Attacks on the Press   |   Argentina

Attacks on the Press 2009: Argentina

Top Developments
• New broadcast law sparks contentious debate, raises concerns.
• In major victory, criminal defamation laws are repealed.

Key Statistic
200: Tax agents who raided Clarín in apparent reprisal for the newspaper’s coverage.

Press freedom advocates won two important victories as congress decriminalized defamation, and a federal court issued a ruling that, while still under appeal, could lead to the dismantling of the government’s manipulative distribution of official advertising. But those advances were obscured by a contentious debate over broadcast regulatory legislation backed by the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The measure, signed into law in October and immediately challenged in court, apportioned broadcast frequencies among private, government, and nonprofit outlets, while creating a new regulatory body.

February 16, 2010 12:51 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Brazil

Attacks on the Press 2009: Brazil

Top Developments
• Judges in defamation cases issue sweeping censorship orders.
• Ex-police officers convicted in abduction, torture of O Dia journalists.

Key Statistic
44: Defamation lawsuits filed by a single congressman. Complaints target dozens of journalists for critical coverage.

In a major advance for press freedom, Brazil’s highest court struck down a repressive 1967 law that criminalized broad swaths of sensitive reporting and set harsh potential penalties. But defamation laws remained a concern as penal code provisions allowed prison penalties for libel and slander. And a flood of civil defamation cases continued unabated, in some cases leading lower courts to issue censorship orders that barred news media from covering public issues, including alleged corruption involving government officials and business people.

February 16, 2010 12:46 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Colombia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Colombia

Top Developments
• Provincial journalists face threats from all sides in civil conflict.
• Convictions gained in one journalist murder; progress reported in other cases.

Key Statistic
2003: Year that national intelligence agents began spying on journalists and other critics.

The strained relationship between the government and the Bogotá-based independent press worsened after news media revealed that the national intelligence agency had been spying on leading critics, including journalists. The press continued to be caught in the middle of the ongoing civil conflict as officials made loaded accusations and far-right paramilitary and leftist guerrilla groups terrorized provincial reporters. In an important step in the fight against impunity, a court convicted the masterminds in a 2003 journalist killing. While CPJ research has shown a gradual decline in journalist murders over the last five years, one reporter was slain in reprisal for his work in 2009.

February 16, 2010 12:43 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Cuba

Attacks on the Press 2009: Cuba

Top Developments
• Vibrant blogging culture emerges despite severe Internet restrictions.
• Jailed journalists suffer amid inhumane conditions.

Key Statistic
22: Reporters and editors in jail as of December 1.

Cuba was hit hard by the global economic crisis and endured an upheaval in its highest offices, but state-controlled news media delivered superficial and skewed coverage. Human rights conditions, including press freedom, remained at a standstill: Independent journalists faced ongoing harassment, and more than 20 reporters and editors remained in jail. But offering a flicker of hope for freedom of expression on the island, a growing community of independent bloggers maneuvered around legal, economic, and technological limitations to describe everyday experiences and express opinions that challenged the regime’s perspective.

Attacks on the Press   |   Ecuador

Attacks on the Press 2009: Ecuador

Top Developments
• Correa assails news media, and regulators target critical outlets.
• Media legislation could restrict freedom of expression.

Key Statistic
3: Days that regulators ordered Teleamazonas off the air.

Re-elected by a landslide in April, President Rafael Correa intensified his attacks on critical news media, calling them ignorant and deceitful. As Correa used his weekly radio address to assail the press, his administration singled out critical outlets for regulatory action. Legislators were debating media legislation that would restrict freedom of expression, and two journalists were imprisoned during the year on defamation charges.

February 16, 2010 12:39 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Honduras

Attacks on the Press 2009: Honduras

Top Developments
• Coup damages press freedom, reveals partisan media divide.
• Supporters of both sides in the conflict wage attacks on the press.

Key Statistic
22: Days that Radio Globo and Canal 36 were off the air due to government censorship.

The June coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, along with the bitter stalemate that ensued, damaged press freedom in Honduras and heightened partisan divisions in the news media. An interim government cracked down on news coverage and withstood intense international pressure until a scheduled November presidential election brought Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, a conservative businessman, to office. As Lobo pledged reconciliation, Zelaya decried the vote as tainted.

February 16, 2010 12:34 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Mexico

Attacks on the Press 2009: Mexico

Top Developments
• Amid threats and attacks, self-censorship becomes more pervasive.
• Congress stalls on reforms to combat violence against the press.

Key Statistic
9: Journalists missing since 2005. Most had covered crime and corruption.

The deepening influence of organized crime and the government’s inability to curb worsening violence left the news media wide open to attack. In the last 10 years alone, CPJ research shows, 32 editors and reporters have been killed, at least 11 in direct reprisal for their work. Nine more journalists have disappeared since 2005. Most of those targeted had covered organized crime, drug trafficking, or government corruption—topics that journalists say they increasingly avoid in fear of reprisal. Reforms that would impose special penalties for attacks on the press and give the federal government broad authority to prosecute crimes against free expression were stalled in Congress.

Attacks on the Press   |   Nicaragua

Attacks on the Press 2009: Nicaragua

Top Developments
• Ortega administration marginalizes private media.
• Authorities use legal harassment, smears against critics.

Key Statistic
0: Number of press conferences held by Ortega since taking office.

Three decades after a revolution swept the Sandinistas into power, the government of President Daniel Ortega still cast private media as enemies and moved forcefully to curtail their influence. Ortega—who led the 1979 uprising against the Somoza dictatorship and reclaimed the presidency in 2006 elections—employed a range of tactics to marginalize the press, including legal persecution, smear campaigns to discredit adversaries, and manipulation of state advertising to punish critical outlets.

February 16, 2010 12:24 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   USA

Attacks on the Press 2009: United States

Top Developments
• Authorities hold Iraqi journalist without charge or due process.
• Obama, Congress send encouraging messages on press freedom

Key Statistic
10: Days that U.S. immigration officials detained a VOA reporter during a visa dispute.

The administration made encouraging statements in support of press freedom—including remarks by President Barack Obama on World Press Freedom Day—but the U.S. military continued to jail one overseas journalist without charge or due process. U.S. forces in Iraq were holding Ibrahim Jassam, a freelance photojournalist working for Reuters, despite a local court order that he be released. The military asserted that Jassam posed a threat, but it disclosed no evidence. In September, on the anniversary of Jassam’s 2008 detention, CPJ called on U.S. military forces to either charge or release the journalist.

February 16, 2010 12:09 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2009: Venezuela

Top Developments
• Regulators strip licenses from critical broadcasters.
• Government wages politicized investigation into Globovisión.

Key Statistic
34: Private radio and television stations pulled from the air.

After scoring a major victory in a February referendum that granted indefinite presidential re-election, President Hugo Chávez Frías and his government intensified their years-long crackdown on the private media. The government’s regulatory body took unprecedented steps to target critical broadcasters. Arbitrary decisions stripped private radio stations of their licenses, while a series of investigations threatened to shut down Venezuela’s remaining critical television broadcaster, Globovisión. In the country’s interior, an outspoken government critic was jailed, and an investigative reporter was slain in direct reprisal for his work.

February 16, 2010 12:07 AM ET



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