Free Expression Spotlight

Published: Wed 28 Nov 2007 01:46 PM
Free Expression Spotlight
1. Global Campaign Launched in Face of Pervasive Impunity
2. Pakistan: Journalist Slain; Protests against Media Curbs Continue
3. Sri Lanka: Leading Printing Press Goes Up in Flames; More Media Workers
4. Afghanistan: INSI Provides Safety Training for Local Journalists
5. Iraq: Photographer held by U.S. to Be Charged; 11 Relatives of Iraqi
Editor Killed
6. Uruguay: Senate Passes Community Broadcasting Bill
7. Take Back the Tech: Reclaim Technology to End Violence against Women
8. IAPA Calls for Entries for 2008 Excellence in Journalism Awards
9. Egyptian Bloggers Plan Festival of Torture Videos
PLEASE NOTE: Starting next week, the list of alerts will no longer be
carried in the "IFEX Communiqué". Instead, IFEX is launching a new product
on 28 November: the "IFEX Digest". See below for details.
Last week, Haiti experienced a small victory in its fight against impunity.
According to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) a
second suspect - another gang member - was arrested in the brutal murder of
radio reporter Alix Joseph, who was shot to death by gunmen in the
northwestern city of Gonaïves on 16 May. Although the killers' motives are
not yet known, Joseph had allegedly received anonymous telephone calls
protesting the station's appeals for disarming local gangs before his
But the arrests are the exception, not the rule. Research by the Committee
to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows that justice is served in less than 15
percent of these murder cases, and that impunity promotes a higher
incidence of murder.
The irony is that the suspect's arrest came at a time when the director of
a panel set up to investigate murders of journalists in Haiti was forced to
flee the country, having received repeated death threats. The head of press
freedom organisation S.O.S. Journalistes, Joseph Guyler Delva, is also the
director of an Independent Commission for Supporting Investigations into
Murders of Journalists (CIAPEAJ). The commission was created on 10 August
by President René Préval and S.O.S. Journalistes to combat impunity in the
recent spate of journalists' murders in the country. Delva has since
returned to Haiti, having received a guarantee of protection from Préval
Even when an unlikely victory occurs, rarely are the masterminds convicted,
as proven in a recent case in Peru. Last week, the man who carried out the
killing of an outspoken and controversial radio commentator, Alberto Rivera
Fernández, was given 35 years in prison, reports RSF. But the Superior
Court acquitted the mayor of Pucallpa, Luis Valdez Villacorta, who was
accused of ordering the murder. The mayor's former right-hand man was also
cleared. Lawyers of Rivera Fernandez deplored the acquittals, in view of
the solid evidence against the mayor.
Stories like these - and other recent cases in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and
Iraq, documented elsewhere in this edition of the "Communiqué" - have led
the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to launch their own
international campaign to combat impunity. CPJ's efforts seek to build on
the success of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which in 1993
launched a campaign against impunity in journalists' murders in Latin
America. According to CPJ, the justice rate in Latin America improved
markedly since then. Although there any many reasons why, CPJ says "IAPA's
campaign undoubtedly made a difference."
CPJ will focus initially on Russia and the Philippines - two of the world's
deadliest nations for journalists, and among the worst in solving these
"Concerted action on a global scale and collaboration with our colleagues
and supporters, we believe, is a prescription for success," says CPJ. Find
our more about CPJ's campaign by checking out their "Global Campaign
against Impunity" website, where you can read special reports on unsolved
journalists murders - including a database of journalists killed in the
past 15 years, CPJ's ongoing coverage of the Philippines and Russia, and
how to get involved:
Also visit these links:
- IAPA campaign:
- RSF on Joseph's case:
- RSF on Delva:
- Haiti Support Group:
- RSF on Peru case:
A reporter for a leading paper was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the
southern province of Sindh last week, report Pakistan Press Foundation
(PPF), the International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters Without
Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).
