CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Sumit Galhotra

Sumit Galhotra is the research associate for CPJ's Asia program. He served as CPJ's inaugural Steiger Fellow and has worked for CNN International, Amnesty International USA, and Human Rights Watch. He has reported from London, India, and Israel and the Occupied Territories, and specializes in human rights and South Asia.

2013


Blog   |   Pakistan

In Pakistan, another journalist breaks his silence

CPJ's report, Roots of Impunity, published earlier this year, provides a glimpse of the grim realities that journalists in Pakistan face when they cross red lines. Many journalists are threatened, harassed, and intimidated by a host of actors, including members of Pakistan's security and intelligence apparatus. Some of these cases get reported, but in many instances journalists stay quiet to avoid further trouble. Almost every Pakistani journalist visiting CPJ tells me that he or she routinely receives threats.

December 9, 2013 4:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

CPJ joins Pakistani groups in condemning Express attack

Security officials examine the scene of Monday's attack on Express Media Group in Karachi. (AFP)

The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined the Alliance for Access, a coalition of Pakistani media groups, academic and student organizations, and telecommunications companies working to promote open access, in condemning Monday's attack on the offices of Express Media Group in Karachi.

Blog   |   Vietnam

A daughter's plea for her father's freedom in Vietnam

Next week, the Committee to Protect Journalists will be honoring four journalists from around the world at the International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous reporting. As the awardees from Ecuador, Egypt, and Turkey make the journey to attend the awards and benefit dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on November 26, one of the awardees will be absent.

Blog   |   Bangladesh

Journalists and imperfect justice in Bangladesh

Bangladesh's Supreme Court has hardened the sentence against Abdul Quader Molla, a top Islamist of a key opposition party, from a life term to death for his role in mass killings committed during the country's war of independence from Pakistan in 1971. But what caught my eye in particular was that Molla was also convicted on a separate charge of murdering a prominent journalist, Khandoker Abu Taleb, on March 29, 1971.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

UN rights chief should push Sri Lanka on press freedom

When the human rights watchdog for the United Nations visits Sri Lanka this weekend she should forcefully address the government's problematic record on press freedom.

Blog   |   Bangladesh

Q&A: Nadia Sharmeen on journalists in Bangladesh

Nadia Sharmeen was attacked when she tried to cover a protest in April. (Ekushey TV)

It has been a turbulent year for journalists in Bangladesh. It began with blogger Asif Mohiuddin being stabbed in January as he left his office in Dhaka. The following month, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was killed for his writing. Four other bloggers, including Mohiuddin, were arrested in early April (all four have been released on bail, but still face criminal charges). Meanwhile, an editor of a pro-opposition newspaper is imprisoned.

August 9, 2013 10:58 AM ET

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Blog   |   New Zealand

New Zealand accesses journalist's records, movements

Following reports earlier this week that New Zealand, with help from U.S. intelligence, may have spied on one of its journalists, Wellington is under fire for tracking the phone records and movement of another journalist. Ironically, this journalist came under surveillance after writing about potentially illegal government surveillance.

August 2, 2013 4:28 PM ET

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Blog   |   New Zealand, USA

New Zealand, US may have spied on McClatchy reporter

Concern over government surveillance of journalists has washed up on the faraway shores of New Zealand, with a report in the country's Sunday Star this week asserting that the military there, with help from U.S. intelligence, spied on an investigative journalist who had been critical of its activities in Afghanistan. 

Blog   |   India

Kashmir's Internet suspension fits pattern of restrictions

A Kashmiri youth throws a piece of brick at Indian police during a protest in Srinagar on July 18. Indian paramilitary soldiers fired at protesters in the region last week, killing four. (Reuters/Danish Ismail)

Curbing the flow of information during heightened periods of tension has become routine business by authorities in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Access to mobile Internet service was suspended Thursday after violent protests erupted in the state. Although the service was restored late that night, the episode is another example of the government's heavy-handed tactics.

July 22, 2013 1:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Doubts as Sri Lanka says Commonwealth meeting open

As Sri Lanka prepares to host the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo in November, some journalists have wondered whether they will be able to access the summit given the island nation's abysmal press freedom record.

