Blog   |   Syria

Syrian cartoonist, attacked in August, returns to drawing

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat is wielding his pen once more. According to news reports, the famous cartoonist, who suffered a severe beating in August, has regained 90 percent of the movement in his hands, which were deliberately targeted by his attackers before they dumped him on the side of a road.

March 30, 2012 5:26 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Iraq

Iraqi cybercrime bill is the worst kind

After the rash of political revolutions and criminal attacks on governments and companies last year, it wasn't hard to predict that 2012 would be the year of a cybercrime crackdown. The United States is considering its own cybercrime legislation, and the European Union is seeking to harmonize its member state's computer crime laws. Governments understandably want to prevent further online attacks. Journalists suffer these attacks also, but they don't necessarily gain from fiercer laws. And in the case of a proposed new cybercrime law in Iraq, they may face life imprisonment for simply doing their job.

March 30, 2012 1:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burma

In Burma, press freedom remains an illusion

Supporters of Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party travel to a rally at a Yangon constituency on Friday. (AFP/Soe Than Win)

Just ahead of this weekend's highly anticipated Burma by-elections, opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi today denounced the vote as not "free and fair." Indeed, Thein Sein government's harassment of opposition media in the run-up to the polls raises disturbing questions about the country's reputed new democratic direction after decades of repressive military rule. 

March 30, 2012 11:16 AM ET

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Blog   |   Senegal

Video: Bocar Dieng on reporting Senegal's elections

Political violence in Senegal from Committee to Protect Journalists on Vimeo.

Last week's unexpected coup d'etat in Mali somewhat overshadowed, in the international news cycle, a relatively peaceful transition of power in the neighboring democracy of Senegal. In a second-round vote, opposition leader Macky Sall on Sunday defeated his former mentor, 85-year-old incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade; and while European Union observers deplored some irregularities, they largely praised the election and the Senegalese news media for a "positive role" in informing voters. 

Blog   |   India

Mumbai police, media have failed Jyotirmoy Dey

The confessed mastermind of the murder of crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey, whose June 2011 funeral is shown here, remains free. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

New Delhi-based Tehelka weekly news magazine has published a scathing indictment of the police investigation into the 2011 killing of Mumbai crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey--and of the Indian media's coverage of it. Beneath the allegations and the rumors, we still don't know exactly why he was killed, while the self-confessed mastermind is a fugitive from justice. Meanwhile, a second journalist has been indicted for the crime on apparently flimsy evidence.  

Blog   |   South Sudan

Corruption a no-go zone for South Sudan's journalists

Pagan Amum, secretary-general of South Sudan's ruling party, was awarded defamation damages from two newspapers who reported on a corruption case. (CPJ)

Last week, South Sudan's ruling party secretary-general, Pagan Amum, won an important court battle, absolving him of allegations that he received a $30 million corrupt payment in 2006. The accusations came from former Finance Minister Arthur Akuien Chol, who alleged earlier this year that he had received orders from "above" to transfer the public money, according to local reports. The court acquitted Amum based on insufficient evidence. The money, however, remains unaccounted for, according to local reports. And the odds of any journalist in South Sudan investigating the matter further are slim.

March 28, 2012 6:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Philippines

In the Philippines, two murders that should be solved

Journalist Gerardo Ortega's wife looks at his picture. (AFP/Noel Celis)

The investigation into the notorious murder of muckraking Philippine journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat in Mindanao is now seven years old. A separate hunt for conspirators in the January 2011 killing of Palawan radio journalist Gerardo Ortega is just getting started. The Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa City issued arrest warrants against three suspects in the Ortega case on Tuesday, and one has been arrested, according to the local Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. But both cases should already have been solved. 

Blog   |   China

How to stop rumors in China: Stop censorship

Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai's departure has left journalists with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports.

The sacking of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai has sparked some entertaining gossip this month, leaving journalists covering China with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports. The Chinese government blames the international media, not its own lack of transparency and comprehensive censorship apparatus, for the burgeoning rumors. 

