A week before Sunday's crucial presidential elections in Mexico, CPJ participated on a panel with filmmaker Bernardo Ruíz and Mexican journalist Sergio Haro about the perilous conditions for journalists in that country, where CPJ research shows 48 journalists have been murdered or disappeared since outgoing President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006.
New York, June 29, 2012--Chinese censors should unblock the website of the Bloomberg news agency, which became inaccessible today following a story on the vice president's family and its financial assets, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
With ratings driving the profits of media channels, journalists and political talk show hosts are being motivated to stir up controversy at any cost. Meanwhile, the professionals who believe in credibility, objectivity, and honesty as essential parts of ethical journalism are becoming sidelined.
New York, June 29, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Sri Lanka to immediately stop harassing news outlets. Police in Colombo raided the offices of two opposition news websites today, arresting nine people and confiscating equipment, according to news reports.
Ethiopia has always been a country at the cutting edge of Internet censorship in Africa. In the wake of violence after the 2005 elections, when other states were only beginning to recognize the potential for online reporters to bypass traditional pressures, Meles Zenawi's regime was already blocking major news sites and blog hosts such as blogspot.com. Some sites and Web addresses have been blocked for their reporting ever since, including exiled media like Addis Neger Online and Awramba Times.
Habi Baby, an editor of the weekly Caravane, was arrested by soldiers at his home in Bamako, the capital, on June 12, 2012, after he published a story critical of Mali's security forces, according to local journalists and news reports.
A flurry of research on Weibo censorship underscores what we already know about the Chinese company Sina's microblog service--with a few surprises thrown in.
Police in Lagos, the commercial capital, assaulted at least 10 journalists and confiscated their equipment on April 4, 2012, according to news reports. The journalists were covering a coroner's inquest into a 2010 traffic accident, the reports said.
East African journalists flee violence
CPJ's Journalists in Exile report, released on June 19 ahead of World Refugee Day, found that African reporters fleeing violence in their countries make up nearly half of the 463 journalists forced into exile over the past five years. More than a quarter of the 57 journalists who fled their homes this year came from an East African nation, CPJ research shows.
Four East African countries--Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Rwanda--rank among the top 10 of the list. CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program, in its work to optimize advocacy and logistical and financial support, is making a special effort to help East African journalists deal with this crisis.
Bogotá, June 28, 2012--Bolivian authorities must investigate attacks on three local radio stations in the past two weeks that have caused the broadcasters to go off the air, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Nairobi, June 27, 2012--Today's conviction of six Ethiopian journalists on vague terrorism charges is an affront to the rule of law and the constitution in the Horn of Africa country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least 11 journalists have been charged with terrorism since November 2011, according to CPJ research.
New York, June 27, 2012--A number of employees for the pro-government Syrian television station Al-Ikhbariya were killed when the station was attacked by gunmen this morning, according to the official news agency Sana. Other employees were reported wounded or kidnapped, the agency said.
New York, June 27, 2012-The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's conviction of Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega on baseless terrorism charges. "The Ethiopian government has once again succeeded in misusing the law to silence critical and independent reporting," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "The charges against Eskinder are baseless and politically motivated in reprisal for his writings. His conviction reiterates that Ethiopia will not hesitate to punish a probing press by imprisoning journalists or pushing them into exile."
The story sounds hideously like another--one of a chaotic, predatory attack on a woman journalist in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Clothes torn from her body, hundreds of men surging to grab her breasts and claw at her. A woman wondering, "Maybe this is how I go, how I die." It has been almost a year and a half since CBS correspondent and CPJ board member Lara Logan endured an attack like this. Now, an independent journalist and student named Natasha Smith reports that it has happened to her.
New York, June 26, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns personal attacks made by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on Gustavo Cortez, editor of the leading daily El Universo.
New York, June 26, 2012--Belarusian authorities should immediately release a critical journalist who was tried, convicted and sentenced to prison in a single day on a vague charge of hooliganism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. In an unrelated incident, a Belarus correspondent for the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta received a threatening package in the mail, the paper reported.
