Middle East & North Africa


Attacks on the Press   |   Iraq

Attacks on the Press 2009: Iraq

Top Developments
•  Fatalities and abductions plummet as security situation improves.
•  Prime minister, others file lawsuits to harass media. Kurdish courts jail six journalists.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists killed in connection to their work, the lowest tally since the war began in 2003.

Four Iraqi journalists were killed because of their work as the press continued to face great challenges and risks. Nevertheless, the death toll dropped to its lowest point since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and, for the first time in six years, Iraq was not the world’s deadliest nation for journalists. (It was replaced by the Philippines.) No journalists or media workers were reported abducted, reflecting another steep drop from prior years.
February 16, 2010 12:31 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Attacks on the Press 2009: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Top Developments
• Israel bars international press access to Gaza fighting.
• Fatah, Hamas detain, harass media perceived as biased.

Key Statistic
4: News media buildings in Gaza hit by Israeli airstrikes.

As the year began, the Israeli military waged a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip in response to a series of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli territory. A massive Israeli air bombardment preceded the ground action. During the monthlong conflict, airstrikes by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destroyed the headquarters of a Hamas-controlled television station, Al-Aqsa TV, struck at least three other buildings housing news media, and injured several local journalists attempting to cover the assault. At the same time, Israeli authorities largely barred foreign journalists’ access to Gaza with restrictions imposed in early November 2008 and tightened after the start of the Israeli offensive.

February 16, 2010 12:30 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Libya

Attacks on the Press 2009: Libya

Top Developments
•  Regime pursues defamation cases in Morocco and other countries.
•  Qaddafi nationalizes the nation’s sole private television station.

Key Statistic
3: Moroccan newspaper ordered to pay damages for “injuring the dignity” of Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

Col. Muammar Qaddafi marked in September the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power and led to the eradication of human rights and the assassination and enforced disappearance of hundreds of critics, including journalists. The government has used softer tactics of repression in recent years in keeping with its efforts to rehabilitate Qaddafi’s international image, but it has maintained a tight grip on the news media.

February 16, 2010 12:28 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Morocco

Attacks on the Press 2009: Morocco

Top Developments
• Authorities censor, jail journalists to silence coverage of the royal family.
• Politicized courts issue heavy defamation awards.

Key Statistic
100,000: Copies of two weeklies destroyed by authorities because they carried a poll about the king.

As King Mohammed VI marked his first decade on the Alawite throne, his government moved aggressively to censor coverage of the royal family and silence other critical news reporting, fueling deep concern about the future of independent journalism in this North African nation.

February 16, 2010 12:26 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Sudan

Attacks on the Press 2009: Sudan

Top Developments
•  Government continues to impose vast censorship.
•  New press law falls short of international standards.

Key Statistic
9: Men executed in editor’s murder. Observers call it a miscarriage of justice.

Sudanese journalists worked amid political uncertainty and severe restrictions. Pervasive official censorship restricted journalists from closely reporting on the tumultuous events of 2009: The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sporadic fighting continued in the devastated region of Darfur, and a spike in ethnic violence in South Sudan sparked fears of renewed warfare. Security agents prevented coverage of topics deemed to be sensitive, including Darfur, the ICC, human rights issues, official corruption, the expulsion of aid agencies, and state censorship itself. The legislature passed a stringent new press law, dashing hopes that the repressive 2004 press law would be replaced with legislation up to international standards. Though the government announced an end to prior censorship in September, editors were unconvinced this would lead to significant change. Many local journalists feared that official regulations and widespread self-censorship could stifle hopes for a free and fair campaign in the lead-up to historic national elections scheduled for 2010.

February 16, 2010 12:14 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Tunisia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Tunisia

Top Developments
• Government engineers ouster of independent journalist union leaders.
• Two journalists are jailed in retaliation for critical reporting.

Key Statistic
97: Percentage of newspaper campaign coverage that was devoted to President Ben Ali.

President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was re-elected to a fifth term with 90 percent of the vote amid severe restrictions on independent reporting. Ben Ali’s government went after the country’s journalist union, bringing down its democratically elected board, while his police bullied and harassed critical reporters. Two journalists, one of them a leading critic of the president, were in jail in late year.

Attacks on the Press   |   Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2009: Yemen

Top Developments
• Government censors newspapers, establishes new press court.
• Two journalists jailed without charge; one missing after being abducted.

Key Statistic
8: Newspapers banned for periods beginning in May due to their coverage of unrest in the south.

Continuing a steady years-long decline, Yemen became one of the most repressive countries in the region for the press. Journalists covering clashes in the country’s restive south faced severe restrictions. Government repression reached its peak in May, when at least eight newspapers that had covered violent protests were barred from distribution, several papers faced criminal charges, and one paper came under direct attack from state security agents. Government officials established a special court for perceived news media offenses.

February 16, 2010 12:05 AM ET


Alerts   |   Iran

On revolution's anniversary, Iran stifles Internet

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AP)

New York, February 11, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Iranian government’s attempt to slow down the Internet and block text messaging ahead of expected demonstrations during today’s 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

February 11, 2010 11:45 AM ET


Alerts   |   Iran

Groups join forces, urge Iran to free journalists

'Our Society Will Be a Free Society' campaign launched

February 11, 2010, New York—A coalition of leading international journalists’, writers’, and publishers’ organizations today launched a campaign to press the government of Iran to release their colleagues imprisoned in the wake of last year’s disputed presidential election CPJ, PEN, Reporters Sans Frontières, Index on Censorship, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and the International Publishers Association have joined forces for the campaign out of what the groups have called “a sense of shared, urgent concern for the welfare of journalists, writers, and bloggers and a profound alarm over the situation for free expression in Iran.”


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