Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Journalists Killed In Syria: Mandates And Assumptions In Computing Numbers

An issue that comes up when speaking about extrajudicial killing, disappearances, imprisonment or exiled journalists is that the numbers compiled by media watchdogs do not always tally. This blog referred to discrepancies in the numbers of imprisoned journalists in the computation by Reporters without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its post of December 19.

Numbers matter. But discrepancies usually occur not because of intentional falsification of figures or careless errors, but because organisations adopt differing assumptions or criteria used to compute the numbers.

On December 30, CPJ posts an article on an important issue that has been in the news – the number of journalists killed in Syria in 2013. It says it is 29. But the authors of the post Jason Stern and Mark Robson also tell us how they arrived at the figure.

“Other organizations that do similar reporting, like Reporters Without Borders, SKeyes, and the Syrian Journalists Association, all do tremendous work. They face the same challenges and debate the same questions we do, even as they may differ in mandates and methods. As a result, we have all arrived at different numbers of journalists killed in Syria this year. But ultimately we all agree on one fact: Syria is the deadliest country in the world to work as a journalist,” they write.

You can read the post here

Monday, December 30, 2013

Crackdown On Ukraine's Journalists: Where Personal And Political Merge

Protests Against Assault on Journalist in Kiev (Pic New York Times)

At first it appears the latest affront to media freedom – the brutal assault in Kiev on journalist Tatyana Chornovol in the early hours on Christmas Day – is the consequence of her critical account of Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko’s financial dealings. But that Zakharchenko controls the police that have repeatedly clashed with anti-government protestors in Ukraine, shows how the personal merges with the political in a country bereft of the rule of law.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Equipping Journalists Better By Changing How Journalism Is Taught

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has in a recent blog post brought together the views of two minds on what ails journalism today and how it could be improved.

Titled ‘Journalism Education and the Teaching Hospital Model,’ it features views of Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Professor Thomas Patterson and Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation.

Journalists have a duty to inform the public and the way they do it now is deeply flawed. Only by deepening journalists’ understanding of what they write can they be expected to inform the public better, they say.

The article is based on an interview given by Patterson, (author of the book ‘Informing the News’) to Harvard Gazette’s Christina Pazannese, and a keynote address to Dutch educators by Newton, (author of ‘Searchlight and Sunglasses: Notes form the Digital Age of Journalism’). Both argue for a new approach to teaching journalism in schools which focus on equipping professionals of the future.

“Instead of simply learning the basic craftwork of a story – how to structure a story with a compelling lead or how to properly conduct interviews – Patterson stresses the importance of learning how to best inform the public. Furthermore, he calls for a complete overhaul of the current reporting system towards a new path called, ‘knowledge-based journalism,’” says World News Publishing Focus.

You can read the article by clicking here

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Malaysia Censoring 'No Fire Zone,' An Attack On Art - Index On Censorship

Index on Censorship (IoC) has highlighted five cases of artistes attacked in 2013 for their performances as an infringement on their freedom of expression. However, while four of the five cases are of intolerant governments and militants groups trying to silence critical voices of performers in their own countries, one instance is different.

Lena Hendry is a programme officer for the non-profit KOMAS in Kuala Lampur Malaysia, but could be imprisoned and fined if found guilty by the Malaysian courts for the private screening of No Fire Zone, a documentary on the massacre of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka during the final few months of the civil war ending in May 2009.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Faisal Salih Acquitted By Sudan Court Of Writing "Lies"

Faisal Salih (2nd left) Catherine Antoine (left) at Peter Mackler Award

In a bold move, a Sudan court acquitted editor and columnist Faisal Mohamed Salih, winner of the 2013 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, of writing “lies” and “insulting the state” that could have earned him a six-month jail sentence.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Freedom Of The Press Foundation's Fight To Protect Journalists From Eveasdroppers

Even as the past week saw at new developments to curb NSA’s surveillance programmes to mass collect metadata of phone call records and content of personal communications via the internet, journalists threatened by government agencies to use phone records to trace their sources of information, are developing new tools to outwit the spies.

