in September. After the wave of protests, in which more than 700 citizens were arrested, the Sudanese government ordered editors to publish news in line with official statements and to portray protesters as “vandals.” Foreign media outlets were also targeted and told that their licenses would be scrapped, according to reports. The Sudanese government shut down Internet service twice to prevent protesters from using social media.

February 12, 2014 1:03 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Syria

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Syria

For the second year in a row, CPJ ranked Syria the deadliest country in the world for journalists. Journalists also faced new threats in 2013 as radical Islamist groups strengthened their influence in rebel-held territory and rebel groups saw increased infighting. An unprecedented number of journalists were abducted during the year; many of them were believed to be held by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham. But the blame did not fall solely with extremist groups. Armed factions affiliated with both the regime and the rebels were implicated in anti-press violations including detention and killing. Throughout the year, as the groups succeeded in silencing dissenting voices with complete impunity, fewer journalists were willing to take on the risks of reporting from Syria. Many international journalists refused to enter the country, and local journalists fled into exile, fearing for their lives.

February 12, 2014 1:02 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Tunisia

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Tunisia

Tunisia, the country that inspired uprisings across the Middle East, continues to struggle to realize the aspirations of its own revolution, including the guarantee of press freedom. Journalists were attacked while covering protests, and several reported receiving death threats in relation to their criticism of the ruling party. The government created a draft constitution, which local press freedom groups criticized as falling short of international press freedom standards. The final draft was pending in late 2013 as the constitutional assembly suspended its work due to political tension. Constitutional protection has proven necessary in Tunisia, where the government has imprisoned and fined journalists for libel and defamation and has even tried some in a military court. In protest against attacks on freedom of expression, journalists organized general strikes calling for the implementation of decree 115 that prohibits the imprisonment of journalists in relation to their work. In May, the government established the High Independent Authority for Audiovisual Communication, a self-regulatory body for the media.

February 12, 2014 1:01 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Yemen

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Yemen

The state of press freedom in Yemen in 2013 reflected the overall uncertainty and insecurity of a country in transition after decades of rule under President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The press faced serious consequences for failing to navigate a complicated web of red lines from the government, tribal groups, and political factions. Many journalists received death threats after crossing those red lines, and several were threatened or attacked by various assailants. CPJ documented at least seven journalists who were abducted over the year, all of whom were later released. Journalists covering protests related to the anniversary of the brief civil war in the country were assaulted by demonstrators, unidentified gunmen, and government security forces. The government continued to prosecute journalists for a range of charges, including defamation and insulting public officials. Still, there were some reasons for optimism. Freelance journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea was freed in July after three years’ imprisonment, and CPJ documented no Yemeni journalists in prison for the first time since 2009. For the second year in a row, CPJ documented no journalists killed in relation to their work.

February 12, 2014 1:00 AM ET
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