Attacks on the Press in 2009

Attacks on the Press   |   Uganda

Attacks on the Press 2009: Uganda

Top Developments
• Reporters attacked, harassed during Kampala unrest.
• Criminal cases pile up as high court considers constitutional challenge.

Key Statistic
22: Criminal cases pending against Andrew Mwenda, a top political editor.


Violent protests broke out in Kampala in September when security forces blocked leaders of the traditional kingdom of the Baganda, Uganda’s largest ethnic group, from visiting Kayunga district for a planned rally, according to local news reports. More than 25 people were killed and 846 people arrested in two days of clashes that underscored political tensions between the government and the kingdom, according to official figures reported in the press.

February 16, 2010 12:11 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ukraine

Attacks on the Press 2009: Ukraine

Top Developments
• Broadcast media face strong political pressure.
• Ex-Interior Ministry official arrested in Gongadze murder.

Key Statistic
5: Years since the Orange Revolution. Optimism has since dimmed.

A deep recession, tensions with neighboring Russia, and a coming presidential election placed greater stress on the country’s already weak and fractured political leadership. While the media remained freer and more pluralistic than in most post-Soviet countries, journalists struggled to report on widespread government corruption and other abuses. A chaotic and sometimes dangerous environment for journalists increased the prevalence of self-censorship.

February 16, 2010 12:10 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   USA

Attacks on the Press 2009: United States

Top Developments
• Authorities hold Iraqi journalist without charge or due process.
• Obama, Congress send encouraging messages on press freedom

Key Statistic
10: Days that U.S. immigration officials detained a VOA reporter during a visa dispute.


The administration made encouraging statements in support of press freedom—including remarks by President Barack Obama on World Press Freedom Day—but the U.S. military continued to jail one overseas journalist without charge or due process. U.S. forces in Iraq were holding Ibrahim Jassam, a freelance photojournalist working for Reuters, despite a local court order that he be released. The military asserted that Jassam posed a threat, but it disclosed no evidence. In September, on the anniversary of Jassam’s 2008 detention, CPJ called on U.S. military forces to either charge or release the journalist.

February 16, 2010 12:09 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Uzbekistan

Attacks on the Press 2009: Uzbekistan

Top Developments
• Nation is a persistent jailer of journalists.
• Security agents enforce rigid censorship.

Key Statistic
4: Years EU human rights sanctions were in place before being lifted in 2009.

President Islam Karimov’s authoritarian government held at least seven journalists in prison, retaining its notorious distinction as the region’s leading jailer of journalists. Authorities harassed independent journalists, blocked critical news Web sites, and retained their tight grip on traditional media. Lawyers who defended journalists found themselves the targets of state retaliation as the country’s judicial system grew more punitive. While authorities kept a stranglehold on free expression at home, Uzbek diplomats insisted that their country’s actions were consistent with democratic principles.

February 16, 2010 12:08 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Venezuela

Attacks on the Press 2009: Venezuela

Top Developments
• Regulators strip licenses from critical broadcasters.
• Government wages politicized investigation into Globovisión.

Key Statistic
34: Private radio and television stations pulled from the air.


After scoring a major victory in a February referendum that granted indefinite presidential re-election, President Hugo Chávez Frías and his government intensified their years-long crackdown on the private media. The government’s regulatory body took unprecedented steps to target critical broadcasters. Arbitrary decisions stripped private radio stations of their licenses, while a series of investigations threatened to shut down Venezuela’s remaining critical television broadcaster, Globovisión. In the country’s interior, an outspoken government critic was jailed, and an investigative reporter was slain in direct reprisal for his work.

February 16, 2010 12:07 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Vietnam

Attacks on the Press 2009: Vietnam

Top Developments
• Bloggers face regular harassment and detention.
• Government conducts extensive online censorship.

Key Statistic
300: Number of cybercafés outfitted with software tracking visits to banned Web sites.

While maintaining its tight grip on traditional news media, the government intensified its already significant controls over the Internet with new restrictions on content and heightened monitoring of the blogs that have emerged as an alternative source of news and commentary. Internet penetration continued to surge, with an estimated 22 million users among the country’s approximately 89 million people, according to Ministry of Information and Telecommunications statistics.

February 16, 2010 12:06 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Yemen

Attacks on the Press 2009: Yemen

Top Developments
• Government censors newspapers, establishes new press court.
• Two journalists jailed without charge; one missing after being abducted.

Key Statistic
8: Newspapers banned for periods beginning in May due to their coverage of unrest in the south.


Continuing a steady years-long decline, Yemen became one of the most repressive countries in the region for the press. Journalists covering clashes in the country’s restive south faced severe restrictions. Government repression reached its peak in May, when at least eight newspapers that had covered violent protests were barred from distribution, several papers faced criminal charges, and one paper came under direct attack from state security agents. Government officials established a special court for perceived news media offenses.

February 16, 2010 12:05 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Zambia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Zambia

Top Developments
• Ruling party supporters behind assaults against journalists.
• Government wages politicized prosecutions against The Post.

Key Statistic
400: Estimated turnout at a demonstration protesting anti-press attacks.


Press freedom deteriorated in the first full year of Rupiah Banda’s presidency. Tensions mounted between Banda’s government and the leading independent daily The Post. Politicized criminal charges were leveled at Post staff members concerning the circulation of photos that Banda labeled “obscene” but others saw as a shocking look at a government health-care problem. Ruling party supporters were tied to a series of attacks against The Post and other journalists.

February 16, 2010 12:04 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Zimbabwe

Attacks on the Press 2009: Zimbabwe

Top Developments
• Government fails to implement reforms allowing private media to operate.
• Two international broadcasters allowed to resume operation.

Key Statistic
$32,000: Application and accreditation fees imposed on international journalists.


In a measure of the deplorable state of press freedom in Zimbabwe, a year marked by harassment and obstruction was considered a small step forward. “Journalists continue to be followed, detained, and abducted; phones and e-mail messages are intercepted; the output of news from government reminds one of Radio Moscow during the Soviet era,” Geoff Hill, exiled Zimbabwean journalist and author, told CPJ.

February 16, 2010 12:03 AM ET

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