Among them is Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) that is improving encryption tools by crowd-funding it. According to the PBS blog MediaShift, tools include the TOR Project, Tails, RedPhone and TextSecure, and LEAP Encryption Access Project.

“[i]ncreasingly, law enforcement doesn’t need to have journalists testify in court because they could get a secret subpoena to look at their phone records and metadata. So what we need from journalists now to protect sources are new tools that can head off that kind of surveillance as well as reforming the laws that allow that kind of surveillance to happen,” said Josh Stearns, a board member of FPF in conversation with MakeShift’s Denise Lu.

You can read the post by clicking here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Above 50% Journalists Imprisoned Worldwide From China, Iran, Turkey - CPJ

(Pic. courtesy CPJ)

Three countries – Turkey, Iran and China – incarcerated more than half the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide in 2013 says a statement by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on a study done by the organisation’s editorial director Elena Beiser.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Eight Journalists Killed In 2013 Broke All Records In India - RSF

(Pic courtesy The Guardian)

India ranks first among democracies and third in the world, in the number of journalists killed in the line of duty this year. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kurdistan Does Better Than Iraq Investigating Journalists' Killings

Kewa Germayani (Pic IFJ)

Autonomous regions within States are sometimes more progressive in enforcing the rule of law in comparison with the States themselves. An example is the contrast between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the national government of Iraq in dealing with infringements on freedom of the media.

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) was carved out of Iraq in the 1970s after years of bitter fighting between the Kurds and the Arab-dominated Iraq. It has remained autonomous despite being under attack by Iraqi governments, most notably President Saddam Hussein.

On December 5, Kewa Germayani, editor of the magazine ‘Reyal’ was shot dead in front of his home at Kalar in the KRI. According to the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF), he had written extensively on corruption in the KRI and under threat. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

On Forthright Comment In Online Comments

The Open Society Foundation website has posted an interesting article on a report that examines the challenges to editors as they walk the fine line of moderating comments pre-publication, while trying to facilitate robust exchanges on controversial subjects.

The report ‘Online Comment Moderation: Emerging Best Practices’ was undertaken for the World Editors’ Forum by interviewing 96 publications that accepted comments. The study followed the controversy that emerged in the Estonian online portal ‘Delfi.’ When anonymous comments published in ‘Delfi,’ an Estonian court had found the portal liable. ‘Delfi’ in turn appealed to the European Court on Human Rights, which upheld the national court’s verdict.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sri Lanka's President Calls Playwright To Commiserate After Banning Play

Glorious Honourable Excellency Chaminda Pusswedilla (Pic Colombo Gazette)

Sri Lanka that stands 163rd of 179 states in the Reporters without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index took a new step in suppressing freedom of expression when it banned an English-Sinhala play satirising the country’s president and government. But taking matters to farcical proportions was President Mahinda Rajapakse calling on playwright Feroze Kamardeen to commiserate with him and distance himself from the censorship.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exasperated Media and Rights Organisations Appeal to Syrian Abductors

Bourgeoning violence in Syria saw two appeals with multiple signatories being addressed to the warring groups in that country. One letter asks the leadership of the armed opposition in Syria to desist from kidnapping journalists, while the other addressed to the abductors of four well-known human rights activists working near Damascus, demands their release.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Honduran Journalist Killed As Defeated Castro Disputes Polls

As Honduras’ unsuccessful candidate at the November 24 presidential election Xiomara Castro continued to dispute the polls result, the ensuing political turmoil has claimed another journalist’s life. What is unfortunate is that he is the third journalist killed this year in Honduras and more tragically also the third from Globo Media Group which is known to support Castro.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Internet Makes Governments More Responsive To Voters

The transformative role played by the internet is highlighted in an article in CircleID that says the top-down approach the conventionally powerful – politicians, business elites, international organisations among others – use to control the less-empowered masses is changing due to technology.

“Governments and international organisations will need to transform like all the other sectors. The top-down paradigm no longer works; a much broader approach needs to be taken, from the bottom up, if they are to remain relevant in the new digital age,” says Paul Budde of Paul Budde Communication.