March 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Eknelygoda's wife latest victim of Sri Lankan intolerance

Sri Lankans are calling for a boycott of U.S. products after the U.S. sponsored the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into possible war crimes. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

On Thursday and Friday, we wrote about the ugly government backlash to last week's U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists.

March 26, 2012 2:04 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Mexico

Defining who is a journalist, Mexican style

This month, the Mexican Senate approved an amendment to the country's constitution that would make attacks on journalists a federal crime in Mexico.

March 26, 2012 1:16 PM ET

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Blog   |   Portugual

Portuguese police assault AFP photographer

(Reuters/Hugo Correia)
This combination of pictures shows a policeman beating Agence France-Presse photojournalist Patricia de Melo Moreira during a Portuguese general strike in downtown Lisbon yesterday, according to Reuters. The strikers were protesting economic austerity measures. A number of Melo's photos from the strike can be viewed on the Guardian's website.
March 23, 2012 5:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Amid Sri Lankan denial, threats rise for journalists

Sri Lankan ruling party lawmakers demonstrate in front of the parliament against the U.N. Human Rights Council in Colombo Thursday. (Reuters)

In the wake of the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists, the government has resorted to outright threats of violence against journalists who might dare to return home after taking part in the Geneva discussions.

Blog   |   Mali

With coup, quiet #Mali generates noise on Twitter

Mali junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, center, poses surrounded by fellow soldiers in Bamako Thursday. (AFP/Habibou Kouyate)

Yesterday, while reporting on breaking news in Mali from studios in Atlanta, CNN Wire Newsdesk Editor Faith Karimi made an ominous observation that presaged the outcome of developments unfolding 5,000 miles away. "#Mali president @PresidenceMali has not tweeted in 10 hours after reports of gunfire and a coup attempt," she tweeted.

March 22, 2012 6:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan, Pakistan, USA

Ahmed Rashid on U.S. policy in South Asia

At Columbia University on Monday evening, CPJ board member Ahmed Rashid held forth to a full house in a conversation with Steve Coll about U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you're reading this blog, there's most likely no need to explain who Rashid is--or Coll, for that matter. The earliest reference I could find on cpj.org to Rashid dated back to 2000, about events in 1999, when he was the Islamabad bureau chief for the now-defunct Far Eastern Economic Review. His latest book, Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, is the most recent installment in a steady stream of trenchant, reliable, reality-based analysis of geopolitical affairs in Central and South Asia. If you need to be convinced, check out Foreign Policy's list of Top 100 Global Thinkers.

A video of the event, which was co-sponsored by CPJ, is now available here.

Blog   |   Kenya, Somalia

Exiled Somali journalist Hassan Mohamed dies in Nairobi

Hassan Mohamed in 2011 (CPJ)

Veteran Somali radio journalist Hassan Mohamed, 45, died early yesterday morning in Eastleigh, a Nairobi suburb. He had fled Mogadishu in 2010, having been threatened, kidnapped, and shot twice. One of hundreds of Somali refugees in Kenya, many of them journalists, Hassan struggled to support himself and survive worsening diabetes-related ailments, despite relentless support from Somali colleagues and friends, including CPJ. His death highlights the plight of exiled journalists in East Africa.

Blog   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Belgian journalist Thierry Michel takes on impunity in DRC

Police officers indicted for the murder of prominent human rights figure Floribert Chebeya attend their trial. (AFP)

Who killed Floribert Chebeya, the president of the leading DRC human rights group La Voix des Sans Voix, and his driver, Fidèle Bazana, in June 2010 in Kinshasa? A few runaway police officers, according to the military tribunal that judged the case and issued its sentences one year later. A few bad apples, who acted on their own, without any order from their hierarchy.