New York, June 26, 2012--Peruvian authorities must investigate a violent attack on a local TV journalist and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, June 25, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's attack on the offices of a Pakistani television outlet and calls on authorities to immediately investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Abuja, Nigeria, June 25, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Gambian authorities to immediately release or charge a journalist who has been in detention without charge longer than the country's limit of 72 hours.
Abdulhamid Adiamoh, the managing editor of the Today newspaper, was arrested Wednesday in connection with an opinion article, "Counsel sidesteps issues in cross-examination of [vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia ] Professor Kah," in which he criticized a defense lawyer in the criminal trial of a former lecturer at the university.
New York, June 25, 2012--Authorities in Azerbaijan must drop the charges against journalist Hilal Mamedov and immediately release him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mamedov is the eighth journalist jailed in Azerbaijan, according to CPJ research.
When Thomas Peele came into the CPJ offices last week to discuss Killing the Messenger, his book about the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey, he described a story that was layered with scandal, including a polygamous cult, bankruptcy, kidnapping, rape, a flawed confession, leaked evidence, and secret alliances--not to mention the aggressive attack on a free press. Peele, motivated in part by the blatant demonstration of corruption in the investigation into Bailey's death, intended to reveal the truth about the circumstances surrounding the case. Accompanying Peele at CPJ was our own senior adviser for journalist security, Frank Smyth, who became involved in the case as a CPJ representative.
Some journalists continue to receive the warning from Google about state-sponsored attacks that we mentioned last week. The message appears on top of logged-in services like Gmail. Occasionally it will disappear for a few hours and then reappear, but there is no way to remove it.
New York, June 22, 2012--Mexican crime journalist Stephania Cardoso, who had been missing with her son since June 8, is now under the protection of the federal government, a Mexican official has told CPJ.
At a Bishkek roundtable Tuesday called "The Fourth Estate: Rule of the Game," Almambet Shykmamatov, Kyrgyzstan's justice minister, encouraged local reporters to expose government corruption, local press reported. The minister said authorities would follow up on such reports, grant security to investigative journalists, and might even pay them up to 20 percent of the funds that corrupt officials return to state coffers.
New York, June 21, 2012--Authorities in Belarus must drop the charges against a prominent journalist arrested today for libel against the president, and immediately release him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Andrzej Poczobut has been targeted in the past for his critical writing, CPJ research shows.
Cairo, June 21, 2012--At least three journalists have been briefly detained and interrogated by Sudanese authorities since Tuesday, according to news reports. The journalists were covering recent protests against rising fuel prices in Khartoum, the reports said.
Last week, Tarun Sehrawat, a 22-year-old Indian photographer for Tehelka magazine, died from cerebral malaria and its complications, according to several of his colleagues and media accounts. He had returned, ill, from a shooting assignment with Tehelka's reporter Tusha Mittal in May. The team had been covering the ongoing Maoist revolt in Chhattisgarh in central India and reported it in "Inside Abujmarh The Mythic Citadel." Both Sehrawat and Mittal became very ill, but Sehrawat succumbed. Mittal, we understand, is still recovering.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is watching with concern the progress of H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011, which is under discussion Wednesday in front of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The bill seeks to reduce the number of visas available to journalists (and their families) working in the United States for 13 Chinese state-controlled publications. The aim is to pressure Beijing into allowing more Voice of America reporters into China; VOA staffers tell us that they are allowed only two China visas to cover a country of more than 1.3 billion people.
Nairobi, June 20, 2012--A Burundian appeals court must reverse the ruling against a journalist sentenced to life in prison on vague terrorism charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
A High Court in the eastern town of Cankuzo today found Hassan Ruvakuki, a reporter for local radio station Bonesha FM and French government-funded broadcaster Radio France Internationale, and 13 other defendants guilty of "participating in terrorist attacks" under the country's penal code, Patrick Nduwimana, the interim director at Bonesha FM, told CPJ.
