Attacks on the Press in 2007


Attacks on the Press   |   Colombia, Iraq, Philippines, Russia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Preface

By Christiane Amanpour

Murder is a terrifying reality for independent journalists around the world. A group or government embarrassed by a critical report hires a gunman rather than a lawyer to silence the messenger. More than 60 journalists were killed for their work in 2007, the second-deadliest year for the press that CPJ has ever documented.

February 5, 2008 12:11 PM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Iraq, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam

Attacks on the Press 2007: Introduction

By Joel Simon

In August 2008, when the Olympic torch is lit in Beijing, more than 20,000 journalists will be on hand to cover the competition between the world's greatest athletes. Behind the scenes, another competition will be taking place. If the Chinese government has its way, this one will remain hidden. It will be a battle over information, and it will have far greater implications for the world than the medal count.
February 5, 2008 12:11 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo

Attacks on the Press 2007: Africa Analysis

When Press Freedom and Democracy Are Out of Step
By Tom Rhodes

Ballots may have replaced bullets in much of Africa since the dawn of this new century, but one of the great political ironies for at least part of the continent has been a loss of press freedom following the voting. Leaders in a large swath of sub-Saharan Africa have drawn approving nods from Western politicians for holding sometimes unprecedented elections. Three such countries are the Gambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Ethiopia. All have democratically elected presidents and Western support. Yet between them they hold the unenviable record of placing at or near the top of CPJ's 2007 list of the world's worst backsliders on press freedom.
February 5, 2008 12:10 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2007: Americas Analysis

Preaching Without A Choir
By Carlos Lauría

At June's annual assembly of the organization of American states (OAS) in Panama, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged foreign ministers to send the group's secretary-general, José Miguel Insulza, to investigate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías' decision to pull the plug on the country's oldest private television station, RCTV.
February 5, 2008 12:09 PM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan, France, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ukraine

Attacks on the Press 2007: Asia Analysis

Amid South Asian Conflict, Remarkable Resilience
By Bob Dietz

Traffic is sparse during a late-night run to the Bandaranaike International Airport north of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Because of insecurity caused by war between the Sinhalese-dominated government and Tamil separatists in the country's north and east, the streets are given over to police and army checkpoints. On this September night, the air still foggy from the day's monsoon, reporter Iqbal Athas rides in a rental car, on his way to catch a Thai Airways flight that would take him to Bangkok. An award-winning defense columnist for the English-language Sunday Times, Athas is leaving the country for his own safety: His recent reports on arms sales irregularities have drawn threats, harassment, and, on one occasion, an unruly mob of protestors outside his home. "The harassment and threats have come and gone in the past," Athas says, "and I have to assume they will again." He would return to Colombo in less than two weeks.
February 5, 2008 12:08 PM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Europe Analysis

Rewriting the Law to Make Journalism a Crime
By Nina Ognianova

In its 17 years on the air, Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy Radio has enjoyed, by Russian standards, extraordinary editorial independence. Nearly alone among Russian broadcasters in its critical approach, the station employs some of the country's most outspoken journalists, who produce in-depth reporting on the most sensitive issues of the day. But in the run-up to the March 2008 presidential election, even the unshakable Ekho has begun to feel a shudder of apprehension.
February 5, 2008 12:07 PM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2007: Middle East Analysis

Under the Radar, a New Kind of Repression
By Joel Campagna 

On a Wednesday afternoon last June, Yemeni security agents stormed the home of outspoken editor Abdel Karim al-Khaiwani and dragged him before a State Security Court in the capital, Sana'a. A prosecutor questioned al-Khaiwani and later rang him up on charges of belonging to a secret terrorist cell--charges that carry a possible death sentence. The arrest shocked Yemeni journalists, and some wondered aloud whether their colleague, known for his incendiary columns attacking the Yemeni government and its battle with rebels in the northwestern city of Saada, might have been involved in something nefarious. CPJ issued guarded statements of concern, unsure whether the charge had substance. 

