It is a sad end to 2013 for the global press freedom community.
With the sudden death of CPJ Mexico Representative Mike O'Connor, 67, on Sunday, Mexican journalists have lost one of their most formidable advocates. Mike will be remembered as someone who was on the forefront of the struggle for press freedom. His superb skills as an investigative journalist helped scores of reporters across the country during a period marred by violence and censorship.
Nairobi, December 30, 2013--An Ethiopian court convicted a journalist on December 25 on the charge of spreading false rumors and sentenced him to two years and nine months in prison, according to local journalists.
The conflict in Syria, a spike in Iraqi bloodshed, and political violence in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed on the job in 2013. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
This year, CPJ researchers confirmed that at least 29 journalists died while covering the Syrian conflict. How did we arrive at that number?
In recent years, Arab journalists have been taking great risks to report important stories in a region where war and civil unrest remain an ever-present threat. Many are operating without proper equipment or safety training in how to recognize and mitigate the various risks they face.
New York, December 27, 2013--The Ukrainian government must ensure that a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation is conducted in the brutal attack early Wednesday on prominent journalist Tetyana Chornovol, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Chornovol remains hospitalized in the capital, Kiev, with a concussion and multiple head injuries.
New York, December 27, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called for the immediate release of an Indian journalist and filmmaker who was arrested in Sri Lanka on Wednesday while allegedly filming and photographing a military base.
"They even started shooting through my house--I had to lie on the floor with my wife and kids," Angelo Wello, a freelance journalist for faith-based news sites and a pastor, told me. Like many residents of the capital of Juba, South Sudan, Angelo has found it incredibly hard to get accurate information and report on one of the most tragic, restive periods in South Sudan's short history. And, like other South Sudanese journalists, he has to weigh his work against safeguarding his own and his family's safety.
New York, December 23, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's attack on Salah al-Din TV station headquarters in Tikrit, Iraq, which left several journalists dead. The attack comes amid a wave of targeted killings of journalists in the past few months that has made the country among the deadliest in the world for journalists.
New York, December 20, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's conviction by Moscow's Lyublinsky court of Russian businessman Pavel Sopot for inciting the 2000 murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Igor Domnikov. The court sentenced Sopot to a seven-year term in a high-security prison, and ordered him to pay the journalist's widow 1 million rubles (US$30,317) in compensation.
Bangkok, December 20, 2013--A Burmese journalist was sentenced to three months in prison on Tuesday on charges of defamation, trespassing, and "using abusive language," according to local news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns the conviction and calls on the court to reverse the verdict on appeal.
Bangkok, December 20, 2013--The Royal Thai Navy should immediately drop the criminal defamation charges lodged on Wednesday against two journalists in connection with a report on alleged military abuses of ethnic Rohingya people, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police arrested Mohamed Ibrahim, a journalist for the pro-opposition news website and radio station, La Voix de Djibouti (The Voice of Djibouti), on December 12, 2013, while he was covering a protest in the Balbala suburb of the capital, Djibouti City, according to local journalists.
The demonstration was staged by women demanding land plots that had been promised by the government after authorities demolished residences in their neighborhood, the journalists said.
Istanbul, December 19, 2013--A Turkish journalist is the latest reporter to be abducted in Syria, where approximately 30 journalists are missing, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Bünyamin Aygün, a photojournalist for the daily Milliyet, was abducted in November, but the case was not made public before this week.
With its low budget décor and grainy images, EUTV has the look and feel of small-town community television. But the Web-based TV station that went live on November 18 has much larger ambitions: It intends to be the primary source for Venezuelans who covet independent television news.
New York, December 18, 2013--Argentine authorities should immediately release a journalist who has been detained for more than a week and accused of sedition, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police detained two journalists of the Daily Nation on December 12, 2013, and released them on bail the next day. Richard Sakala, owner and editor of the paper, and Simon Mwanza, the production editor, were charged with "publication of false information with intent to cause public alarm" under Section 67 of the Zambian penal code.
For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
For the second year in a row, our prison census shows, Turkey jailed more journalists than any other country. The number of journalists behind bars is 40; down from the 61 reporters in October 2012, and less than the 49 we recorded on December 1, 2012. Still, Turkey holds more journalists in custody than Iran, China, or Eritrea.
Nairobi, December 16, 2013--Police in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland on December 13 raided the Hargeisa offices of the critical independent daily Hubaal, arrested two staff members, and ordered the publication to be shut down, according to news reports. This is the third time the paper has been targeted this year.
