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Czech Republic


The Committee to Protect Journalists this week joined a campaign spearheaded by Human Rights Watch and Uzbek human rights defenders urging Czech President Milos Zeman to cancel Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov's visit to Prague. Zeman had invited Karimov to visit this month despite the Central Asian leader's notorious intolerance to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and Uzbekistan's abysmal human rights record, which includes the Andijan massacre of May 2005.

When it comes to press freedom offenders, the Czech Republic is not among the countries that come to mind. So what happened to the main national television channel on March 11 left many flabbergasted. I arrived in Prague that day with a group of New York University graduate students to participate in a weeklong series of seminars with local journalists and media organizations. While we were discussing work conditions for Czech media, military police in ski masks were storming Czech Television offices.

April 2009

News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

Overview
by Alex Lupis


Authoriatarian rulers strengthened their hold on power in many former Soviet republics in 2004. Their secretive, centralized governments aggressively suppressed all forms of independent activity, from journalism and human rights monitoring to religious activism and political opposition.
New York, January 20, 2004--The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns this weekend's attack on Tomas Nemecek, editor-in-chief of the independent weekly Respekt, which is based in the Czech Republic's capital, Prague.

On Saturday, January 17, two unidentified men in their early 20s assaulted Nemecek while he was leaving a grocery store near his home in Prague. The men sprayed tear gas in Nemecek's face, threw him to the ground, and repeatedly kicked him in the head and chest, according to local press reports.
New York, July 1, 2003--A Czech court yesterday convicted the former general secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Karel Srba, of plotting to murder Sabina Slonkova, an investigative reporter for the independent Prague daily Mlada Fronta Dnes.

According to local and international press reports, a regional court in the southern city of Ceske Budejovice convicted Srba of illegal possession of weapons and conspiring to blow up Slonkova with plastic explosives. Srba was sentenced to eight years in a maximum-security prison, the CTK news agency reported.
Despite having joined NATO in 1999 and being a front-runner for European Union membership in 2004, many senior politicians in the Czech Republic remain hostile toward the country's feisty press and regularly obstruct critical media coverage of political scandals.
December 11

Jonathan C. Randal, The Washington Post


The U.N. International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY) ruled to limit compelled testimony from war correspondents. The decision, announced at the tribunal's Appeals Chamber, came in response to the appeal by former Washington Post reporter Jonathan C. Randal, who had been subpoenaed to testify in the case of former Bosnian-Serb housing minister Radoslav Brdjanin, who is facing charges of genocide because of his alleged role in the persecution and expulsion of more than 100,000 non-Serbs during the Bosnian war. The subpoena against Randal was set aside, and he is no longer required to testify.
Emboldened by the growing number of U.S. troops in the country, President Askar Akayev has used the threat of international terrorism as an excuse to curb political dissent and suppress the independent and opposition media in Kyrgyzstan. Compliant courts often issue exorbitant damage awards in politically motivated libel suits, driving even the country's most prominent newspapers to the brink of bankruptcy.
Press freedom is generally respected in Slovenia, but journalists investigating sensitive issues continue to face occasional intimidation or pressure in retaliation for their coverage.
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Contact

Europe and Central Asia

Program Coordinator:
Nina Ognianova

Research Associate:
Muzaffar Suleymanov

nognianova@cpj.org
msuleymanov@cpj.org

Tel: 212-465-1004
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Fax: 212-465-9568

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