Press freedom languished despite the establishment of a new government under President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Anti-government demonstrations continued as protesters demanded deeper reforms than those offered by Hadi's administration. Critical independent journalists were assaulted, threatened, and harassed from multiple sides. In February, armed men belonging to an influential tribal group attacked a journalist who had reported critically about the clan. The same month, supporters of former President Ali Abdullah al-Saleh seized the offices of two state-run newspapers and forced them to publish Saleh's picture on the front page. In May, the Press and Publications Court summoned two Al-Jazeera journalists for trial on charges that they had reported on the 2011 uprising without accreditation. The trial was pending in late year. The government debated an Audio-Visual and Electronic Media bill that was first proposed by the Saleh administration in 2010. CPJ's review of the legislation found it would impose exorbitant registration and licensing fees, among other restrictions. The bill was pending in late year. No journalists were killed during the year, a drop from 2011 when two fatalities occurred during coverage of anti-government protests.
Two years after the revolution that overthrew Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, press freedom in Tunisia slid backward. Since the newly elected government assumed office in January, the authorities took several worrying steps that included the appointment of government allies as new heads of state television, radio, and print outlets. In April, three journalists were beaten while covering a protest, and in July, police officers attacked two journalists who were filming a collision involving a police cruiser and a train. In August, the authorities issued an arrest warrant for the head of a private television station, a Ben Ali ally who also hosted a satirical show mocking current government figures. In February, the authorities detained and fined three journalists for publishing a nude photo. Journalists said the government was ignoring two media laws adopted in November 2011 that were modeled on international press freedom standards, instead enforcing the previous, repressive laws. Members of the National Authority to Reform Information and Communication, a special commission set up to bring about media reforms, resigned en masse in July citing the government's lack of commitment to press freedom.
Conditions for the press deteriorated severely since Syria's uprising began in 2011. The Syrian government continued its media blackout by barring entry to most international journalists and controlling local news coverage. Foreign journalists resorted to smuggling themselves into the country, most across the borders with Turkey and Lebanon, to report on the conflict. Citizen journalists took extreme risks to videotape and document the unrest. Dozens of journalists were imprisoned over the course of the year and some were reportedly tortured in government custody. Local and international journalists were abducted by the government, the rebels, and non-Syrian Islamic extremist groups. Some remained missing in late year. With 28 journalists murdered, targeted by sniper fire, or killed in crossfire, CPJ ranked Syria as the most dangerous country in the world for the press in 2012. Although many of the fatalities were at the hands of government forces, numerous attacks against journalists or news outlets seen as pro-government were attributed to rebel forces, including two explosions at a TV station.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.