Friday, December 6, 2013

US Timid in Taking On Beijing About Journalists' Visas - China Law & Policy

Reuters' Paul Mooney (Pic. courtesy CLP)
Written days before the most recent hurdles placed by Beijing preventing journalists of two prominent US media organisations – Bloomberg and The New York Times – from obtaining work visas for the coming year, this two-part article in China Law and Policy (CLP) examines the hurdles before foreign correspondents to stop them from reporting from China.

‘Another American Reporter Banned from Beijing’ by Elizabeth M. Lynch, while unsparing of China’s policy in granting visas is also critical of the US Government’s timidity in challenging Beijing and is cognisant of the consequences if the foreign media is prevented from covering the country comprehensively.

“To date, the U.S. government has remained silent about China’s assault on foreign journalists, even as U.S. citizens and news outlets are increasingly targeted… The U.S. government’s silence is not without its costs.  As the world’s second largest economy and an increasingly bellicose nation, accurate reporting on the country is imperative to the United States. 

“If Beijing is permitted to continue to trifle with foreign journalists’ visas, frank reporting on China will become a relic of the past.  But it is the U.S. government that can prevent this outcome if it chooses to act and not wait for the situation to get worse.  Which it will if the past year is any guide,” said CLP.

The article used Reuters' Paul Mooney to give a human face to the problem.

“In April 2013, Mooney was summoned to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco for an interview.  But again what should have been a routine affair proved to be a 90 minute interrogation.  Familiar with his articles and prior visa interviews, the consular officer grilled Mooney on some of his more critical articles such as the suppression of Chinese rights activists and the Chinese government’s treatment of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng.  According to Mooney, the official ended the interview telling him that if China let him back in he hoped that his reporting would prove more ‘objective,’” said CLP.

Read the article here

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New York Times, Bloomberg To Be Expelled From China

US VP Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping  (Washington Post) 

Two US-based media organisations – the New York Times and Bloomberg News – could be expelled from China with Beijing refusing to renew work visas of their journalists. Recent articles by both highlighted issues of corruption and nepotism among China’s elite.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Important Study On Media Literacy

The Centre for International Media Assistance (CIMA) recently published ‘Media Literacy 2.0: Sampling of Programs around the World,’ which builds on three reports compiled by the organisation in 2009.

In its follow-up publication the Washington DC-based CIMA, which is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy asks the question “Do media literacy programs offer a promising new approach to media development, or is it yet another example of further fragmentation of overall media development efforts? What have we learned in recent years about how to best approach such programs? Has the expansion of social media and mobile devices had an impact on the way media development organizations approach media literacy?”

The study done by John Burgess contends that while there is much research needed on the subject of media literacy this attempt highlights some approaches to study of the subject.

You can read the report by clicking here  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tortured, Imprisoned and Beterayed, Muhammad Bekjanov Fights Against Uzbek Repression

Muhammad Bekjanov (Pic. PN America)

The prestigious Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Prize 2013, was announced Wednesday. The recipient in the ‘individual’ category was Uzbek journalist Muhammad Bekjanov, serving his 14th year and second sentence in prison, while Sri Lanka’s Tamil-language newspaper the ‘Uthayan,’ attacked 35 times during its 28-year existence was awarded in the ‘newspaper’ category.

This blog featured the life and times of the ‘Uthayan’ in its post, Thursday. Today we will take a brief look at Bekjanov editor of the opposition newspaper ‘Erk’ and the political environment in which he wrote. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Forty-five Journalists Among Injured As Ukranian Police Attack Protestors

Protests in Kiev

Journalists were among those injured Sunday, when Ukrainian police attacked protestors who broke away from a 300,000-strong demonstration in Kiev to storm President Viktor Yanukovych’s offices after he refused to sign a free trade agreement and establish deeper political links with the European Union.

Friday, November 29, 2013

UN Committee Adopts Resolution Against Mass Internet Surveillance

The United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee unanimously adopted a resolution on November 26 reaffirming privacy as a human right and that it is an integral aspect in individuals exercising their freedom of expression. Although the resolution has largely symbolic value, the United States and its allies successfully lobbied to delete a clause in an earlier draft stating that mass surveillance is a violation of human rights.    