Blog   |   China

As Chinese politician censored, exiled journalist triumphs

A Chinese woman carries a protrait of Bo Xilai, until recently a rising political star with little tolerance for critics. (AFP)

The political ouster of Bo Xilai, Chinese Communist Party top dog in the major southwestern city of Chongqing, has been making headlines around the world. Bo notoriously silenced critics like investigative journalist Jiang Weiping, but the shoe is now on the other foot, at least for a while.

Many China watchers are familiar with Bo because he was in line for a position in the inner circle of Chinese politics, until state media announced his replacement last week. CPJ has reported on Bo for different reasons. Jiang, CPJ's 2001 International Press Freedom Award winner, spent five years behind bars in China, after revealing several corruption scandals involving Bo, a former mayor of Dalian city and then governor of the province, Liaoning, where Jiang worked.

March 19, 2012 3:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Four years on, wife calls for Tibetan filmmaker's release

Lhamo Tso has traveled to Europe and America to publicize her husband Dhondup
Wangchen's imprisonment. (CPJ)

Lhamo Tso has not spoken to her husband Dhondup Wangchen since March 17, 2008. She, their four children, and his elderly parents live in India, and hear of him only when his sister visits the Xichuan Prison in Qinghai province, western China, where he is serving six years. Through glass, he passes on the news: He's contracted hepatitis, though the prison won't let the family pay for proper medical treatment. He's working less -- promoted from 17-hour days in a brick kiln to manufacturing acupuncture needles. His two lawyers have been told their Beijing-based firm will be put out of business if they continue to work on his case.

March 16, 2012 3:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   Syria

Chair of UN panel on Syria pledges to probe attacks

The chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, has criticized Syria's policy on the media but refrained from blaming the regime for journalists' deaths. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

Paulo Pinheiro, the chair of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, is a seasoned diplomat trained in the tradition of Brazil's foreign affairs ministry, Itamaraty, with its celebrated emphasis on impartial mediation, dialogue, and strong skepticism toward foreign intervention to resolve international conflicts.

March 16, 2012 1:00 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka media restrictions come amid rise in abductions

Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa protest in Colombo against the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte)

On March 9, Sri Lanka's military authorities told all news and media organizations that they would have to get prior approval before releasing text or SMS news alerts containing any news about the military or police.

Blog   |   Syria

In Syria, killing the messenger hasn't killed the message

This image from a March 13 YouTube video is said to show regime forces shelling the restive Idlib province. The video was shot by a local videographer. (AFP/YouTube)

A report on the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising

Weeks of sporadic protests seeking government reform burst into full-fledged unrest on March 15, 2011, when thousands of demonstrators gathered in four Syrian cities. Within days, authorities had cut off news media access to Daraa, a center of the unrest, beginning a sustained effort to shut down international news coverage of the uprising and the government's increasingly violent crackdown. As the civilian death toll has reached well into the thousands, according to U.N. figures, the last four months have taken a particularly dark turn for the press. Eight local and international journalists have been killed on duty since November, at least five in circumstances that raise questions about government culpability. Yet one year after the Syrian uprising began, killing the messenger has not silenced the message.

Blog   |   Senegal

Who knew? Senegalese arrest, prosecution can be swift

Lalla Cissokho (Courtesy of Cissokho)

Last week, a judge in Senegal convicted a man of assaulting three journalists outside their newspaper's office in the capital Dakar last month. The attack was not related to journalism, but the quick arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator serves as an instructive contrast between the handling of an ordinary crime and the handling of abuses against journalists in the line of duty - cases which are usually politicized, stalled, or both.

March 14, 2012 1:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   Malawi

A bad weekend for Malawian journalists

The government of Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika, pictured, has threatened journalists with fines and arrests for disrespecting him. (AFP/Alexander Joe)

No media outlet critical of President Bingu Wa Mutharika or the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was spared by the government this past weekend -- whether print, broadcast, or online. The broadside included a public campaign to discredit the media as well as threats of fines and arrests of critical journalists.

Blog   |   Security, Syria, USA

From Small World, timely advice on safe satphone use

Journalists and technologists often speak different languages. But a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit, Small World News, is bridging the gap with a new guide on the safe use of satellite phones. It comes at a critical time.