Zubair Ahmed Mujahid, correspondent for the national daily "Jang", was
riding a motorbike in the town of Mirpurkhas on 23 November, when
unidentified armed men opened fire and killed him.
Mujahid was killed because of "his articles criticising the situation of
the poor," Mujahid's elder brother told RSF. He wrote a weekly column
called "Crime and Punishment" in which he often criticised landowners and
police for mistreating the poor. One of his reports led to arrests of local
policemen involved in violence against villagers.
"This tragedy is further proof that the authorities are unable to ensure
journalists' safety," says RSF.
Since President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency on 3
November, dozens of journalists have been beaten and arrested. But
journalists remain defiant and are continuing to protest against the media
curbs, reports the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). On 20
November, more than 180 journalists in Karachi were arrested for protesting
against the continuing broadcasting ban on two popular TV stations, GEO TV
and ARY Digital. Four journalists were charged with offences related to
disturbing the peace, IFJ says. A reporter for Aaj television station,
Khurram Hashmi, was abducted and severely beaten by four armed police
before being dumped on a side street, says PPF.
Solidarity protests have also extended to neighbouring countries in South
Asia, says the South Asian Free Media Association (SAMFA). The Federation
of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) presented the Pakistan embassy with a
memorandum signed by 20 different rights organisations on 15 November. In
Bangladesh, union members are demanding that the draconian press laws in
Pakistan be scrapped.
According to IFJ, which recently went to Pakistan on an international
crisis mission, media owners are collaborating with journalists to consider
further joint actions, including a proposal that the media go on strike and
shut down operations for 24 or 48 hours.
Musharraf has mostly targeted political opponents, lawyers and journalists,
rather than the militants leading an increasingly strong insurgency, say
Musharraf's critics. Suicide bombers killed an estimated 35 people in
nearly simultaneous blasts on 24 November in Rawalpindi, a garrison city at
the heart of Pakistan's security establishment. Pro-Taliban militants who
are fighting security forces in the tribal areas are suspected to be behind
the attack.
Visit these links
on Mujahid:
- PPF:
- IPI:
- RSF:
on state of emergency/protests:
- IFJ:
- PPF:
- FNJ:
- Rural Media Network Pakistan:
The printing press of three opposition newspapers in a suburb of Colombo,
Sri Lanka was burned down last week, report the Free Media Movement (FMM)
and international press freedom groups.
Fifteen masked men ordered the staff to kneel and hand over their cell
phones before starting the blaze early on 21 November, as one of the three
papers went to press, says FMM.
The printing press of Leader Publications, which publishes the
English-language "Morning Leader" and "Sunday Leader", and the
Sinhala-language weekly "Irudina", was completely destroyed by the fire.
According to the International Press Institute (IPI), the damage is
estimated at US$2 million and will put the press out of commission for
several months. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says the papers
are trying to find a private printing press so they can continue to
The printing house is located in a government security zone, which
illustrates that "press freedom enemies have accomplices within the
security forces," says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans
frontières, RSF).
The Leader papers are known for their critical views towards the Sri Lankan
authorities. According to CPJ, the editor of the "Sunday Leader", Lasantha
Wickrematunga, told journalists he believed the government was behind the
The printing press was previously set on fire in October 2005 in the run-up
to the presidential election, but employees prevented it from getting
seriously damaged. Editors of their newspapers have suffered harassment and
threats since, says FMM.
FMM holds the government responsible for failing to protect the printing
house. "The culture of impunity prevailing in this country has prevented
any meaningful inquiry into acts of violence against media and journalists
that have taken place under this government," says FMM.
Meanwhile, FMM and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
believe more media workers have been abducted in military-controlled
Jaffna, in Sri Lanka's far north. Anthonypillai Sherin Sithranjan, a
newspaper deliveryman for the Tamil daily "Yal Thinakkural", was reported
missing on 5 November. Vadivel Nimalarajah, a proofreader for the Tamil
daily "Uthayan", has been missing since 17 November.