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Press Freedom Prize to Uzbek Journalist Bekjanov, Tamil Newspaper 'Uthayan'

PM David Cameron with Uthayan's publisher (L) and Editor (Pic.Daily Mirror)

The Press Freedom Prize awarded by Reporters without Borders (RSF), Le Monde and TV5Monde, went to a journalist and a newspaper whose sacrifice for the freedom of information in the face gargantuan challenges can only be described in superlatives. The honour presented in two categories – individual journalist and newspaper – went to Uzbek journalist Muhammad Bekjanov and the Sri Lankan Tamil-language daily ‘Uthayan.’ 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Media, Freedom Of Expression Suffer In Hounduras' Post-election Violence

Protestor hit by teargas cannister (Pic courtesy Rebel Reporting)

Hopes that the November 24 presidential election would usher in an era of democratic governance and respect for human rights – especially freedom of expression and information – suffered a setback after rival candidates claimed victory at the polls that resulted in street violence, where journalists also became victims.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CPJ Awards Four Journalists' Struggle For Press Freedom

The International Press Freedom Award Dinner 2012 (Pic. CPJ)

The 23rd annual International Press Freedom Award sponsored by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) will be held this evening to recognise the struggle for media freedom.

The black tie event, to be hosted this year by Scott Pelley, managing editor CBS Evening News, at New York’s Waldorf Astoria, will honour four journalists from Ecuador, Egypt, Turkey and Vietnam, who work in perilous environments for the freedom of the media and access to information.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Does Nuke Deal Point To Domestic Reforms In Iran?

Iran President Hassan Rouhani (Pic. courtesy Deutsche Welle)

The deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries early Sunday, has given fresh life to speculation whether the agreement will allow Teheran to crackdown with greater ease on dissidents, human rights defenders and independent journalists, now that western liberal governments are mollified by freeze on the country’s nuclear programme. The deal comes less than week after Reporters without Borders (RSF) reported lukewarm progress in Iran to ease constraints on censorship and freedom of information. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Journalist-Killers At Large

Reporters without Borders (RSF) called for an “overhaul of the entire media” of Honduras after elections are held on Saturday. RSF’s call comes on the international day to end impunity, which, coincidentally, has relevance to Honduras where 27 journalists have been murdered since the coup in 2009 and perpetrators have gone largely free. RSF has also named Honduran journalist Annibal Barrow with nine other murdered journalists to symbolise impunity throughout the world.

It is also a source of pride to this blog that RSF has interviewed Karla Rivas, news director of Radio Progresso on the state of the media in Honduras. Rivas was the winner of the annual Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism in 2011. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tanzania's Parliament Rejects Media Censorship Bill

Tanzania's Media Confronts Government (Pic. courtesy RSF)

The media and human rights activists expressed relief that the National Assembly of Tanzania had rejected a bill on November 8 that would have increased fines for offences such as “publishing false news” and “incitement to violence.” The bill came before Tanzania’s parliament less than month after a series of publications were closed by the Tanzanian government that resulted in irate journalists refusing to give coverage to two government officers that personified the censorship.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Watching China's Sina Weibo Watchers

As China gets more proficient in censoring the media and controlling opinion overseas (see the November 18 posting on this blog) China-watchers from ProPublica have put together an interactive feature that allows readers to see and understand what images on Sina Weibo (China’s version of twitter)  is most likely to get censored.
“How Sina Weibo censors its users is as revealing as the content that appears on the site, and for the past five months, we’ve been watching the watchers. We’ve created an interactive feature, launching today, that allows readers to see and understand the images that censors considered too sensitive for Chinese eyes,” said the ProPublica article ‘How to Get Censored on China’s Twitter.’

“‘The Chinese language offers novel evasions, such as substituting characters for those banned with others that have unrelated meanings but sound alike or look similar,’ ProPublica quotes Gary King, a political scientist, as saying in his 2013 study on Chinese censorship. “For example, a nonsensical phrase such as ‘eye field’ looks similar in Chinese to the characters meaning ‘liberty,’” said ProPublica.