The group's Guide to Safely Using Satphones just went online, less than three weeks after the deaths of international journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik in Homs, Syria. Several journalists who worked in Homs suspected the Syrian government targeted the building where Colvin, Ochlik, and other journalists were working. If government forces indeed targeted the building, they could have relied on several forms of intelligence, including the tracking of journalists' satellite signals.

March 13, 2012 2:43 PM ET

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Blog   |   Mexico

Mexican senators say journalist murders to be federal crime

The author, right, looks on as Sen. José
González Morfín, center, confers with CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. (Ignacio González Anaya)

With near impunity in the murders of journalists a persistent reason for the terror and self-censorship among Mexican news organizations, legislators say the national Senate is on the verge of passing a constitutional amendment that would allow federal authorities to take over cases of crimes against freedom of expression. Passage would mean that the typically less corrupt and more effective federal police and prosecutors would move aside state authorities to tackle cases of murdered journalists or those living under threat.

March 9, 2012 5:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   India, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Arrest in bombing case prompts scrutiny in India

Plainclothes police escort Syed Mohammed Kazmi, an alleged suspect in last month's bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, from a local court, in New Delhi Wednesday. (AP/Manish Swarup)

To many in the Indian media community, the arrest of independent journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi by the Delhi police's Special Cell on March 6 for his alleged involvement in a bombing brings back troublesome memories.

March 9, 2012 5:02 PM ET

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Blog   |   Kenya

The hazards of reporting all sides of the Lamu port story

Lamu town on Lamu island, which will be home to a major port project. (Lamu Studios)

Freelance photographer Abdalla Bargash had accompanied Kenya's permanent secretary for transport, Cyrus Njiru, to cover a meeting with Lamu community members over the newly constructed Lamu port. The Kililana Farmers' Association are concerned that the major construction on the once-sleepy island of Lamu off Kenya's coast could encroach on their farmland. 

March 8, 2012 6:32 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Will China's new detention law matter? Ask Zhang Mingyu

"Zhang Mingyu isn't out of danger yet."

These words, posted at 7:37 p.m. Wednesday on the Sina Weibo account of Chongqing property developer Zhang Mingyu after his detention by police, mark the latest twist in a story of political intrigue leading up to this week's legislative meetings in Beijing. As required by China's hardworking censorship machine, the state media has approached these meetings with a heavy dose of old-school propaganda, along with excruciatingly dull depictions of handshakes and applause and descriptions of work sessions sucked clean of any controversy. 

Blog   |   Mexico

Solidarity in Sinaloa: Journalists, others address crisis

Citizens, officials, and civil society groups joined journalists for Tuesday's discussion on the state of press freedom in Sinaloa. (Ron Bernal)

A unified front is crucial when facing a crisis in press freedom like that in the violent state of Sinaloa in Mexico, Colombian journalist and CPJ board member María Teresa Ronderos said this week. She was speaking to a packed room of print, radio, and television reporters; members of civil society groups; state legislators; union leaders; human rights activists; and even ordinary citizens, who had gathered for a discussion on the press in one of Mexico's most dangerous cities, Culiacán.

Blog   |   China

Journalists at work in China: Tibet and Beijing edition

A hostess fills tea cups for delegates inside the Tibet room at the Great Hall of the People before the Tibetan delegation meets as part of the National People's Congress in Beijing Wednesday. (AP/Andy Wong)

China media analysts are looking to two significant events to shape coverage this month: The anniversary of a failed uprising in Tibet, and the annual meetings of China's top political bodies, the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing. Journalists at work in both areas attracted coverage of their own today--but from vastly different angles.

Blog   |   Internet, Mexico

Online news sites as battleground for Mexican drug war

Danny O'Brien, left, consults with Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas, outside the offices of Noroeste. (Ron Bernal)

I'm in Culiacán, the capital of the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Part of my work here has been to investigate and highlight the cyber-attacks that the award-winning weekly local newsmagazine Ríodoce has encountered in its coverage of the violent drugs war here.

