CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Bob Dietz

Bob Dietz, coordinator of CPJ’s Asia Program, has reported across the continent for news outlets such as CNN and Asiaweek. He has led numerous CPJ missions, including ones to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Follow him on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.

2012

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British Prime Minister Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani at a joint press conference in Islamabad in 2011. (AFP/Aamir Qureshi)

Amid political tumult in Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a team of six ministers are in London for far-ranging meetings today through May 13. The Pakistan-U.K. Enhanced Strategic Dialogue will review education, health, defense, security, and cultural cooperation. CPJ has written a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron to urge that press freedom conditions be raised as well.

Wednesday, the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) released its report, "Death of an Uruzgan Journalist: Command Errors and Collateral Damage," by Kate Clark on the July 2011 shooting death of journalist Omaid Khpalwak. Clark's details on how Khpalwak died corroborate and then go beyond the investigation already conducted by the U.S.-led NATO forces who were responsible. Her report was important to write, and is important to read.

The magistrate's hearings into the January 24, 2010, disappearance of opposition journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda continue at a tortuously slow pace. A correspondent in Colombo shared the details of the April 24 hearing, where Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, and the couple's two teenage sons continue to press for any news of Prageeth. The family's attorney said he may have to press Sri Lanka's Appeal Court to order former Attorney General Mohan Peiris to testify about the comments he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture on November 9, 2011, in Geneva. The government has ignored the January 2012 ruling by the Court that Peiris could be called in as a witness.

The Friday Times in Lahore has come under cyberattack. Earlier Friday, its website could not be accessed.

Najam Sethi, the paper's editor, told CPJ that someone has "launched an attack on the websites of both The Friday Times and Vanguard Books [the book publishing and distribution company that owns the Times]. A tsunami of killer spams and log-ins have clogged the sites and blocked them."

First, a bit of history: In 2008, CPJ reported:

The high court in the western state of Gujarat defended the media, rebuking a prosecutor for demanding state regulation of newspaper content. The prosecution sought restrictions after the Ahmedabad police commissioner filed sedition charges against a Times of India editor and reporter, and a Gujarat Samachar photographer.

Murtaza Razvi (Dawn.com)

The ceremony for Murtaza Razvi was held in Karachi Friday. Even as more details of the killing of one of the Dawn Media Group's most senior journalists emerge, it's difficult to discern a motive. Several Pakistani media quoted an anonymous police official as saying, "We are investigating into the matter but it is a case of murder because his hands were tied and his body bore torture marks and he had apparently been strangled to death" with a belt. The official said police are waiting for the postmortem report.

Given that it is usually punishable by death, "treason" is a dangerous word to bandy about. When it is applied to journalists, it is even more worrisome. We've seen that in Sri Lanka, which is in the throes of a backlash against a U.N. resolution on past human rights abuses. (See "Amid Sri Lankan denial, threats rise for journalists.") Photographs of journalists who have been critical of Colombo, their faces barely obscured, have been shown on television; one broadcast even repeatedly used the picture of a journalist's daughter, according to the Network for Rights media support group. 

Amid the rush to see changes in Burma as an inexorable move toward full democracy--Aung San Suu Kyi's electoral victory over the weekend is certainly cause for hope--CPJ has maintained a healthy skepticism about media reform in Burma. Shawn Crispin's "In Burma, press freedom remains an illusion," posted on Friday, is the most recent example of our thinking on the subject.  

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.

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.

2012

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