Here is the link.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Beijing Handtwists US Media To Suppress China News

Paramilitary officers at Tiannamen Square (Pic. courtesy WP)

China’s moves to control opinion overseas appears to have taken a step forward with the pliant chief editor at one of United States’ most prestigious news agencies killing a story that probed a Chinese billionaire followed by the suspension of the journalist who wrote it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day of Imprisoned Writers - ‘Change only the name and this story is also about you.’

November 15 is the international day of the imprisoned writer. PEN international and PEN networks in many countries have organised events to focus on one of most pernicious forms of censorship – imprisoning writers and journalists. According to PEN, more than 900 writers are in jail for their work, all over the world.

In an interview with Germany’s Radio Deutsche Welle, published on November 15, Sascha Feuchert, vice president of PEN Centre Germany and a representative of the writer-in-prison committee was asked what Germany could do for writers imprisoned in other countries.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

BBC Crew Forcibly Prevented From Speaking To Sri Lanka President

BBC's James Robbins prevented from speaking to Rajapakse (Pic.BBC)

Freedom of the foreign media to cover events in Sri Lanka reached a new low on Wednesday. A BBC camera crew was physically restrained by security personnel to prevent them getting close to the country’s president, Mahinda Rajapakse, to ask him questions. The incident occurred at an event associated with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which Sri Lanka is hosting between November 15 and 17. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turkey, Journalists Are Not Terrorists

                                                                        Courtesy IFJ

Turkey’s dubious reputation as the world biggest jailor of journalists was reinforced on November 5 when four more journalists were imprisoned – three for life – for “trying to overthrow constitutional order by means of violence” and being members of a political body that Ankara considers a terrorist organisation. The incarceration comes just three months after an Istanbul court slapped politically-motivated prison sentences on 12 other journalists – one of them for life – allegedly for their part in the Ergenekon conspiracy. There are numerous other acts of media repression the Turkish government is accused of, including assaults on journalists during anti-regime protests and targeting media organisations of the Kurdish minority.

Monday, November 11, 2013

CCP's Online Offensive Has Chinese Netizens In Retreat

Protests in China

An essay in Global Voices points to an alarming drop of critical posts, including political commentary, in China’s social media during the past three months. The first part of the essay paraphrases Zhu Huaxin, director of the Peoples’ Daily Public Opinion Monitoring Unit announcing at a recent China Internet Media Forum that this was a direct result of a new offensive to win the ideological battle launched by Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He said the CCP had succeeded in persuading online opinion leaders and celebrities to keep to the seven-point self-censorship guideline that makes them exercise more restraint.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mexico Targets Journalists Covering Protests

Police attack protestors in Mexico (Pic. courtesy  Article 19)

Writing on October 23, as Mexico came under the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the New York-based human rights watchdog Freedom House referred to, “[t]he continued violence against journalists in Mexico and ongoing threats to freedom of expression posed by organized crime, widespread insecurity, and endemic corruption and impunity. In framing their questions and recommendations, UNHRC member states should prioritize concerns about freedom of expression, as violence against journalists and human rights defenders, undermines all Mexicans’ fundamental rights.”

This trend is not new. A recent example of media repression is when a group of masked men attacked two radio stations, La Estrella Maya que Habla and La FM Maya, in Quintana Roo, southwest Mexico on October 28 that injured journalists and a caretaker. This was not the first time La Estrella Maya que Habla was attacked.

On October 2, 15 journalists were attacked by police in Mexico City while they were covering protests marking the 45th anniversary of a student massacre in 1968. Many journalists were injured and others had their equipment damaged by marauding law enforcement officers.

“We have previously noted that that abuses directed at journalists covering demonstrations will continue unless they are punished. The trivialization of violence against journalists undermines media coverage of events of this nature. We point out that, without journalists, the demonstrators’ message would not be heard by the public,” said the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF)

The attack on individual journalists and institutions and demonstrating protestors are different strategies carried out by the Mexican government to stifle dissent, especially to ensure that the unpopularity of the government does not achieve wide publicity. RSF says 88 journalist have been killed in the country in the past 10 years and 17 have disappeared.