For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of journalists murdered around the world are local reporters working in their own country, covering human rights, corruption, conflict and politics. In nine out of ten of these murders, no one is ever prosecuted.
On Monday, eight of the world's leading technology companies set aside their rivalries to issue a direct challenge to U.S. lawmakers: lead the world by example and fix America's broken surveillance state. Although the tech companies' statement sends a powerful message, notably absent from the letter's signatories is the appearance of a single telecommunications company, or telco.
The concept of network neutrality holds that all Internet traffic should be treated equal and that Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, should serve as free-flowing gateways for information rather than as filters. But in politically polarized Venezuela, neutrality is an increasingly rare commodity and now ISPs are feeling the heat.
Everyone agreed at the panel discussion I took part in yesterday in Washington that the fate of about two dozen journalists working for The New York Times and Bloomberg News in China is unresolved. No one knows what will happen by the ostensible deadline of midnight, December 31, 2013, for their expulsion. I say ostensible, because maybe the deadline can be extended under some arcane rule known only to China's immigration officials. For now, those journalists are dangling in what has come to be called "visa purgatory," a term attributed to me but which really came from one of those journalists in purgatory, that is to say, waiting in Beijing for his visa to be renewed, with whom I spoke recently.
Police arrested four journalists on December 3, 2013, and detained them for nearly a week for covering a peaceful protest in the capital of the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland, according to local journalists and human rights organizations.
New York, December 12, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Lebanese Court of Cassation to overturn the conviction of Rami Aysha, a Lebanese-Palestinian freelance journalist charged with purchasing firearms while he was investigating arms trafficking from Lebanon to Syria.
Bangkok, December 12, 2013--A radio reporter was shot dead in the Philippines on Wednesday, marking the third journalist to be killed in the past two weeks in the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to uphold the rule of law and bring an end to the killing spree of journalists that is under way across the country.
Unidentified assailants threw an explosive device at the house of a Peruvian journalist at 2 a.m. on December 10, 2013, according to news reports.
In an unprecedented step, more than a dozen international news organizations have signed a joint letter to the Syrian armed opposition about the "disturbing rise in the kidnapping of journalists" in Syria, which has led many outlets to reduce their coverage of the conflict out of safety concerns. The organizations urge the Syrian armed opposition leadership "to assist in identifying those groups currently holding journalists and take the steps necessary to bring about their release."
New York, December 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports a Malian website based in Paris has been threatened by Mali's government after posting an Associated Press (AP) story today implicating Malian soldiers in extrajudicial killings.
New York, December 10, 2013--Indian authorities must conduct a swift and efficient investigation into the murder of a veteran journalist on Friday, and ensure the perpetrators are held responsible, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Bangkok, December 10, 2013--Radio broadcaster Michael Diaz Milo was shot dead on Saturday, marking the second journalist to be killed in a week in the Philippines, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Philippine authorities to identify the perpetrators and swiftly bring them to justice.
Dear Counselor Barakat: On November 26, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, a demonstration of the deep level of global concern. The only way to break the cycle of impunity is to bring to justice the killers of journalists, something Egypt has failed to do. Egypt is ranked second on CPJ's list of the deadliest countries for journalists in 2013.
New York, December 10, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the immediate release of two Spanish journalists who were abducted in Syria almost three months ago. Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova have been held captive by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) since September 16, the families of the journalists announced today.
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.
Bangkok, December 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on both Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government and opposition groups to respect the role of the press in the lead-up to elections scheduled for February 2. Both sides have failed to uphold basic press freedoms as anti-government protests have intensified in recent weeks, CPJ said today.
The Iraqi city of Mosul is once again one of the world's deadliest places for journalists. In the past two months, the capital of Nineveh province has witnessed a series of targeted assassinations that, according to local press freedom groups, have led to an exodus of journalists from the city fearing for their safety.
Nairobi, December 5, 2013--Kenya's National Assembly today passed contentious anti-press legislation, the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Act and the Media Council Act, which will effectively silence critical reporting through a new government-controlled regulator and the threat of hefty fines.
A prime minister says a newspaper has damaged national security and calls for its editor to be brought before Parliament; his government tells the same paper there has been "enough" debate on an issue and sends its security officials into the paper's offices to smash discs containing journalistic material; lawmakers call for the editor's prosecution and accuse the paper of treason; the paper is forced to spirit its stories out of the country to ensure publication overseas.