Chinese activists Lü Jiaping, his wife Yu Junyi, and an associate, Jin Andi, were imprisoned in 2010 without their families being informed. The full details of their 2011 trial and sentences were not made public until 2012, according to the English-language Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
The Russian manufacturer promises results. The software can be used to control your own or, say, a customer's computer by making it a remote software client. Or it could be used for spying on others.
Cairo, June 19, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is disturbed by what it sees as a trend in the attack of Lebanese journalists covering clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime. In the past month, at least nine journalists have been attacked in four separate incidents.
Throughout December 2011, HAAC, Benin's state-run media regulatory agency, summoned more than a dozen newspapers to public hearings and handed them sanctions ranging from a public apology to indefinite suspension, according to news reports. HAAC's president is appointed by Benin's head of state, and two-thirds of the agency's members are appointed by the government, CPJ research shows.
CPJ is monitoring with concern the news coverage of Baker Abdulla Atyani, a Pakistan-based Jordanian Al-Arabiya TV journalist, and his two Philippine crew members, Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela, who have been unaccounted for since June 12.
Atyani, Letrero, and Vela left their hotel in Jolo, in the southern Philippines, to interview a commander for the militant Abu Sayyaf, a banned Islamic separatist group in the region, according to local and international news reports. The three refused offers of a security detail from local authorities, the reports said.
Four East African journalists who were forced to flee their countries tell about their experiences, difficulties, and hopes for the future. (3:43)
Read CPJ's report, "Journalists in exile: Crisis in East Africa," for more information about journalists forced to go into exile.
For seven years I lived in Panajachel, a tourist town on the beautiful Atitlán Lake in Guatemala. There, my husband, Juan Miguel Arrivillaga, and I started a family and the independent news outlet Anti Magazine. We also hosted a radio program on the local station Radio Ati.
With the launch of CPJ's most recent exile report, I will have worked exactly three years for our Journalist Assistance program. More than 500 cases later, I have helped journalists who have gone into hiding or exile to escape threats; those in need of medicine and other support while in prison, and journalists injured after violent attacks. The most harrowing accounts of all, however, come from those crossing from Eritrea into Sudan. And things seem to be getting worse, not better.
Nadira Isayeva, a 2010 CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner, has been living in exile since she left her native Dagestan, in Russia's volatile North Caucasus, in November 2011. Isayeva, the editor-in-chief of the independent weekly Chernovik, had been harassed by security forces for her relentless, critical coverage of their heavy-handed anti-terrorism operations in the region. Yet she was hesitant to leave, unable to imagine herself not reporting on these issues.
After fellow human rights advocates finally convinced Isayeva to leave, she came to New York, where she works as a fellow at Columbia University's Harriman Institute. (The interview has been edited).
Fifty-seven journalists fled their country in the past year, with Somalia sending the greatest number into exile. Journalists also fled Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda--mostly for Kenya and Uganda. Exiles in East Africa must grapple with poverty and fear. A CPJ special report by María Salazar-Ferro and Tom Rhodes
Cairo, June 18, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the legal action taken against an Egyptian journalist who was fined for defamation, and calls on the appeals court to reverse the ruling. In an unrelated incident, authorities briefly detained on Saturday an Egyptian journalist covering the run-off to the presidential election.
Abuja, June 18, 2012--Nigerian authorities must investigate the assault on a Nigerian journalist on June 14 and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. News accounts reported that the attack occurred in the presence of military and police officers who did not come to the journalist's aid.
Nairobi, June 15, 2012--A new law in Ethiopia imposes prison sentences for offenses related to the independent use of telecommunications tools and services, according to local journalists and news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by broad and vaguely worded provisions of the law, under which journalists could be prosecuted for the methods they use to circumvent government surveillance and censorship.