IFJ says employees of "Uthayan" have been continually targeted - of an
original staff of 20, only four still work for the paper. Media workers in
the isolated region are often caught in the crossfire between government
forces, the paramilitaries and the Tamil Tigers.
IPI voted unanimously on 17 November to place Sri Lanka back on its Watch
List, a list of countries where press freedom has rapidly deteriorated.
Visit these links:
- FMM:
- CPJ:
- IFJ:
- IFJ on Jaffna:
- IPI:
- IPI Watch List:
- RSF:
- RSF on Nimalarajah:
- International Press Freedom Mission report on June 2007 mission:
- 21 November issue of "Morning Leader" online:
Coping with kidnapping. Passage through checkpoints. Hostile crowd
situations. These are just some of the aspects the International News
Safety Institute (INSI) covered this month in its first-ever safety
training to Afghan journalists working in dangerous conditions.
A total of 46 media staffers and freelancers from across the country -
eight of whom were women - took part in a two-day workshop in the first
week of November in Kabul. The workshop addressed a variety of security
issues specific to the country, from planning a story to ballistic
awareness. Participants were also taught basic first aid skills and given
their own first aid kits.
Afghanistan is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists.
According to INSI, 21 journalists and media workers have been killed in
Afghanistan since 1996, four of them this year.
The project was supported by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the
Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development, the European
Broadcasting Union, "The Guardian", the BBC and Associated Press
INSI has provided safety training free of charge to 731 journalists and
support staff in 16 countries.
For further information about INSI training, contact Sarah de Jong, Project
Manager, at:
The U.S. military has said it plans to prosecute an award-winning
Associated Press (AP) photographer it has held in prison for more than 19
months without charge for alleged links to Iraqi insurgents, report the
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders
(Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and local news reports.
Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen who worked as a freelance photographer for
AP in Ramadi and Fallujah, has been detained since 12 April 2006. He has
not yet been charged or put on trial. As early as this week, the military
plans to submit a complaint against him through the Iraqi justice system.
In Washington, Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the
decision to bring charges now was made because "new evidence has come to
light." But he did not say what that evidence was, nor what charges Hussein
might face - just that Hussein was a "threat to stability and security in
Iraq as a link to insurgent activity."
AP calls the U.S. military plans for a case against Hussein a "sham of due
process". Its own investigation into Hussein's case found no evidence that
the photographer was guilty of wrongdoing. According to AP, charges of
aiding militants could carry a death sentence.
An investigative hearing into the case by an Iraqi criminal court is
scheduled to begin on or after 28 November. While CPJ welcomes the
military's belated attempt to give Hussein his day in court, it is "alarmed
that he continues to be denied due process and that his legal team has no
idea what the evidence is against him so they can prepare a proper
Morrell said Hussein, who was part of an AP photo team that won a Pulitzer
Prize in 2005 for photos that documented violence in Iraq, had previously
aroused suspicion because he was often at the scene of insurgent attacks as
they occurred.
According to CPJ, Hussein's detention is not an isolated incident. Over the
past three years, dozens of journalists - mostly Iraqis - have been
detained by U.S. troops.
Iraq continues to be the most dangerous place for journalists. On 25
November, masked gunmen stormed the family home of an editor known to be a
critic of the Iraqi government, killing 11 relatives, RSF reports. Dia
al-Kawwaz, the editor of the online newspaper "Shabeqat Akhbar al-Iraq",
was in Jordan, where he has sought refuge because of the dangers for
journalists working inside Iraq. His sisters, their husbands and five
children were killed in the attack. According to RSF, police at a security
checkpoint near the home failed to intervene or give chase. Al-Kawwaz had
recently received telephone threats from Iraqi militia members at his home
in Amman.
Visit these links:
- CPJ:
- Al Jazeera:
- RSF:
- RSF on al-Kawwaz:
In what the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) calls
a "groundbreaking move for freedom of expression in Latin America," the
Uruguayan Senate approved a Community Broadcasting Bill that recognises
community broadcasting in its own right and says television and radio
frequencies should be more equitably distributed.
