August 17 , 2004
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists
CPJ in Iraq
With 30 journalists and 11 media workers killed in Iraq since the beginning of hostilities, the country remains a major focus of advocacy for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Eleven journalists have been abducted by armed groups in Iraq in 2004 alone, most recently the documentary journalist Micah Garen.
CPJ has dispatched P. Mitchell Prothero, who has worked as a reporter and photographer for United Press International, to Baghdad to monitor and report on journalist safety, harassment of the press, and media regulations. Prothero began his two-month assignment August 7.
Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna has written extensively about new threats to press freedom under Iraq's transitional government, including the creation of a media regulatory commission. Campagna's August 4 op-ed in the International Herald Tribune sounded the alarm about press threats and presaged the Iraqi government's closing of Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau just three days later.
To read Campagna's op-ed, visit: http://www.cpj.org/op_ed/Campagna04aug04.html
To read CPJ's alert on the Al Jazeera bureau closing, visit: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Iraq08aug04na.html.
To read CPJ's letter to Prime Minister Iyad Allawi about the media commission, visit: http://www.cpj.org/protests/04ltrs/Iraq27july04pl.html
To read our alert on Micah Garen's abduction, visit: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Iraq16aug04na_2.html
Costa Rica: A criminal defamation victory
CPJ is pleased to report that the Inter American Court of Human Rights has overturned a criminal defamation sentence against Costa Rican journalist Mauricio Herrera Ulloa. A reporter for the San José–based daily La Nación, Ulloa was convicted of criminal defamation in 1999. In a ruling made public on August 3, the court voided the sentence, saying that Costa Rica had "violated the right to freedom of thinking and expression" guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights. The court ordered the state to pay Ulloa damages and legal fees.
In February, CPJ and other news organizations submitted an amicus curiae brief to the court in support of Ulloa. The brief argued that "laws that permit journalists to be prosecuted criminally for the content of their reporting are a hazard to freedom of the press and the right of citizens to be informed."
To read more about the ruling, visit: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Costa04aug04na.html
To read the amicus brief, visit: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Costa19feb04_AmicusBrief.pdf
Indonesia: A criminal defamation fight
Journalists elsewhere must still contend with repressive criminal libel, defamation, and "insult" laws. In July, CPJ's Asia Program Coordinator Abi Wright traveled to Indonesia for a two-day international conference on criminal insult and defamation laws. Three journalists are on trial in Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, charged with spreading false information and provoking social discord. They face up to 10 years in prison.
In a letter to Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said, "This disturbing trend is having a chilling effect on local journalists and poses a direct threat to press freedom in Indonesia."
To read the full text of our letter, visit: http://www.cpj.org/protests/04ltrs/Indonesia10aug04pl.html
CPJ to Putin: Bring Togliatti editors' killers to justice
Saying Russian authorities "have repeatedly disregarded pertinent evidence and witnesses" in the slayings of two newspaper editors in the industrial city of Togliatti, CPJ has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to "devote the full resources of your office" to bring the true killers to justice.
In an August 9 letter to the Russian leader, Cooper described a "years-long pattern of deadly, unchecked violence" against journalists that includes 11 contract-style murders since Putin took office in 2000. Cooper and Alex Lupis, senior program coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, traveled to Togliatti as part of a detailed inquiry into the slayings. Two successive editors-in-chief of Tolyattinskoye Obozreniye were slain after the newspaper exposed controversial business deals linked to organized crime and government corruption. No one has been brought to justice in the killings.
To read our letter to Putin, visit: http://www.cpj.org/news/2004/Russia09aug04na.html
Drawing attention to Haiti
In late July, CPJ published a special investigative report on Haiti that examined the dangerous climate that continues after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The report, titled "Taking Sides," revealed the emerging dangers in the rural northern and central regions of the country and found that journalists sympathetic to the former leader are targeted.
The report was written by Carlos Lauría, CPJ's program coordinator for the Americas, and Jean Roland Chery. Chery understands the dangers firsthand, having worked as a reporter with Radio Haiti-Inter before securing asylum in the United States with CPJ's help. The report drew coverage from Reuters, The Associated Press, Editor & Publisher, UPI and several regional newspapers.
To read the full report, visit:
CPJ's new offices
We've moved! On August 16, we settled into bigger offices at our Manhattan address. The new offices provide better meeting space for visitors, as well as more room for research. We're still at 330 7th Ave. but are one story down, on the 11th floor.
We're grateful to the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation for a two-year $100,000 grant.
We welcome Kristin Jones, our new Asia researcher. Jones spent three years living in Beijing, where she helped launch and edit an English-language newsweekly called That's Beijing and wrote for The South China Morning Post. She speaks Mandarin. Kristin succeeds Sophie Beach, our senior Asia researcher, who left in August to pursue opportunities on the West Coast. We wish her the best!