February 5, 2008 12:06 PM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Afghanistan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Afghanistan


Six years after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, journalists were increasingly pessimistic about the future. The personal tragedies of several Afghan journalists illustrated how much the press situation had worsened amid political disarray, faltering security, and human rights abuses. Despite the adversity, domestic news media remained plentiful and assertive.
February 5, 2008 12:00 PM ET


Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2007: Argentina

Outgoing President Néstor Kirchner's administration dramatically increased its advertising budget, rewarding friendly media with government spots, punishing critics by withholding ads, and, in the process, influencing coverage of the presidential election won by Kirchner's wife, Sen. Cristina Fernández. The manipulation of state advertising undermined press freedom and constituted the single greatest danger to the Argentine press, CPJ found in a special report issued in October. A court ruling that struck down a provincial government's discriminatory advertising practices, however, offered hope that the system might be reformed.
February 5, 2008 11:57 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Azerbaijan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Azerbaijan


Ignoring international opinion, the authoritarian government of President Ilham Aliyev clamped down on opposition and independent media and became the world’s fifth-leading jailer of journalists, with nine reporters and editors behind bars when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1. On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, CPJ ranked the oil-rich Caspian Sea state as one of the world’s worst backsliders on press freedom.
February 5, 2008 11:54 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Bangladesh

Attacks on the Press 2007: Bangladesh


Despite stated commitments to democratic reform and media freedom, Bangladesh’s military-backed government dealt a series of crippling blows to what had been one of the freest presses in Asia. Operating under an official state of emergency and faced with a series of written orders and verbal directives governing media coverage, a famously voluble press corps grew increasingly muted.
February 5, 2008 11:52 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Belarus

Attacks on the Press 2007: Belarus


Authorities moved aggressively to control the Internet, introducing sweeping new restrictions that allow the government to monitor citizens’ use of the Web. President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s administration continued its practice of suppressing dissent—but paid a price in May when the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) denied Belarus a seat following international criticism of the country’s poor human rights and press freedom record.
February 5, 2008 11:51 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Brazil

Attacks on the Press 2007: Brazil


With 15 journalists killed for their work in as many years, Brazil is one of the region’s deadliest countries for the press, but court-imposed censorship and official antagonism have also emerged as major issues for the news media. Time and again, local courts issued rulings that barred journalists from reporting on malfeasance, while high-ranking officials routinely assailed the media for their coverage.
February 5, 2008 11:47 AM ET


Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2007: Bolivia

Increasing hostility between the government of President Evo Morales and the private media reflected a year of overall tension between Bolivia's indigenous majority and the country's conservative, European-descended opposition. Amid heated debate in December, a constituent assembly approved a proposal for a new constitution that grants more power to the country's indigenous population. Journalists expressed concern about vaguely worded constitutional provisions that could hinder the media in South America's poorest country.
February 5, 2008 11:46 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Myanmar

Attacks on the Press 2007: Burma


Burmese journalists came under heavy assault in August and September when covering pro-democracy street protests and the military government’s retaliatory crackdown, marking significant deterioration in what was already one of the world’s most repressive media environments. The government banned coverage of the uprising and sought to isolate the nation by impeding Internet and phone service. Local and citizen journalists, however, proved innovative and persistent in circumventing the government’s electronic blockade.
February 5, 2008 11:44 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Cambodia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Cambodia


Government suppression of a hard-hitting investigative report that implicated senior government officials in illegal logging represented a significant reversal of the modest press freedom gains of the previous two years.

Britain-based environmental watchdog Global Witness released the 95-page report, “Family Trees,” on June 1 and several local media groups detailed its findings, which included accusations against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family and personal bodyguard unit. Four days later, the Information Ministry banned and moved to confiscate hard copies of the report, claiming that its conclusions could “incite political problems.” Information Minister Khieu Kanarith was quoted in the local media as saying that the confiscation “does not concern the freedom to publish and disseminate information, which the government strongly supports.”
February 5, 2008 11:42 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   China

Attacks on the Press 2007: China

In a year of internal political wrangling and further emergence on the global stage, Chinese leadership under President Hu Jintao showed a keen awareness of public opinion at home and abroad. But the result was not greater freedom for the press. The administration undertook a clumsy effort to woo the foreign press corps while simultaneously tightening control over the flow of information and commentary within China.
February 5, 2008 11:37 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Colombia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Colombia


The national press played a crucial role in exposing illegal paramilitary activities and links between paramilitary leaders and leading politicians. Provincial journalists, working in areas where paramilitaries and other illegal armed groups were prevalent, faced many challenges in trying to report this and other sensitive stories. Paramilitary fighters were behind the majority of documented press freedom violations, CPJ research showed.

Attacks on the Press   |   Cuba

Attacks on the Press 2007: Cuba


July 31 marked a year without Fidel Castro, whose health remained a “state secret” even though it was the biggest story of the year. Cuba continued to prove itself one of the worst reporting environments in the world as three foreign journalists were expelled from the island and 24 Cuban reporters languished in prison.