The bill acknowledges the importance of this "third" broadcasting sector
alongside the state and private sectors, and stipulates that one third of
the AM and FM radio airwaves and television broadband will be reserved for
community-based media outlets, which AMARC says ensures greater diversity
of media ownership.
A new council, made up of government, media, university and free expression
representatives, will play a part in granting and renewing frequencies and
ensuring that the government does not use frequency allocation to
indirectly censor broadcasts.
According to AMARC, the bill does not impose limits on the geographical
range and signal strength of community media outlets, unlike laws in Brazil
and Chile. Instead, the bill says the range of coverage will depend on the
outlet's purpose and the audience it is trying to reach.
Community broadcasters will also have the right to secure financing through
donations, advertising and government grants.
AMARC and other free expression organisations, including IFEX members
ARTICLE 19 and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF),
have been closely following this development as it sets a crucial precedent
for the region. AMARC was also involved in drafting the bill. "This is the
first time that transparent and non-discriminatory processes for the
allocation of radio and television frequencies have been explicitly laid
out in Uruguayan legislation," says AMARC.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives to approve some
amendments made by the Senate. According to government officials, the law
will be passed by the end of the year.
Visit these links:
- RSF:
- "IFEX Communiqué" on passage of bill in House of Representatives:
"Get ready to pull out the mouse, flex your SMS fingers and engage full
energy in activism to end violence against women," says the Association for
Progressive Communications (APC). Because for 16 days from 25 November, the
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, APC is
calling on all ICT users to "Take Back the Tech!"
Take Back the Tech is a collaborative campaign by ICT users, advocates,
collectives and organisations aiming to raise awareness of the prevalence
of violence against women. APC is encouraging you to take simple actions
using ICT until 10 December.
In Malaysia, Burmese refugees are working with the Centre for Independent
Journalism to make online audio defending women's rights. In Uganda, a SMS
campaign called Speak out! Stand Out! is being organised to collect
messages decrying violence against women. In Quebec, feminists and
communication rights activists are creating short video clips and comic
postcards to protest.
From sending text messages to starting your own blog, you too can take
action with the tools and platforms that you can access.
Use the campaign to support, highlight or suggest an action, and find
information and tools to get going at:
For more information, email: or
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) invites media organisations in
the Americas to submit entries for the Grand Prize for Press Freedom, as
part of its 2008 Excellence in Journalism Awards.
The Grand Prize for Press Freedom will be awarded to a person or
organisation who has significantly contributed to advancing the cause of
the freedom of the press. This year's winner was Marcel Granier, president
of Venezuelan television station RCTV, and the station's journalists, for
defending their right to free speech after it lost its broadcasting
Besides the Press Freedom Prize, awards for outstanding journalism will be
given in 11 categories: international relations; human rights; news
coverage; features; in-depth reporting; photography; cartoons;
infographics; opinion; newspaper in education; and online news coverage.
The competition is open to English, Spanish or Portuguese news articles
published in 2007 in a newspaper, magazine or online publication. The
deadline for entries is 15 January 2008.
For more information, visit:
Egyptian bloggers, often at the forefront of exposing human rights abuses,
are planning an online festival of torture videos to run alongside the 31st
Cairo Film Festival, from 27 November to 7 December.
According to the "Middle East Times", the parallel festival is the
invention of a blogger named Walid, and will feature "controversial acts of
torture allegedly committed by the security authorities." Prizes, including
a "Golden Whip", will be awarded to the best entrants.
Egypt's bloggers have exposed many incidents of police torture. In a rare
case of security forces being sentenced for abusing detainees, two
policemen got three years in jail for torturing a man in their custody
earlier this month. Footage of the abuse filmed with a mobile phone was
widely distributed on YouTube and sparked nationwide and international
But bloggers who are critical of the government can also find themselves as
victims. Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer, who is serving a four-year jail term
for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak, has recently been tortured
while in custody, reports the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
(HRInfo). Amer, the first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for his Internet
postings, has three more years left in his sentence. For more on the Amer
case, see:
See the "Middle East Times":
Dear Communiqué readers:
PLEASE NOTE: Starting next week, the following list of alerts will no
longer be carried in the "IFEX Communiqué".