In view of this, Article 19 launched an initiative to monitor the media to prevent Mexican authorities targeting journalists and others who document protests against the government. The report, which is in Spanish, looks at 46 cases where protestors were attacked by the police.

“In total, 46 cases were documented by Article 19: 30 men, 11 women and 5 people who have not disclosed their gender for security reasons. Thirty-two cases were direct attacks committed by the police, eight were violations committed by unknown groups, three were committed by organised groups which might have been acting with the support and consent of security agents, and three incidents involved attackers with their faces covered,” says a post on Article 19’s website.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Media Watchdogs Urge CHOGM Leaders To Get Tough With Sri Lanka

Sandaya, wife disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda at protest

As Sri Lanka (ranked 162nd of 179 countries in the Reporters without Borders’ Media Freedom Index) prepares to hold the biennial Commonwealth Summit in capital Colombo, media freedom watchdogs are asking attending leaders to press the host government for answers for the country’s abysmal standards of media freedom including the murder and disappearance of journalists.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Report Examines Freedom Of Speech in Australia

Pic. courtesy Index on Censorship

Australia is usually viewed as a liberal democracy by most measures of human freedom. The report ‘From Assange to Murdoch: Australia’s Free Speech Landscape’ by Australian freelance journalist Helen Clark examines media freedom, an area where the country fares relatively well but as the report says is in 26th position in the Reporters without Borders (RSF) Media Freedom Index. It is not in an as enviable a position as New Zealand, its neighbour which is in eighth place.

“Outright press censorship and the highest profile cases of recent years have involved breaches of discrimination acts or incitements to hatred. Meanwhile press laws and reforms to them have been touted with scant success. Widespread internet censorship was defeated last year after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy rescinded the internet filtering scheme after five years trying to pass it,” states the report.

The report looks at media freedom under the arts, legal architecture including laws governing hate speech and censorship, the internet, media ownership and a section titled ‘the Assange Factor.’

You can read the report here

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Murder Of French Journalists Worsens Media Freedom In Mali

Bodies of the two journalists arrive in France (Pic courtesy AFP)

The abduction and murder of two French journalists in Mali last week demonstrates the endangered existence of media freedom – as well as other liberties – in a country where the Malian government, the UN peacekeeping operation MINUSMA supported by French troops, and Taurag rebels including the group National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) maintain security.

Monday, November 4, 2013

After Sri Lanka's Detention of IFJ Activists, Fears of Bigger Crackdown on Journalists

Jacqui Park Jane Worthington (Pic RSF)

Two directors of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) were detained for entering Sri Lanka illegally as the country’s minister of information and the media accused them of “anti-government activity.” Meanwhile, IFJ’s affiliate in Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement (FMM), used the incident to highlight media repression in the country and urge leaders of the Commonwealth who are due to hold its biannual Summit in Colombo in mid-November, to boycott the event because the Government’s suppression of the media violated Commonwealth principles.

Friday, November 1, 2013

US Media Moghuls Helping China Export Repression?

Meeting of WMS's Presidium, October 10 (Pic. The Atlantic)

In ‘Exporting Repression,’ posted in March on the blog of the New York-based think tank Freedom House, Daniel Calingaert speaks of countries governed by authoritarian regimes cooperating with each other to consolidate power over “discontent at home and international criticism.” Calingaert says opposition to the respect of human rights and democracy makes these unlikely allies collaborate.     
“This cooperation, which might be dubbed ‘authoritarian internationalism,’ presents a significant challenge to democracy around the world and has likely contributed to the decline in global freedom registered by Freedom House over the past seven years,” wrote Calingaert, who is Freedom House’s executive vice president.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vietnam: Tale of Two Bloggers

Dinh Nhat Uy (Pic. courtesy RSF)

The power of social media and how repressive governments like Vietnam’s have grown to fear it was evident earlier this week. Blogger Dinh Nhat Uy was given a 15-month suspended sentence – which severely restricts movement – for criticising the government on Facebook, while Nguyen Lan Thang who was taken into custody at Hanoi airport and released a day later, posted the sequence of events, also on Facebook.