Attacks on the Press   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Attacks on the Press 2007: Democratic Republic of Congo

The historic November 2006 presidential election--the first since the country's independence from Belgium in 1960--was followed by a yearlong nationwide wave of media abuses as the new administration struggled with rampant unrest, insecurity, and impunity in attacks against media workers. Interim President Joseph Kabila defeated former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba in the divisive 2006 presidential runoff, ending a fragile power-sharing government and marking the start of a difficult transition to democracy.
February 5, 2008 11:32 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Ecuador

Attacks on the Press 2007: Ecuador


President Rafael Correa regularly bashed the news media after taking office in January, reflecting increasing tensions between his young socialist government and the powerful business groups that control the country’s media. Correa immediately called for a new constitution that would expand the power of the executive branch, loosen term limits, and allow for greater government control over the media. In September, Correa’s Movimiento Alianza País party took an important step toward those goals by winning an overwhelming majority of seats in the constituent assembly that will rewrite the 1998 constitution.
February 5, 2008 11:28 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Egypt

Attacks on the Press 2007: Egypt


The government clamped down on political opposition, tried to suppress speculation about the health of President Hosni Mubarak, and waged a steady offensive against critical journalists, bloggers, and foreign media workers. By year’s end, a full-fledged crackdown was under way, with Egyptian courts aggressively prosecuting several of the country’s leading independent editors and writers. Authorities appeared bent on setting tighter boundaries for the independent press and for bloggers, whose numbers and influence have grown. In 2007, CPJ designated Egypt one of the world’s worst backsliders on press freedom, citing a dramatic increase in attacks on the press.
February 5, 2008 11:27 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Eritrea

Attacks on the Press 2007: Eritrea

Eritrea remained the leading jailer of journalists in Africa, with as many as 14 writers and editors held incommunicado in secret locations. At least one journalist died in state custody, sources told CPJ in February. The only country in sub-Saharan Africa without a single independent news outlet, Eritrea subjected its own state-media journalists to government surveillance and harassment. One state journalist died in June while trying to escape years of repression by fleeing into Sudan.
February 5, 2008 11:25 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Ethiopia

Involved militarily in the conflict engulfing Somalia, engaged in a tense stalemate with arch foe Eritrea, assailed by allegations of human rights abuses in the eastern region of Ogaden, Ethiopia eased media repression slightly and released many journalists from prison. Yet the chilling effect of a brutal 2005 media crackdown that led to 15 arrests and numerous newspaper closings hung over Ethiopia’s beleaguered private press in 2007. And continued government harassment drove many journalists out of the country.
February 5, 2008 11:25 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Gambia

Attacks on the Press 2007: The Gambia

Fewer press-related detentions and attacks were reported in 2007, CPJ
research showed, but local journalists said the decline reflected several years of intense government suppression. One prominent journalist was slain and others have been forced into exile since 2004, leaving a more compliant press that practices widespread self-censorship. A mere handful of publications provide critical coverage, television is state-controlled, and radio news is limited to state-run broadcasts.
February 5, 2008 11:21 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Georgia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Georgia


Facing a week of massive protests in the capital, Tbilisi, President Mikhail
Saakashvili stunned Western allies in November by imposing a state of emergency, banning broadcast news reporting, closing two television stations, and deploying police to forcefully disperse demonstrators. Saakashvili defended the November 7 crackdown, saying that the protests were orchestrated by Moscow with the intention of overthrowing his government. After acceding to opposition demands for early presidential elections, Saakashvili lifted the state of emergency and the news-gathering ban nine days later. But by then, he had damaged his own reputation as a pro-Western reformer.
February 5, 2008 11:20 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Guinea

Attacks on the Press 2007: Guinea

During nationwide strikes and antigovernment demonstrations in January
and February, state security forces attacked Guinea's newly launched private radio stations, blocked print publications, and threatened journalists. More than 130 people were killed, mostly by government security forces, during protests that were unprecedented in size and popular support. The unrest was quelled in late February when President Lansana Conté agreed to appoint as prime minister Lansana Kouyaté, a respected diplomat who was backed by local trade unions. Kouyaté's appointment marked a departure from Conté's brutal and often capricious rule, and local journalists reported a decrease in harassment and censorship in its aftermath. Still, the president, who rarely appears in public and reportedly suffers from diabetes and other ailments, maintained de facto control over segments of Guinea's economy and political apparatus, and it remained unclear whether the transition would lead to long-term improvements for the Guinean press.
February 5, 2008 11:16 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   India

Attacks on the Press 2007: India


The famously freewheeling press in the world’s biggest democracy operated largely without interference from the central government but nevertheless faced significant challenges, from the threat of violent assault to legal harassment. The dangers confronting journalists varied tremendously across regions, with those working in conflict areas or outside the major urban centers at greatest risk. With no national organization systematically tracking press freedom violations, cases involving journalists working for small media outlets rarely drew wide attention.
February 5, 2008 11:10 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Iran