Instead, IFEX is launching a new product on 28 November: the "IFEX Digest".
The Digest offers a twice-weekly, one-stop overview of all the alerts
issued in recent days, packaged together with references to additional
sources on the same cases, and grouped by region, country and story. It's
this list below, plus more!
To subscribe to the "IFEX Digest", click here:
Thank you,
Natasha Grzincic, Online Editor
23 NOVEMBER 2007
Australia - CAPSULE REPORT: RSF outlines what the next prime minister must
do to improve press freedom
Niger - Magistrate rejects illegally-obtained evidence against RFI
journalist; IFJ urges president to ensure his and another journalist's
Serbia - Two female journalists subjected to verbal attack after
interviewing politician
Slovenia - Prime minister irate over journalists' petition regarding
pressure on newsrooms, alleges political motives
Turkey - Investigation into murders of publishing house employees overly
focused on victims' "missionary activities"
Venezuela - Ruling party National Assembly member hits journalist over book
content cited on television
China - Three Swiss journalists and Chinese camerawoman detained, released;
government press attacks foreign media and RSF as Olympics approach
Malaysia - Government orders media not to cover rally supporting lawsuit
against British government
Haiti - Two suspects arrested for Gonaïves radio station manager's murder
United Arab Emirates - Owner of website avoids prison on appeal
Macedonia/Serbia - SEEMO condemns recent attacks on media outlets,
Kenya/Zimbabwe - Human rights commissioner urges legislative reforms to
ensure freedom of expression ahead of elections
Turkey - Activist-lawyer receives criminal conviction over references to
Turkey - Journalist faces possible imprisonment in "confidentiality of
sources" case
Azerbaijan - Prison sentence not the answer to unethical journalism, says
South Africa - Minister must follow due process to withhold information on
"national security" grounds, says FXI
22 NOVEMBER 2007
Palestine - Gaza Strip journalist receives death threats; TV station chief
held overnight; bail imposed on detained reporter, cameraman
China (Tibet) - Three Tibetans given harsh prison sentences for sending
photographs abroad; another given eight-year sentence following speech
Yemen - Al-Arabiya satellite television station journalists prevented from
covering social unrest
Pakistan - Aaj television journalist abducted, brutally beaten in Karachi
21 NOVEMBER 2007
Venezuela - IAPA mission expresses deep concern over climate for press
Mexico - One year after editor went missing, his family complains of lack
of progress in the investigation
Iraq/United States - US says long-detained AP photographer Bilal Hussein
will be charged
Nepal - Investigation into journalist's abduction continues in context of
ongoing violence against media
China/International - WAN awards 2008 Golden Pen of Freedom prize to
persecuted Chinese journalist
Venezuela - In Mérida, ULA TV workers interfere with station's operations;
local residents threaten reporters, accuse them of distorting facts
Argentina - Journalists threatened by mayor and provincial legislator in
San Pedro de Jujuy
Peru - Mayor, municipal councillor acquitted of involvement in journalist's
Uruguay - Senate approves Community Broadcasting Bill
Sri Lanka - Newspaper delivery person missing, believed abducted
Nepal - Maoist cadres briefly detain, harass and threaten to kill
Sri Lanka - Arsonists destroy publishing house of critical newspapers
20 NOVEMBER 2007
Haiti - Head of commission probing murders of journalists flees country
after being threatened and followed
Mexico - Attorney General retracts allegation that disappeared TV Azteca
journalists had ties to drug traffickers
Pakistan - Mass arrest of journalists during protests in Karachi, several
beaten, injured
Iraq - Journalist arrested, may face "terrorist activity" charges; another
released; Kurdish regional government forbids reporters to visit PKK bases
Turkey - Mother, supporters of killed student leader acquitted of "praising
crime" through battle cry at graveside memorial
