Sign up for PM Award Updates!
 
 

CPJ’s Publication On Attacks On Journalists And The Media


The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has published the 2014 edition of Attacks on the Press: Journalism on the World’s Front Lines. The 240-page study contains both country reports with concise accounts on assaults on media freedom and the freedom of information, and thematic studies on impunity, surveillance, media and markets, censorship, global development, the internet, security and nations at risk.
The thematic studies are the following. Impunity: When Journalists Are Killed, Witnesses May Be Next by Elisabeth Witchel; surveillance: The NSA Puts Journalists under a Cloud of Suspicion by Geoff King; media and markets: Without Stronger Transparency, More Financial Crises Loom by Michael J. Casey; censorship: Would-Be Repressors Brandish ‘Ethics’ as Justification by Jean-Paul Marthoz: global development: Putting Press Freedom at the Heart of Anti-Poverty Efforts by Rob Mahoney; the internet: How the United States’ Spying Strengthens China’s Hand by Joel Simon; security: Finding the Courage to Cover Sexual Violenceby Frank Smyth; nations at risk: CPJ Risk List: Where Press Freedom Suffered by Maya Taal.
“Every day, journalists around the world face incredible risks – from imprisonment and assassination to simply just ‘disappearing’ – all for the ethical practice of their profession. Caught between wars and uprisings and corrupt police and drug cartels, as well as increasingly oppressive censorship laws, they find themselves in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable,” says CPJ.
More Information About this Book

Murder of Cambodian Journalist Latest In Saga Of Impunity

Cambodians read local newspaper (Pic courtesy AFP/RFA)


Suon Chan, 44, who worked for a local Khmer-language newspaper Meakea Kampuchea, was murdered on the evening of February 1, in Peam Chhkork in central Cambodia, allegedly by a group of fishermen. Though yet to be officially confirmed, the likely motive is because he wrote against illegal fishing.

Chan was killed after he was attacked outside his home, apparently when he stepped out to buy cigarettes. He was beaten with bamboo sticks and stones and others who came to help him were also assaulted. He died on the way to hospital from head and neck injuries. The attackers have escaped.
“Like the Cambodian Centre for Independent Media (CCIM) and the United Nations, we urge the authorities to shed light on this act of savagery, to not rule a possible link to the victim’s work, and to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, head, Asia-Pacific desk of the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
There is however some ambiguity regarding the motive of the killing. RSF reported that Peam Chhkork’s police chief, Duong Vuthy, had initially attributed the murder to Chan’s articles about illegal fishing, but had later retracted saying the police were investigating the motive. He had said however admitted that four main suspects and were being sought by the police.
The Washington DC-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) also reported contradictory statements by the police. It said Chhokiri District’s police chief, Morm Thon, had told RFA’s Khmer service that three persons had been identified, but had denied Chan was killed because his recent articles had led to a raid b the police on illegal fishing.
“Through my investigations, the murder is not related to these articles,” he said. “It was a violent fight. We are working to arrest the suspects,” RFA quoted Thon saying.
But unlike what he told RSF, RFA quoted Duong Vuthy attributing the killing to Chan’s reporting on illegal fishing. “So far, we do not know the exact reason for this journalist’s assassination, but according to our preliminary investigation, it is related to the rancour between the victim and the group of suspects, because he used his influence as a journalist in reporting and writing about the suspects’ illegal fishing activities in the commune,” he said.
What is disturbing is the killing is another example of impunity that murderers of journalists enjoy because the government and the police are reluctant to pursuing perpetrators.
RFA said the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) issued a statement, Monday, saying the killing was an affront to freedom of expression in the country. The statement said journalists “are regularly targeted for their work and where a culture of impunity for these crimes reigns. The majority of these deaths have not been properly investigated, with the perpetrators still at large and rewarded with complete impunity for their crimes.
“CCHR urges the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure that a full and impartial investigation into Suon Chan’s death is conducted and that the perpetrators are brought to justice, not only to ensure justice for Suon Chan’s family but also to promote a culture of respect for and protection of journalists and their work.”
RSF echoed CCHR’s warning against impunity. It said, “If it is confirmed that Suon Chan was killed because of his work as a journalist, this murder would constitute yet another grave violation of freedom of information in Cambodia. A thorough investigation is needed to end the tradition of impunity for those who murder journalists in Cambodia.”
Chan is the 12th journalist killed in Cambodia since 1994.
The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) while condemning the incident also drew attention to recent attacks on media freedom in Cambodia. It said, “Chan is the 12th journalist to be killed in Cambodia and the first since Virakchun (Hero) Khmer Daily journalist Hang Serei Oudom was brutally murdered in an axe attack in Rattanakiri province in September 2012.
“The IFJ is deeply concerned about journalist safety in Cambodia in recent weeks, following an attack by Cambodian authorities on an AFP photographer during a peaceful protest on January 27. The demonstration, led by president of independent station Radio Beehive FM Mr Mom Sonando, was held to demand a TV license and an expansion of radio frequency,” IFJ said.
In 2013, Cambodia ranked 143rd of 179 countries in RSF’s press freedom index.

Taliban Kills Three Journalists, Vows To Attacks “Propagandists” Again

                                                                        Pic courtesy RSF


Three TV journalists from the Express Media Group were murdered on January 17 in Karachi, capital of Pakistan’s violence-wracked Sindh. The Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility.
Media watchdogs expressed outrage at Islamabad’s lethargy in pursuing investigations into incidents of violence against journalists and media institutions by Islamist groups, government intelligence agencies and others, and said this had bred a culture of impunity. The January 17 incident is the third armed attack since August on the politically liberal Express Media Group.