Blog   |   Bangladesh

Historic judgment for Gautam Das murder in Bangladesh

Almost eight years have passed since the murder of Bangladeshi journalist Gautam Das, but the slow wheels of justice have finally rotated. Late last month, a court sentenced nine individuals to life in prison in connection with the scribe's murder. Many local journalists have hailed the verdict as a landmark, the first time a Bangladeshi court has successfully prosecuted a murder of a journalist.

Blog   |   China, France, Thailand

Chinese diplomats harass France 24 reporter

Diplomats are charged with promoting cordial and constructive ties between nations. But Chinese embassy officials in France and Thailand appear bent on fostering fear and disgust with recent efforts to harass and intimidate France 24 reporter Cyril Payen.

Blog   |   India

Indian media face growing calls for regulation

The rapid growth of revenue-hungry Indian media and recent scandals involving news outlets have prompted growing calls for external regulation, raising concerns about independence of the press.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka, UAE

Sri Lankan journalist in UAE still at risk of deportation

Lohini Rathimohan, a former television journalist from Sri Lanka, faces an unclear future. The 28-year-old is among 15 Tamil refugees still sheltered in a single room of an aluminum factory at Dubai's Jebel Ali port whose official statuses remain uncertain.

Blog   |   China

A poor defense of censorship on Tiananmen anniversary

Tens of thousand of people commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Hong Kong's Victoria Park. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

Today, the 24th anniversary of the brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square, a Chinese state-run newspaper ran a piece justifying censorship of the Web by citing recent attempts at media regulation abroad.

June 4, 2013 4:40 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

In China, reporter's death sparks questions on censorship

Twenty-four-year-old Bai Lu was just four days into her new job as a journalist at the Urumqi Evening Post when she was killed. She and her colleague, Chen Aiying, were struck by a bulldozer while reporting at a major construction project on April 18 in the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang province. Chen was seriously injured.

Blog   |   China

Business as usual under new Chinese leadership

Six patients, front, who have recovered from the H7N9 strain of bird flu pose for photographs with doctors and nurses before being discharged from a hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on April 27. (Reuters/China Daily)

Almost two months have passed since President Xi Jinping took office. Despite expectations for greater transparency, Beijing continues to try to suppress information on a broad range of issues from human rights to public health.

Blog   |   India

Objection to international press at Indian rape trial

A police van takes defendants in the rape trial to court. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

A British journalist trying to cover the Delhi gang rape trial was asked to leave the courtroom on Tuesday after the prosecution objected to the presence of the international press. Andrew Buncombe, a correspondent for The Independent of London, was ejected from a court in the Indian capital even though a wide-ranging order restricting press coverage had been lifted last month. 

April 25, 2013 4:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bangladesh

Slideshow: Is Bangladesh spiraling out of control?

As political turmoil continues between Islamists and secularists in Bangladesh, the climate for press freedom is rapidly deteriorating. The tensions stem from an ongoing war crimes tribunal tasked with prosecuting genocide, crimes against humanity, and other crimes dating back to the 1971 war of independence. 

April 19, 2013 12:37 PM ET

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Blog   |   China, USA

Kerry should press Beijing on press freedom

Tibetan blogger Woeser waves from the balcony of her home in Beijing on March 8. She was named an International Woman of Courage by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, but rather than being allowed to accept it, she was placed under house arrest. (Reuters/Petar Kujundzic)

As John Kerry visits China this weekend in his first trip there as U.S. secretary of state, he should take the opportunity to engage Chinese leaders on their problematic record regarding press freedom. 

April 12, 2013 3:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, climate worsens for journalists

Activists demonstrate in Dhaka over the weekend, calling for bloggers to be given the death penalty. (Reuters/Andrew Biraj)

This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of Islamists took to the streets in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, demanding death for bloggers whose work they see as blasphemous. The demonstrations highlight the deteriorating climate for journalists, both those whose work is the target of the protests and those who have tried to cover the events. Several journalists were assaulted while covering the day-long demonstrations, including reporter Nadia Sharmin of the private broadcaster Ekushey Television. She was assaulted by a group of 50 to 60 Islamists who threw her to the ground, beat her, and told her that reporting was an unfit profession for a woman, news reports said.