Sudan - Two newspaper editors detained for refusing pay fine
International - WAN's half-year report finds more than 100 journalists
killed in 2007
South Korea - New press passes limit journalists' free access to government
buildings, says IPI
Iraq - TV journalist kidnapped, released after three days; death threats
against reporter in Diwaniya; journalist's home blown up in Baquba
Turkey - Prosecutor drops criminal charges against journalist who wrote
about soldiers' dissatisfaction
Turkey - Military bans print, broadcast coverage of trial of soldiers
previously taken hostage by separatist group
Pakistan - Widow of slain North Waziristan journalist murdered
Pakistan/United Arab Emirates - Station owner harassed, financial losses
severe as ban on television stations continue
Cambodia - Government confiscates new magazine over critical articles;
fearing arrest, editor and distribution director go into hiding
Malaysia - Members of ruling political party assault photographer at
opposition press conference
South Africa - Growing trend of employers silencing criticisms as three
workers disciplined, one dismissed
Cambodia - Journalists charged with theft, arrested briefly after taking
pictures of illegal farm
Sri Lanka - Proofreader of persecuted newspaper feared abducted
Nepal - Two journalists receive death threat from police official following
critical coverage
Mexico - Reynosa mayor threatens "Reforma" newspaper journalist
Turkey - Diyarbakir broadcaster harassed over Kurdish-language programming;
radio station on trial over song
Vietnam - RSF calls for release of French journalist arrested while
"peacefully promoting freedom of expression"
19 NOVEMBER 2007
Pakistan/United Arab Emirates - Two Pakistani television channels
broadcasting from Dubai ordered off the air
Cyprus - Ultra-nationalists threaten writer, journalist over stories
promoting tolerance, human rights
Brazil - Judge grants "provisional" injunction prohibiting newspaper from
publishing articles about congress representative
Venezuela - Two journalists assaulted, one injured, in Barinas; Globovisión
television station again harassed
International - Freedom of expression should be at core of Internet
governance debates, says WPFC
Australia/East Timor/Indonesia - Coroner says death of "Balibo Five" was
premeditated war crime by Indonesian army
Serbia - Entrepreneur harasses newspaper over critical stories, threatens
legal action
Nepal - Journalists barred from taking photographs of Maoist cadres
destroying local resident's house
Peru - Reporters assaulted while filming authorities' examination and
removal of murder victim's body
Somalia (Somaliland) - Proposed new media law undermines freedom of
expression, says NUSOJ
Africa - New journalists' federation calls on African Union, UN to act
against states violating media rights
Turkey - Issue of newspaper confiscated for "anti-military" article
Cuba - Journalists denied permission to emigrate
Mexico - Journalist threatened and punched following coverage criticising
PAN senator
The "IFEX Communiqué" is published weekly by the International Freedom of
Expression eXchange (IFEX). IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for
Free Expression ( on behalf of the network's 81 member
The "IFEX Communiqué" is also available in French, Spanish, Russian
( and Arabic (
The views expressed in the "IFEX Communiqué" are the sole responsibility of
the sources to which they are attributed.
The "IFEX Communiqué" grants permission for its material to be reproduced
or republished provided it is credited as the source.

Next in World

Tigray: Eritrean Refugees ‘scared And Struggling To Eat’ Amid Aid Obstacles
By: UN News
Rare Coral Reef Discovered Near Tahiti Is ‘Like A Work Of Art’, Says Diver
By: UN News
Tonga Volcano Eruption: At Least 3 Dead, Amid Severe Destruction
By: UN News
UN Chief Lauds ‘Demonstrable Effort To Make Peace’ In Ethiopia
By: UN News
Agencies Suspend Tigray Aid As ‘Scores’ Are Killed Due To Airstrikes
By: UN News
Climate Change: For 25th Year In A Row, Greenland Ice Sheet Shrinks
By: UN News
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media