“It is time that the Sharif government took its obligations seriously, to ensure justice is done and that the media is able to operate in Pakistan without fear of deadly reprisal. As long as impunity runs rife in Pakistan, journalists and media workers will continue to die,” said the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Similar sentiments were echoed by Pakistani and other international media freedom monitors.
  
Waqas Aziz (technician), Ashraf Yusuf (security guard) and driver Khalid Khan of ‘Express News,’ were killed when their van parked in North Nazimbad, a suburb of Karachi, during a routine coverage was attacked by four gunmen on two motorbikes who opened fire with silencer-fixed pistols through the vehicle’s open window. A cameraman, identified as Mehtab, also in the vehicle, survived the attack. IFJ said 17 shell casings from 9mm and 32-bore pistols were recovered from the crime.
IFJ and the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) seemed to accept that TTP was responsible for the incident. “TTP representative Ehsanullah Ahsan said his group was responsible for the shooting. Speaking by telephone on the ‘Express News‘ programme Kal Tak, he said that, ‘in the war of ideologies all media channels including ‘Express News‘ are acting as propagandist and as rival party,'” said RSF.
However, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed reservation. While noting that Ehsanullah Ehsan had contacted ‘Express News’ and indeed claimed responsibility for the attack and Reuters had reported that a “regional Taliban leader” had too claimed the attack, CPJ said, “The Taliban had also rushed to claim responsibility for the 2012 murder of Mukarram Khan Aatif, but local journalists soon cast doubt on their claim. Journalists in Pakistan are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political parties, the military, and intelligence operatives.”
While identity of the attackers are important what has outraged journalists most is the impunity enjoyed by the killers. RSF said, “[Ehsan] warned that the TTP would continue to attack all news media ‘that are involved in carrying out propaganda against us.’ Referring to an earlier attack on the ‘Express Media‘ group in December, [Ehsan] added: ‘We had not incurred any loss of life so we attacked them again.'”
There have been no arrests over the two earlier attacks on the Express Group. On August 17 four gunmen opened fire at the its offices in Karachi injuring a journalist and a security officer and on December 3 a homemade bomb was lobbed into the same premises wounding a security officer.
“Despite visiting the Express Media office in Karachi twice and constituting investigation teams to probe the two incidents, law enforcement agencies have been unable to arrest even a single perpetrator,” the IFJ charged.
The killing brings to four the number of journalists killed this year in Pakistan and 10 fatalities made the country the third worst for journalists and media workers in 2013, said IFJ. Pakistan ranks 159th of179 countries in RSF’s Media Freedom Index.

IFJ Blames Impunity For Journalists’ Killings


Year-end statistics of journalists killed in the line of duty keep coming. On December 31, the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said 108 journalists and media staff were killed as a result of violence worldwide in 2013, which was 10% below that of 2012. Fifteen, IFJ said, died in accidental and illness-related incidents.
Regionally, more journalists died in the Asia-Pacific region – 29% –  than in any other – a surprise considering public attention drawn to the number of journalists and media workers killed in the Middle East last year. However, as individual countries go, Syria (15) and Iraq (13) top the list.
The big scorers in Asia were India, Pakistan and the Philippines with 10 each.
IFJ linked the killing of journalists to the UN Day to End Impunity by pointing out that impunity for killers is the reason for the murder of journalists to remain so consistently high.    
“Following the United Nations’ resolution establishing 2 November as an International Day to End Impunity, we urge countries across the world to take immediate action to protect the safety and freedom of journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We give our full support to this new initiative which we believe will contribute to fighting impunity across the globe provided that governments are willing to adopt a zero tolerance approach to violence targeting journalists.
Click here to read the details.

Bahrain Arrests Photojournalist For Witness On Impunity

 

(Pc courtesy bahrainalyoum.net)

Media freedom monitors have called for the immediate release Ahmed Al-Fardan a Bahraini photojournalist held without charges and beaten since December 26. It is believed Al-Fardan was arrested because of his photographing of human rights violations in Bahrain and for his campaign for the release of a fellow-journalist detained since December 2012. Al-Fardan was earlier arrested in August, assaulted and threatened with death before he was released.
Al-Fardan worked as a photojournalist for Nurphoto, Demotex and Sipa

New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Al-Fardan’s father Jabar had told a Bahraini newspaper the police had stormed the house in the early hours of December 26, handcuffed his son and taken him away to an undisclosed destination. Al-Fardan had later telephone to say he was safe but had not given any indication of his whereabouts, his father disclosed.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) said he had not been allowed visitors and CPJ quoted the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights that no charges had been filed.
“We condemn Fardan’s arbitrary arrest and demand his immediate and unconditional release,” RSF said. “We also call on the Bahraini authorities to stop using arbitrary detention to gag dissident journalists. Such practices constitute a grave threat to freedom of information and flout Bahrain’s international obligations.”
CPJ said, “Al-Fardan is also known for advocating for his fellow photographers. In his last tweet, on Monday, he called for the release of Ahmed Humaidan, another Bahraini photojournalist who has been imprisoned for a year because of his work in documenting protests against Bahraini authorities. Al-Fardan also participated in a demonstration this month calling for Humaidan’s release.”
Al-Fardan’s photograph won the second place in IFEX’s contest in November to expose impunity.
Both CPJ and RSF referred to Al-Fardan’s arrest (CPJ called it a kidnapping) in August by security forces personnel in plainclothes who beat and threatened with death before being released with injuries.