But discussing the experiences of online editors at other publications here has shown just how intertwined the Net, the work of reporters, and the drug war have become.

March 7, 2012 12:45 PM ET

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Blog   |   Egypt

Egyptian journalists pressured by military, Islamists

Veteran Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Eissa. (CPJ)

For a few weeks after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, it looked as if Egypt might do the unthinkable and do away with the ministry of information. New publications and TV stations sprouted up, newspaper circulation soared, and a new breed of citizen journalists and bloggers opened a space for reporting and comment that a year earlier would have led to a jail sentence.

For a growing number of independent journalists and bloggers, the memory of that press freedom euphoria is as hazy as the Cairo skyline.

March 6, 2012 3:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   Azerbaijan, Hungary, Turkey

The global impact of EU media policies

European Parliament President Martin Schulz shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, during an EU leaders' summit in Brussels Thursday.(Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

The state of press freedom inside the European Union has a significant effect on press freedom outside the EU. That was the message that CPJ Senior European Adviser Jean-Paul Marthoz and I delivered this week when Brussels' leading think tank, the European Policy Center (EPC), hosted us for a policy dialogue marking the launch of our annual survey, Attacks on the Press.

Blog   |   Russia

Ahead of elections, Russian media are duly warned

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta is suffering from a raid and audit on its major shareholder. (AP)

Russia's leading independent media head into Sunday's elections--in which Vladimir Putin is expected to be handed his third presidential term--burdened by a series of warnings. Over the past few months, beginning with the parliamentary elections held December 4, Kremlin allies have taken several steps designed to put news outlets on alert for uncensored coverage of nationwide protests, in which a surprising number of Russians have demanded an end to elections fraud and called on Putin to step down from his current post of prime minister.

Blog   |   China

On board the election bus in China's Wukan

A villager stands near ballot writing booths at a school playground in Wukan village in Guangdong province Friday, one day before the election of a seven-member village committee. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Village elections taking place this weekend in southern Guangdong province's Wukan illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of China's media control. Censorship measures have not prevented strong domestic and international coverage of the democratic process. But has official tolerance of dissenting views increased since leaders cracked down on the attempted Jasmine revolution last year? Or is Wukan not a real challenge to one-party rule, and therefore OK to write about?

March 2, 2012 2:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Pakistan

Pakistan's excessive Internet censorship plans

A Pakistani man removes movie posters on a cinema wall in Rawalpindi. (AFP/Abid Zia)

Last month, Pakistan's government put out requests for proposals for a massive, centralized, Internet censorship system. Explaining that "ISPs and backbone providers have expressed their inability to block millions of undesirable web sites using current manual blocking systems," the state-run National Information Communications Technology Research and Development Fund said it therefore requires "a national URL filtering and blocking system."

March 1, 2012 5:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

'Invisible Tibet' blogger elicits China's extra-judicial ire

In this photo taken February 27, Chinese paramilitary and riot police stand guard near barricades set up along the main street of a Tibetan monastery town in Sichuan province. (AP/Gillian Wong)

Beijing-based blogger Woeser reported on her website Invisible Tibet today that she has been confined to her residence by Beijing public security officers who are stationed outside her home. Woeser, an outspoken critic of Chinese government policies in Tibet, has written about a series of recent self-immolations among monks and arrests of writers in western China.

Blog   |   Nepal

Two years after Nepal murder, no progress, mission finds

Members of the International Media Mission to Nepal with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, center. (Federation of Nepalese Journalists)

On the evening of March 1, 2010, Arun Singhaniya, owner of Janakpur Today newspaper and Janakpur Today Radio, stepped out of a prayer service during a holy celebration in Janakpur, Nepal's second largest city. A gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed the news proprietor, making him the second person affiliated with the Janakpur Today news group to be murdered within a year.

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