Attacks on the Press 2007: Iran


Iran’s troubled economy weakened President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s power at home, with protests spilling into the streets and intellectuals, activists, and students expressing dissent in the media. Silencing the uproar became essential for Ahmadinejad, prompting authorities to intensify a media crackdown that had been waged by conservative forces for a decade. Iran became the world’s fourth-leading jailer of journalists in 2007, with one writer on death row and 11 other journalists imprisoned when CPJ conducted its annual census on December 1.
February 5, 2008 11:08 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press 2007: Iraq


The war in Iraq, the deadliest conflict for journalists in recent history, kept the country at the top of the world’s most dangerous places for the press. Thirty-two journalists and 12 media support staffers were killed during the year, bringing the record toll to 174 media personnel killed in the line of duty since the U.S. invasion of March 2003. Improving security conditions in parts of the country in 2007 may have had an effect on media deaths, as most occurred in the first seven months of the year.

Attacks on the Press   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks on the Press 2007: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

ISRAEL and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

A bitter power struggle between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah left journalists vulnerable to harassment and attack, with the slayings of two local media workers and the abduction of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston underscoring the risk. Journalists covering Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza also had to contend with perennial abuses at the hands of Israeli forces.

Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2007: Haiti

Press conditions improved slightly during a year of relative political stability. A decline in gang violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, allowed reporters to make a cautious return to the city's streets. And, with the strong support of President René Préval, an independent committee was created in August to monitor stalled investigations into a series of journalist murders this decade.

Attacks on the Press   |   Kyrgyzstan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Kyrgyzstan


One prominent editor was slain and other journalists faced escalating government harassment, violent attacks, and lawlessness amid intense political rivalry between President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and opposition parties in parliament. In the face of recurring protests, Bakiyev periodically made political concessions to the opposition, only to withdraw or undermine the agreements after demonstrators had gone home. Seemingly focused on political obfuscation, the administration was unable to effectively tackle widespread crime, corruption, and poverty, and Bakiyev became steadily more reliant on authoritarian policies to keep the upper hand with opposition parties, civil society activists, and independent journalists.
February 5, 2008 10:59 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Mexico

Attacks on the Press 2007: Mexico


Mexican authorities failed again to vigorously pursue the perpetrators of violence against journalists, leaving reporters vulnerable to attacks and the news media resorting to self-censorship. Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for the press, CPJ research shows, with 13 journalists slain in direct relation to their work and another 14 killed under unclear circumstances in the last 15 years. Three journalists and three media workers were murdered in 2007, and three reporters went missing.
February 5, 2008 10:49 AM ET


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.

Attacks on the Press   |   Sudan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Sudan


Despite free speech protections built into Sudan’s 2005 interim constitution, authorities operated as if a state of emergency were still in force. Newspaper suspensions, criminal charges, and detentions were a routine part of working as a journalist in Sudan. When trying to cover one of the world’s biggest stories—the genocide in Darfur—reporters faced high barriers.
February 5, 2008 10:28 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Tajikistan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Tajikistan


Beginning his 16th year as head of state, President Emomali Rahmonov promoted policies to foster “national identity.” He abolished Russified endings from Tajik surnames—and started by cutting the suffix “ov” from his own surname and decreeing that he be called President Rahmon. The newly renamed president went on to prohibit students from driving cars to school and to admonish the public for what he called lavish spending on weddings and funerals. In his annual address to parliament, Rahmon called for the development of a new press policy in which “Tajik mass media will be expected to raise patriotism with the public.”
February 5, 2008 10:24 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Thailand

Attacks on the Press 2007: Thailand


Fallout from the September 2006 military coup cast a chill over Thailand’s media throughout 2007, as the junta maintained martial law over nearly half the country’s provinces and used its discretionary powers to censor broadcast news, seize control of the country’s only privately run television station, and pass new legislation that severely curtailed free expression on the Internet.
February 5, 2008 10:23 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Tunisia

Attacks on the Press 2007: Tunisia


In a July 25 speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Tunisian Republic, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali proclaimed that his government had “enriched the information and communication landscape and offered opportunity for the expression of different opinions.” It was an Orwellian moment in a year in which the Ben Ali administration stepped up attacks on independent journalists and blocked numerous online news sites.
February 5, 2008 10:21 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Turkey

Attacks on the Press 2007: Turkey


The murder of an outspoken newspaper editor underlined a troubling year in which journalists continued to be the targets of criminal prosecution and government censorship.

Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian editor of the bilingual weekly Agos, was gunned down outside his newspaper’s Istanbul office on January 19. Dink had received numerous death threats from nationalist Turks who viewed his iconoclastic journalism, particularly on the mass killings of Armenians in the early 20th century, as an act of treachery. In a January 10 article in Agos, Dink said he had passed along a particularly threatening letter to Istanbul’s Sisli district prosecutor, but no action had been taken. Dink’s murder rekindled memories of the not-too-distant past, when murders of journalists were common in Turkey. In the 1990s, 18 Turkish journalists were killed for their work, many of them murdered, making it the eighth-deadliest country in the world for the press. Few of the cases were solved.
February 5, 2008 10:20 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Turkmenistan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Turkmenistan


The sudden death of President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov in December 2006 marked an end to an eccentric and authoritarian rule, raising modest hopes for social, economic, and political reform. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, a deputy prime minister and Niyazov loyalist, was named interim leader and then became president in a government-orchestrated “election” in February.
February 5, 2008 10:19 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Ukraine

Attacks on the Press 2007: Ukraine


Intense political rivalries among a trio of powerful leaders created a chaotic and highly politicized environment in which journalists were vulnerable to a variety of abuses. Parliamentary elections in September and negotiations to form a new government in the succeeding months intensified pressure on journalists to take sides. In November, Ukraine’s two pro-Western parties formed a fragile coalition that returned Orange Revolution leader Yulia Tymoshenko to the prime minister’s post she once held. Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian politician who was prime minister for more than a year, found himself the odd man out, but it was uncertain how long Tymoshenko’s alliance with President Viktor Yushchenko could last.
February 5, 2008 10:17 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   USA

Attacks on the Press 2007: United States

Editor Chauncey Bailey was gunned down three blocks from his Oakland, Calif., office in August, becoming the first U.S. journalist killed for his work in six years. Bailey, editor-in-chief of the Oakland Post and four other weeklies focusing on the San Francisco Bay Area's African-American communities, was targeted after investigating the alleged criminal activities of a local business, Your Black Muslim Bakery. One suspect, bakery worker Devaughndre Broussard, was arrested. He reportedly confessed to killing Bailey with a sawed-off shotgun, although his lawyer said the statement was made under duress. Journalists across the country later formed an ad hoc group to investigate the crime, the first on-duty killing since the 2001 deaths of one journalist in the terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center and another in a Florida anthrax attack.
February 5, 2008 10:16 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press 2007: Uzbekistan


In power for nearly two decades, President Islam Karimov had little trouble securing another seven-year term in office. He faced three candidates but no genuine opposition in a December election that international observers said was neither free nor fair. Though constitutional term limits seemed to constrain the president from seeking re-election at all, the Central Election Commission cleared Karimov for another run without bothering to explain its reasoning. Throughout, the regime continued to suppress dissent and independent voices.
February 5, 2008 10:14 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2007: Venezuela


The Venezuelan government’s unprecedented decision not to renew the broadcast concession of the country’s oldest private television station, RCTV, represented a major setback for free expression and democracy. The decision, aimed at silencing Venezuela’s most critical media outlet, was part of President Hugo Chávez Frías’ aggressive strategy to challenge the influence of the private press as he expanded the reach of state media. But as Chávez reached for further power in late year, he suffered his first major blow at the polls. Voters narrowly rejected a constitutional overhaul that would have allowed the government to censor the news media.
February 5, 2008 10:13 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2007: Yemen


Journalists covering a rebel insurgency and government corruption were subjected to a frightening array of violent attacks and politically motivated court cases. Threats against independent journalists continued at an alarming rate, taking on an almost routine air. Perpetrators, for the most part, went unpunished.

Since 2004, the government has been combating a regional insurgency led by tribal and religious figures in the northwestern Saada region. Until a tenuous cease-fire was reached in June, hundreds of civilians had been killed and thousands displaced during the three-year conflict. Yemeni authorities continued to respond aggressively toward journalists who tried to report independently on the fighting. Government forces prevented journalists from entering the region to cover the conflict, effectively imposing a media blackout.
February 5, 2008 10:11 AM ET


Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2007: Zimbabwe

It's the vacuum that illustrates the problem--all of the reporters who have fled, the news outlets that have closed, the stories that have gone unreported. Seven years of government intimidation and deteriorating economic conditions have prompted a steady flow of Zimbabwean journalists to leave the country. CPJ has documented at least 48 journalists as having fled since 2001, although the number is twice that when data from exile organizations is considered. Those ranks include many of the nation's most prominent reporters, constituting the largest group of exiled journalists in the world, CPJ research shows.
February 5, 2008 10:10 AM ET


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