Photo credit, Barbara Nitke (CPJ)
Journalists honored at CPJ's annual award ceremony
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef was among four journalists who received CPJ's 2013 International Press Freedom Award on November 26. Youssef has used humor to report on and criticize government failures to improve the economy and public services, and its efforts to suppress opinion. In November, Youssef's show was suspended.
"Freedom of expression is not a privilege; it is a universal right," Youssef told the crowd gathered at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. "Now, you don't have to be a journalist or a reporter. You can just be an ordinary citizen with a camera and a YouTube channel. This is how we started. I don't know how this will end. ... But at least this is how we started."
CPJ also awarded Janet Hinostroza, a leading TV reporter in Ecuador, who has continued to work despite threats to her and her family; Nedim Şener, who faces up to 15 years in jail on terrorism charges because of his reporting; and Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, who was not present at the ceremony because he is serving a 12-year prison sentence for "conducting propaganda" against the state.
Thanks to Dan Doctoroff, chief executive officer and president of Bloomberg, who chaired the ceremony, the dinner raised a record $1.65 million for CPJ's worldwide press freedom advocacy. Many of the distinguished guests at the event also pledged support during a special appeal at the end of the night. Those funds were matched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, contributing another $200,000.
Norman Pearlstine, executive vice president and chief content officer of Time Inc., presented Paul Steiger, founding editor-in-chief of ProPublica and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for his lifetime commitment to press freedom.
To the group of developed democracies, such as Britain and the United States, each with increasingly restrictive attitudes toward press freedom, add Japan, which appears to be on the brink of passing a new state secrets protection law. If passed by the upper house of the Diet today, it would broaden the criteria the government uses to determine which information will be secret. Jake Adelstein, a Tokyo-based reporter who has blogged several times for CPJ, calls it "an ominous new bill" which would "give the government expanded powers to classify nearly anything as a secret and intimidate the press into silence."
It is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a journalist. Nearly every month, the digital security landscape shifts--new surveillance concerns are unearthed and freshly drafted laws are introduced that seek to curb freedom of expression under the guise of national security.
New York, December 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of a reporter working for Al-Arabiya news channel who, along with two crewmembers, was abducted by Islamist militants 18 months ago.
On November 13, 2013, the state-run media regulatory board High Council on Freedom of Communication (CSLC), suspended three private weeklies from circulation for nine months in connection with articles they published that were critical of the authorities, according to news reports. The 11 members of the council are hand-picked by the president and have the authority to suspend news outlets, according to CPJ research.
"Mr. President, you gagged us!" said a banner tied to the gates of Parliament today. Kenya's Editors Guild and the Kenya Correspondents' Association organized peaceful demonstrations across the country to protest a media bill currently under parliamentary review. Protests were held in every county in the country, according to William Janak, chairman of the correspondents' association, including roughly 80 to 100 protesters in the port-city of Mombasa, 100 in the central city of Kisumu, and 400 in the capital, Nairobi.
New York, December 3, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned by a new state secrets bill before the Japanese parliament, which, if passed, would broaden the government's power to determine which information can be kept secret.
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.
Amid skyrocketing inflation and shortages of basic goods, Venezuelan authorities claim that an "economic war" is being waged against the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro. The government is striking back by forcing stores to discount prices, by arresting business owners accused of hoarding--and by targeting journalists trying to cover the grim economic news.
For all the people who have been working on the problem of impunity for so long, the announcement on November 26 that the Third Committee of the United Nation's General Assembly had passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, setting November 2 as the "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists," was welcome news.
A video report by a Euronews cameraman shows him being attacked by police during clashes in Kiev. (YouTube/Euronews)
New York, December 2, 2013--At least 51 journalists were attacked while covering protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and other cities over the weekend, according to news reports and local journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attacks and calls on Ukrainian authorities to ensure that journalists are free to cover political developments.
New York, December 2, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the reported targeting of journalists covering protests in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
New York, December 2, 2013--Philippine authorities must identify the perpetrators behind the fatal shooting of radio journalist Joas Dignos on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Dignos was a local radio commentator, according to news reports.
As Alan Rusbridger appears Tuesday before the Home Affairs committee of the U.K. Parliament to give evidence regarding the Guardian's coverage of surveillance activities by the U.S. and U.K. governments, British journalists and analysts say that newspaper's legal troubles are worrying in large part because they come against the backdrop of increased regulation and scrutiny of the wider industry.
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.