Media watchdogs say the real reason for sentencing Uy is because he campaigned for his brother, blogger Dinh Nguyen Kha, imprisoned for four years for anti-government propaganda. They point out that material on which Uy was convicted was four posts written in December 2012, although he was arrested only in June this year as the campaign to release of Kha began to gather momentum.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Somali Media Faces Renewed Challenges: Murder, Raids, Licences

Mohamed Mohamud (Tima’ade) killed by suspected Al-Shabab (Pic:CPJ)

A renewed bout of violence and intimidation on the media in Somalia has drawn international condemnation, although it’s unlikely to deter the country’s lawless authorities and trigger-happy militia that have used their power recently to kill journalists, raid a radio station and censor content on radio by insisting on licences.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Honduran Authorities Kill Journalists To Send A Message

Manuel Murillo Varela (Pic courtesy RSF)

Targeting of journalists in Honduras, on the increase in recent months as the country’s general elections approach, continued with a freelance cameraman in Tegucigalpa the latest victim. Manuel Murillo Varela’s killing on October 25 comes four months after the abduction and murder of Anibal Barrow’s.

To the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, media freedom in Honduras is of special interest because the third winner of the prize – in 2011 – was Karla Rivas working for Radio Progresso. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

"All too often we, the Sudanese people, have the feeling that we are left alone"

Catherine Antoine, Faisal Salih, Somaya Salih, Delphine Halgand

Speaking soon after receiving the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism from chief guest and keynote speaker, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Sudanese editor and journalist Faisal Mohamed Salih highlighted strength the Sudanese press corps derived from unity in the face of political repression and coercion of the media by the country’s President Omar al-Bashir and his government.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Peter Mackler Award Winner Faisal Salih: “There is always a window for reporting.”

From L-R: Catherine Antoine, Faisal Salih, Mrs. Salih, Delphine Halgand

In a ceremony at National Press Club in Washington DC, Thursday, Sudan’s persecuted newspaper editor and media trainer, Faisal Mohamed Salih, became the fifth recipient of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. The keynote speaker at the event was Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, former US special envoy to Sudan.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Faisal Salih To Receive Peter Mackler Award Today

Faisal Salih speaking at Columbia University, New York

Faisal Mohammed Salih, 53, a well-known Sudanese journalist will receive the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism this evening at the National Press Club in Washington DC. He will be the fifth recipient of the award given in memory of Peter Mackler who died in 2008 after a long and distinguished career with the French news agency AFP. The award is given by the Mackler family.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

China Represses Media at Home and Manipulates it Overseas

Tibetan Activist protesting in Front of the UN, Geneva (Pic Reuters)

Western governments, Tuesday, criticised China at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the suppressing freedom of information and speech, including those of netizens, and the Tibetan and Uyghur minorities. Meanwhile, on the same day a Washington think-tank released two reports on China’s bid improve its international profile by manipulating and coercing institutions and individuals overseas.    

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

State Control Of Internet Freedom - Cure Worse Malady?

(pic courtesy rt.com)

New draft legislation was introduced by European Union lawmakers to ensure data protection from foreign spying, as new details surfaced on US surveillance of French phone records. Earlier, Mexico and Brazil expressed outrage on NSA spying on their leaders. But as states erect protection through new regulations to circumvent US law that forces American companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to surrender data to the NSA, thoughtful voices ask whether the cure might be worse than the malady. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Liberian Editor Rodney Sieh Placed Under House Arrest

Campaigning for the Release of Rodney Sieh

This blog has devoted quite a bit of space in the past few weeks to highlight the issue of Liberian editor of FrontPage Africa, Rodney Sieh. This is because the international community continues to ignore the assaults on the freedom of expression in that country. [See for coverage by this blog: here, here and here.]

Liberia is regarded as one of the few countries on the African continent pulling ahead of its peers in establishing democracy, especially in the post-Charles Taylor era. Therefore, ‘minor misdemeanours’ such as Monrovia jailing editors like Sieh should not undermine ties the leading nations on the globe would like cultivating with Liberia. Liberia’s president is Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has great standing in the corridors of power in the world’s liberal democracies which drive opinion and shape politics in the so-called free world.