Abuja, June 15, 2012--Authorities in Ghana must investigate the assault on a journalist by police while covering a police raid in Ho, the capital of Ghana's Volta region, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Victor Kwawukume, who reports for the state-owned Daily Graphic and is the regional chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, was attacked by four unidentified police officers on June 10 as he covered a raid in Ho in which police arrested suspected criminals and drug peddlers, according to news reports. Kwawukume said he verbally identified himself as a journalist, but the officers attacked him, violently hitting him on the head and seizing his camera, the reports said.
On Wednesday, the same day the White House announced a strategic plan committing the United States to elevating its efforts in "challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes" in sub-Saharan Africa, a senior member of the U.S. Congress challenged the erosion of press freedom in a key U.S. strategic partner in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia.
Julian Koschwitz is doing his part to ensure that the 918 journalists killed for their work since 1992 don't fade into mere numbers.
Mexico City, June 14, 2012--The body of Mexican journalist Víctor Manuel Báez Chino was found today in Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state. He is the fourth journalist to be killed in Veracruz in the past two months.
Báez's body was recovered this morning near the main square in Xalapa, according to news reports. In a televised press conference, the state spokeswoman, Gina Domínguez, said officials received reports that three armed men abducted Báez Wednesday night at 11:30. Báez was the editor of the crime section for the state digital edition of the national newspaper Milenio and an editor of the website Reporteros Policiacos, which also covers crime, according to Milenio.
Moscow, June 14, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Azerbaijani authorities to immediately drop criminal charges against Mehman Huseynov, a photojournalist and blogger with the Baku-based Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and the independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan.
"Bangladeshi democracy [may be] doomed to more of the same," International Crisis Group wrote in a recent commentary. They are describing a longstanding pattern of antagonism between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP), which the Crisis Group describes as "a pernicious cycle of zero-sum politics." If the political situation descends into unrest, journalists covering it will suffer.
Dear President Ahmed Mohamoud Silyano: We are writing to express our alarm over deteriorating conditions for independent journalists in Somaliland. The Committee to Protect Journalists has monitored 58 cases of journalist detentions by authorities since the beginning of the year. We urge you to use your office to reverse this trend of harassment and uphold your 2010 election campaign pledge to respect and improve freedom of the press.
"I'm free but I don't feel free," said Mohamed Abdi Urad, chief editor of Yool, a critical weekly published in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland. Mohamed had just been released on May 22 after a week in detention at Hargeisa Central Police Station. His crime? "I have no idea," he said. Mohamed had attempted to cover a deadly skirmish between civilians and a military unit over a land dispute in the eastern part of the capital, Hargeisa. "The Interior Minister just saw me walking towards the scene and ordered his men to arrest me," he said. A few days later, police released Mohamed unconditionally and without charge.
New York, June 13, 2012--Authorities in Angola's enclave of Cabinda must immediately launch an investigation into the robbery at the home of an independent journalist on Sunday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Unidentified assailants ransacked the house of José Manuel Gimbi, a correspondent of the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America and a human rights lawyer, at around 4 p.m., when no one was at home, the station reported. The assailants stole items related to the journalist's work, including two computers, an external hard drive, a voice recorder, two USB sticks, and a bag containing important documents related to his work, Arão Tempo, a lawyer and Gimbi's mentor, told CPJ. VOA reported that the assailants also stole some personal items, including books and jewelry belonging to Gimbi's wife.
Moscow, June 13, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by reported threats against Sergey Sokolov, deputy editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, by Russia's top investigating official, Aleksandr Bastrykin.
Washington, D.C., June 13, 2012--The Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States has agreed to present CPJ's findings on Azimjon Askarov, a journalist unjustly sentenced to a life term, to the president of Kyrgyzstan after a CPJ delegation met with him today to review the case.
Dear President Atambayev: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention a new report we have issued on Azimjon Askarov, an investigative journalist and human rights defender who was sentenced in September 2010 to life in prison. CPJ's review of Askarov's case, outlined in the attached report, has found that his probe and trial were marred by numerous procedural violations, including his torture in custody and the lack of any evidence implicating him in criminal activity.
