"I want to send a message to the world; there is no need for defending honorable Egyptian journalists." That's what Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said on World Press Freedom Day this year, speaking at Al-Ahram state newspaper. The same day, Al-Jazeera English Bureau Chief Mohamed Fahmy was roaring in an Egyptian court: "I want to defend myself, but I don't know how!" He was later handed a seven-year prison sentence, and several of his colleagues also received jail time, in a sham trial.
The Committee to Protect Journalists joined 25 human rights and civil society groups today in signing an open letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is due to address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday about steps toward an open and effective relationship with the United Nations Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.
Today, CPJ joined 10 local and international organizations in sending an open letter calling on King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the Bahraini government to release photojournalist Ahmed Humaidan and dismiss all charges against him. The letter calls on the government to fulfill Bahrain's obligations under international law and its commitments under the 2012 Universal Periodic Review by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy has been languishing in an Egyptian prison since December. He is waiting for an appeal hearing on his seven-year sentence for "conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood," but it is the murder of American freelancer James Foley, rather than his own unjust sentence, that has made the Cairo bureau chief furious. Fahmy sees the solidarity in response to Foley's killing as an opportunity to gain global support for distressed journalists in Egypt.
Jordan's press freedom climate, once a shining light in the Middle East, has quickly deteriorated as journalists grapple with last year's government ban on nearly 300 news websites.
Press freedom groups are documenting a rise in self-censorship and an increase in criminal cases against journalists. Local online news editors and journalists are complaining of economic hardship and psychological pressure.
On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed its concerns over the press freedom climate in Iraqi Kurdistan at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. where we launched our special report, "Mountain of impunity looms over Kurdistan journalists." You can watch a video of the press conference here.
CPJ joined 26 other human rights and civil society groups on Wednesday in an open letter calling on the member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The public letter also urged the members to participate in the March 17 Interactive Dialogue with the special rapporteur and to express concern over the severe violations of human rights, including anti-press abuses, in Iran.
Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined other leading international media freedom and human rights organizations, including Article 19, Index on Censorship, and Reporters Without Borders, in calling on the European Union and United States to demand Egyptian authorities drop charges against Al-Jazeera journalists and release those under arrest.
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