Attacks on the Press in 2009

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

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Attacks on the Press   |   Kazakhstan

Attacks on the Press 2009: Kazakhstan

Top Developments
• Repressive media law takes effect, sets limits online.
• Politicized lawsuits threaten independent newspapers.

Key Statistic
2010: Year that Kazakhstan assumes chairmanship of OSCE.

The authoritarian government of this central Asian nation brazenly defied international standards for freedom of expression even as it prepared to assume chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Vienna-based human rights and security agency. As part of their bid to lead the OSCE in 2010, President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his government pledged to bring the country’s repressive media laws into compliance with global standards. Instead, Nazarbayev signed into law a measure that places expansive new restrictions on Internet expression, requires online service providers to collect client information for authorities, and further extends censorship rules for all media. Authorities jailed critics and filed politicized lawsuits that sought to shut down critical news outlets, but reported no progress in investigating assaults on independent reporters.

February 16, 2010 12:28 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Kyrgyzstan

Attacks on the Press 2009: Kyrgyzstan

Top Developments
• Saipov murder case unsolved and beset by questions.
• Four journalists badly beaten; no arrests made.

Key Statistic
76: Percentage of vote won by Kurmanbek Bakiyev in flawed presidential election.

The press climate deteriorated in this mountainous central Asian nation that once offered promise for democracy and free expression. The government’s erratic investigation into the unsolved 2007 murder of editor Alisher Saipov stained the nation’s law enforcement and press freedom record. At least four critical reporters were brutally attacked, and one fled the country in the face of continuing threats. An independent Russian-language newspaper closed after its staffers received anonymous threats.

February 16, 2010 12:28 AM ET

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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

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Attacks on the Press   |   Madagascar

Attacks on the Press 2009: Madagascar

Top Developments
• Rival leaders use media empires to pursue political goals.
• Partisan attacks target journalists, news outlets.

Key Statistic
1: Journalist killed in 2009, the first Malagasy media fatality ever recorded by CPJ.


Malagasy journalists faced censorship, threats, and arrest as former president Marc Ravalomanana and new head of state Andry Rajoelina used their partisan media empires in a struggle for control of this Indian Ocean island nation. One journalist was killed in the midst of violent unrest.

February 16, 2010 12:28 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Mexico

Attacks on the Press 2009: Mexico

Top Developments
• Amid threats and attacks, self-censorship becomes more pervasive.
• Congress stalls on reforms to combat violence against the press.

Key Statistic
9: Journalists missing since 2005. Most had covered crime and corruption.


The deepening influence of organized crime and the government’s inability to curb worsening violence left the news media wide open to attack. In the last 10 years alone, CPJ research shows, 32 editors and reporters have been killed, at least 11 in direct reprisal for their work. Nine more journalists have disappeared since 2005. Most of those targeted had covered organized crime, drug trafficking, or government corruption—topics that journalists say they increasingly avoid in fear of reprisal. Reforms that would impose special penalties for attacks on the press and give the federal government broad authority to prosecute crimes against free expression were stalled in Congress.

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

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Attacks on the Press   |   Nicaragua

Attacks on the Press 2009: Nicaragua

Top Developments
• Ortega administration marginalizes private media.
• Authorities use legal harassment, smears against critics.

Key Statistic
0: Number of press conferences held by Ortega since taking office.


Three decades after a revolution swept the Sandinistas into power, the government of President Daniel Ortega still cast private media as enemies and moved forcefully to curtail their influence. Ortega—who led the 1979 uprising against the Somoza dictatorship and reclaimed the presidency in 2006 elections—employed a range of tactics to marginalize the press, including legal persecution, smear campaigns to discredit adversaries, and manipulation of state advertising to punish critical outlets.

February 16, 2010 12:24 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Nepal

Attacks on the Press 2009: Nepal

Top Developments
• Government fails to investigate press freedom abuses.
• Reporter slain after covering Maoist land seizures.

Key Statistic
8th: Ranking on CPJ Impunity Index, making it one of world’s worst for press.

Nepal’s news media entered 2009 in a state of crisis. Attacks on the press had escalated in late 2008 amid a climate of impunity. The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), a local press freedom group, led weeklong, nationwide demonstrations to raise awareness about the deteriorating environment. On December 28, 2008, Maoist leaders signed a 10-point agreement to address the lawless situation. Clauses included a promise to create a governmental bureau to investigate press freedom violations, local news reports said.

February 16, 2010 12:24 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Niger

Attacks on the Press 2009: Niger

Top Developments
• Tandja tightens grip on power, media through constitutional changes.
• Journalists reporting on corruption face government reprisals.

Key Statistic
3: Years beyond his elected term that Tandja can serve, according to a constitutional change.


In an audacious bid to maintain power, President Mamadou Tandja pushed through constitutional amendments repealing presidential term limits and tightening his control of the state media regulatory agency. Facing heavy criticism in the run-up to an August referendum on the constitutional changes, the Tandja administration silenced dissent by imprisoning critics, intimidating news media, and issuing an emergency decree dissolving both the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court. Official results showed that the amendments passed with 92 percent approval, but opposition politicians and their supporters had boycotted the vote, which they called a mockery of the constitution.

February 16, 2010 12:23 AM ET

2009

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