CPJ has received an encouraging letter from Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil's permanent representative to the United Nations, affirming the country's support for the UNESCO-led U.N. Plan of Action for Security of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
Some weeks ago, the body of Esmail Amil Enog was found. The corpse had been chopped to pieces and then thrown together in a sack. Enog was a witness in a grisly massacre in November 2009, which took the lives of 57 people, 32 of them journalists, on a stretch of lonely highway in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao. It was the single largest attack on journalists in the world.
New York, June 12, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Ivorian police's assault on a journalist on June 5 and calls on authorities to ensure the officers are brought to justice.
Two officers attacked Cybèle Athangba, a reporter with the daily La Nouvelle, while she was covering a protest of about 100 police officers in front of the police headquarters in the economic capital, Abidjan, according to local journalists and news reports. Athangba was among three journalists who were interviewing officers protesting the alleged embezzlement of funds that had been deducted from their salaries since 2006 to pay for their housing.
On May 25, the Honduran press corps took to the streets of Tegucigalpa and four other cities to reject the growing levels of violence against members of the media. Many marchers donned yellow-and-black t-shirts emblazoned with the words: "Killing journalists will not kill the truth."
Azimjon Askarov, an investigative reporter and human rights defender, had ended careers and embarrassed officials time and again with his reporting on law enforcement abuses in southern Kyrgyzstan. When ethnic unrest broke out in June 2010, authorities struck back with a vengeance. A CPJ special report by Muzaffar Suleymanov
Nairobi, June 11, 2012--A Somali radio journalist was shot by two gunmen in Mogadishu on Friday, according to news reports. Mohamed Nur Mohamed, who was hit twice in the abdomen, survived the attack, the reports said.
Mohamed, a correspondent for Radio Bar-Kulan, a U.N.-sponsored radio broadcaster with headquarters in Nairobi, was walking home in the Hamarjajab neighborhood of the capital when the gunmen attacked him and then fled the scene, local journalists told CPJ. Mohamed's colleagues took him to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition, according to news reports. It is unclear if the attack was related to his work.
Danish Karokhel, who won a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2008, messaged this morning concerned that the news agency he runs, Pajhwok Afghan News, and some other media outlets have been referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Ministry of Information and Culture for reporting on an alleged bribery scandal involving a member of Parliament. The action was taken by the ministry's Media Monitoring Commission, and could lead to criminal charges.
China's state news agency Xinhua published the full text of the state council's National Human Rights Action Plan 2012-15 on Monday. There is no section dedicated to press freedom. But the most striking omissions can be found in the text itself.
Addis Ababa, June 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists and the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) called for the release of journalists being held under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws and requested a review of those laws as they affect freedom of speech.
Joseph Mutebi, a photojournalist for the popular vernacular state-owned daily Bukedde, spent his afternoon trying to file a complaint with the police in the capital, Kampala. "First they told me the officer who assaulted me was based at another station, so I went there and now they are telling me he is based at the police station where I originally went. So I am confused. I think they are just playing with me." Mutebi's case is not uncommon--both in terms of the constant threat journalists face from Uganda's police force and the challenges they encounter trying to file a complaint.
Cairo, June 8, 2012--Five citizen journalists have been killed in Syria while documenting unrest in Damascus and Homs, according to news reports and local journalists. All of the deaths occurred over a two-day period at the end of May.
The last few weeks have offered the strongest indications yet that nation-states are using customized software to exploit security flaws on personal computers and consumer Internet services to spy on their users. The countries suspected include the United States, Israel, and China. Journalists should pay attention--not only because this is a growing story, but because if anyone is a vulnerable target, it's reporters.
New York, June 7, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the final approval yesterday of a constitutional amendment that makes attacks on the press a federal offense in Mexico, a country where journalists are regularly targeted for their work.
