Attacks on the Press in 2007

Attacks on the Press   |   Morocco

Attacks on the Press 2007: Morocco


Press freedom continued its downward slide, belying Morocco’s carefully
burnished image as a liberalizing country with a free press. Outspoken journalists found themselves in court, in prison, or out of work following a rash of politicized court cases, while the government of King Mohammed VI unveiled a restrictive new press bill. On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, CPJ designated Morocco as one of the world’s worst backsliders on press freedom.
February 5, 2008 10:48 AM ET

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2007: Niger

President Mamadou Tandja pledged in January that his government would not obstruct the press, but journalists in Niger faced threats and restrictions as the military tried to repress a budding Tuareg insurgency in the north. In a country that has suffered devastating famines in recent years, food shortages remained another sensitive topic for the press. Local journalists continued to face the threat of jail time for critical reporting under Niger's 1999 media law, despite a promise in January by then-Prime Minister Hama Amadou that a long-discussed bill to decriminalize press offenses would be introduced in parliament. Amadou resigned in June following a parliamentary no-confidence vote, and his successor, Seyni Oumarou, did not indicate whether he would follow up on the issue.
February 5, 2008 10:44 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Nigeria

Attacks on the Press 2007: Nigeria

Nigeria’s diverse and freewheeling press weathered a tense political
period in 2007, a year marked by fierce disputes surrounding April presidential and legislative elections and a surge of violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. Ruling party candidate Umaru Yar’Adua was declared winner of the April 21 presidential vote, the first transfer of power between two elected civilian leaders in Nigerian history. The elections were marred, however, by serious logistical flaws, widespread violence, and falsification of results. A report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group concluded that the election was “poorly organized and massively rigged.” The private press was harassed and intimidated by authorities in the run-up to the vote, starting in spring 2006 when the media took a leading role in opposing outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo’s unsuccessful attempt to amend the constitution so he could seek a third term. Yar’Adua, a former governor from northern Nigeria who was largely unknown at the national level before being nominated as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, sought to smooth tensions by inviting his erstwhile rivals to join a “government of national unity” and making peace in the Delta the cornerstone of domestic policy.
February 5, 2008 10:43 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Pakistan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Pakistan

The December 27 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto plunged the nation into further turmoil after months of violent unrest and a bitterly contested state of emergency. An aggressive domestic press corps was in the middle of the momentous events, questioning government assertions and being targeted by government censorship.

Attacks on the Press   |   Philippines

Attacks on the Press 2007: Philippines


Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno told a visiting CPJ delegation in July that he would personally seek justice for the unsolved killings of journalists and use his judicial authority to better protect press freedom. “The fact that the killings remain unsolved heightens public distrust in our system of justice,” Puno told CPJ. The senior judge was fresh off a national summit that he had convened to examine a rash of extrajudicial killings committed nationwide in recent years.
February 5, 2008 10:39 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Russia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Russia


Constitutional constraints posed little problem for a term-limited President Vladimir Putin, who appeared certain to hold power long after his tenure was due to end in 2008. The popular, two-term president hopped into the parliamentary race in the fall, topping the dominant United Russia ticket that took 64 percent of the vote in a December 2 election. Eight days later, Putin endorsed First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to be his successor, smoothing his protégé’s road to the March 2008 presidential election. Medvedev returned the favor by announcing that, as president, he would name Putin prime minister—a post likely to carry greater powers given United Russia’s control of parliament.

Attacks on the Press   |   Rwanda

Attacks on the Press 2007: Rwanda

Tension remained high between the independent news media and President Paul Kagame’s government in the run-up to the 2008 parliamentary elections. Authorities summarily closed two private newspapers, stripped critical newspapers of vital advertising revenue, and jailed one journalist and harassed others in response to critical coverage. The bloody legacy of the 1994 genocide continued to affect press freedom as the government and its supporters invoked claims of hate speech to silence dissenting voices.
February 5, 2008 10:37 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Somalia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Somalia

Attacks had become so pervasive in this conflict-riven state that the National Union of Somali Journalists described 2006 as "the most dangerous year for press freedom for more than a decade." Then came 2007--a year in which conditions grew dramatically worse.

With seven journalists killed in direct relation to their work, Somalia was the deadliest place for the press in Africa and second only to Iraq worldwide. The deaths came amid widespread violence in this Horn of Africa state, which has had no effective central government since 1991. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that nearly 600,000 people had fled during the year, as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopian troops, clashed repeatedly with the militias of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a coalition of fundamentalist law courts that had held power for six months in 2006.

Attacks on the Press   |   Sri Lanka

Attacks on the Press 2007: Sri Lanka


In May, senior journalist Iqbal Athas wrote to CPJ warning that press freedom conditions had deteriorated under President Mahinda Rajapaksa. By September, Athas, a well-known defense correspondent for The Sunday Times of Sri Lanka and a 1994 CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner, had to leave the country temporarily in fear for his safety after angering officials with a story about the corruption-ridden purchase of MiG-27 fighter jets from Ukraine. That departure was not the first time Athas had fled Sri Lanka for his safety, but it was indicative of the pressures facing journalists who dared to take on the government.


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