Blog   |   India

Indian law enforcement unaccountable in journalist attacks

Indian policemen beat an opposition activist during a protest outside the Odisha state chief minister's office in Bhubaneswar, India, on March 25. (AP/Biswaranjan Rout)

Anyone who has been to India or is familiar with the country knows how chaotic it can be: from the congestion on the streets of Delhi to the messy way in which democracy functions. And for journalists, covering the chaos of India can be risky business. This week alone, Indian law enforcement officials assaulted two journalists covering demonstrations in different corners of the country.

Blog   |   India

In India, media gag order on rape trial lifted

V.K. Anand, lawyer for Ram Singh, a man on trial for the gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old student aboard a New Delhi bus, addresses the media outside a hospital in New Delhi on March 11 after Singh was found dead in prison. (AP/Saurabh Das)

In a welcome move, Indian media will finally be allowed to cover court proceedings in the rape case that shook India's conscience. On Friday, the Delhi High Court lifted a gag order on media covering the ongoing trial of those accused of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in December. 

March 25, 2013 12:55 PM ET

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Blog   |   India, Somalia

Jail for reporting on women in Mangalore, Mogadishu

Today marks International Women's Day. Hashtags like #IWD and #InternationalWomensDay have been trending on Twitter. Among the twitterati who voiced their support for women's rights was Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He tweeted: 

Blog   |   India

Under Hindu right, attacks on press rise in Karnataka

Confusion surrounds the case of imprisoned Indian journalist Naveen Soorinje, who was jailed for exposing an attack on young men and women last summer by extremists belonging to the Hindu Jagran Vedike, self-appointed moral police in coastal Karnataka. Soorinje's report helped lead to the arrest of dozens of attackers. But Karnataka state--ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)--has grouped him with the very attackers he exposed. Soorinje's continued imprisonment warrants a look at the larger picture in coastal Karnataka.

Blog   |   India

Indian reporter who exposed assault faces new litigation

Indian journalist Naveen Soorinje continues to languish in prison despite last week's decision by the Karnataka state cabinet to withdraw charges against him. New developments this week are challenging his release. And his continued imprisonment raises a larger question about the role of journalists at the occurrence of a crime.

Blog   |   India

India withdraws charges against journalist Naveen Soorinje

Although Naveen Soorinje is still in jail, there may be some good news. Today, 86 days after his arrest, the state cabinet in Karnataka decided to withdraw charges against him.

January 31, 2013 4:36 PM ET

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Blog   |   Nepal

Nepal takes one step toward justice for Dekendra Thapa

Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai condemned arrests in the 8-year-old murder case of a radio journalist. (Reuters/Rajendra Chitrakar)

Lau Tzu once said: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In Nepal, getting to that first step has been a tumultuous process. Tomorrow, a court in the western district of Dailekh is expected to formally begin hearings in the 2004 murder case of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa.

Blog   |   India

Amid rape furor, journalist still in jail for exposing assault

Indian policemen stand guard near India Gate in New Delhi. A magistrate ruled Monday that the media will not be allowed to attend the trial of five men accused of raping and killing a young student. (AP/Tsering Topgyal)

Even though members of the Karnataka state government have provided broad assurances that they will drop charges against Naveen Soorinje, the young journalist remains imprisoned two months after he was arrested for exposing an assault on women by Hindu extremists. Welcome to Incredible India, where a journalist can be locked up for documenting a crime against women even as millions express outrage over medieval mindsets following the fatal gang rape of a Delhi student in December.

January 8, 2013 12:27 PM ET

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Blog   |   Pakistan

Pakistan's problematic record on Internet restrictions

The fleeting nature of YouTube's availability in Pakistan this weekend--the site, which has been banned in the country since September, was unblocked for a whole three minutes--is only the latest emblem of Islamabad's erratic and confounding approach to Internet censorship. Those who have been hoping for less opaque tactics apparently are in for disappointment.

January 3, 2013 11:20 AM ET

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