Dear Secretary Clinton: We are writing in advance of the third India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue coming up on June 13, which you will co-chair in Washington, D.C., with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. India is host to a vital and thriving news media, but CPJ has documented several violations against Indian journalists that are undermining the country's tradition of a free press.
New York, June 7, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the conviction in the 2011 murder of Salvadoran cameraman Alfredo Antonio Hurtado Núñez, but calls on authorities to ensure that the other gunman charged for the crime is brought to justice.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in opening remarks at her press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, addressed a wide range of problems in Pakistan, including those faced by journalists. (The full statement is on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.) What was especially gratifying was her mention of meeting with human rights defender and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir at her home--a request we made on Tuesday of Pillay and E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who was also on an official trip to Pakistan.
New York, June 6, 2012--An appeals court in Peru must overturn the guilty verdict handed down yesterday to two Peruvian journalists charged with defamation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Talking about genocide prevention in the shadow of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps brings an intense and unique gravity to the discussions. The academic presentations cannot extract themselves from the looming presence of the barbed wires and grim towers surrounding the Nazis' most infamous death factory.
In China, people know enough not to take to the streets to commemorate the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Beijing is very quiet in the days before and after June 4. The Internet is a different story.
The New Delhi-based Tehelka magazine published an open letter by imprisoned freelance journalist Lingaram Kodopi on Monday. Kodopi, one of the two journalists CPJ documented in prison in India on December 1, 2011, has been held without charge since September 2011 as a suspected associate of insurgent Maoists in Chhattisgarh. His supporters believe he faces harassment for documenting police violence in the region.
There is no better time than now for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton to step out of their tightly planned schedule of meetings in Pakistan and make a trip to the home of human rights activist Asma Jahangir.
South African journalist and arts critic Charl Blignaut made what turned out to be an excellent prediction. "Of all the work on show, it's this depiction of the president that will set the most tongues wagging and most likely generate some howls of disapproval," he wrote on May 13 in a review of an art exhibition in Johannesburg.
How far has democracy advanced in Cambodia?
Not very far.
Activists from three different political parties died during the 15-day campaign period leading up to the elections, in which the ruling Cambodian People's Party won a large majority of seats, according to a report issued by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel). The Phnom Penh Post ran articles on "allegations of intimidation, ghost voting, and electoral-roll sabotage" in the election, and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA) published a story headlined "Observers: Cambodian Vote Improved but Problems Remain."
For a good historical perspective on the abuse of journalists in Sri Lanka, Iqbal Athas, the recipient of a 1994 International Press Freedom Award from CPJ, wrote a center-page spread for the 25th anniversary edition of the Sunday Times, a popular weekly in Colombo. Athas, a critical journalist who specializes in defense issues, works as an associate editor and defense correspondent for the Times.
The lede to his article recounts a 1998 incident in which armed men invaded his home while he, his wife, and their seven-year-old daughter watched television. After the men left, the story spread, and all night, they received phone calls from friends and acquaintances inquiring about their safety. In his article, Athas describes how one of the callers was then-Minister of Fisheries Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa was trying to make a name for himself as a champion of human rights and offered his support to the Athas family.
The climate of impunity that fostered the November 23, 2009, massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists, is alive and well not only on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where the massacre took place, but in all of the country. The revelation that the brutalized body of a key witness to the killings, Esmail Enog, was found two months after he had gone missing is an indicator of that. Enog testified last year that he had driven gunmen to the site of the November massacre, news reports said. The killings wiped out almost an entire generation of journalists in the region.
Former Attorney General Mohan Peiris has been ordered to testify about a statement he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011, in which he said that Prageeth Eknelygoda was alive and living outside the country (see "Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen"). Peiris will have to appear at the Homogama Magistrate's Court in Colombo on June 5, next Tuesday, which has been hearing the case brought by Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, to learn more about his disappearance on January 24, 2010.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.