The apparent back-to-back murders of two American freelance journalists by the same group are unprecedented in CPJ's history. The beheadings on camera in a two-week period of first James Foley and then Steven Sotloff appear to be an acceleration of a pattern--dating at least to Daniel Pearl's killing in 2002--of criminal and insurgent groups displaying the murders of journalists to send a broad message of terror.
Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists in collaboration with local media organizations launched a journalist security guide and protocol designed specifically for the Kenyan press. The initiative stems from research conducted in 2013 by the same group of organizations, the Kenya Media Working Group, in light of acute and unique security challenges for the Kenyan press coming to light that year.
Four years ago, when CPJ launched its Internet Advocacy program, we were met with lots of encouragement, but also some skepticism.
"Why do you need a program to defend the Internet?" one supporter asked. "You don't have a special program to defend television, or radio, or newspapers."
But the Internet is different. Increasingly, when it comes to global news and information the Internet is not a platform. It is the platform.
Naqibullah, the Afghan police commander who killed The Associated Press' Anja Niedringhaus, has been given a death sentence after being convicted of murder and treason. He was also given a four- year sentence for shooting the AP's Kathy Gannon. Naqibullah (who goes by one name, as many Afghans do) opened fire at near-point-blank range on the AP photographer/reporter team in the southeastern city of Khost on April 4, 2014, as they were covering preparations for the first round of voting in Afghanistan's still-contested presidential elections. Wednesday's conviction and sentencing were the first steps along the legal path to a final conviction and sentence, which might not come for years.
The U.N. Human Rights Council was established in 2006 as a replacement for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which folded in the face of criticism that it gave a platform to many states with poor human rights records. Only time will tell if the U.N. Human Rights Council will be any better. Nevertheless, this week, thanks in no small party to nations led by Austria, the U.N. body meeting for the 26th human rights sessions in Geneva, will hear on Wednesday a high-level panel on journalist safety and related issues.
Journalists who use the popular encryption tool TrueCrypt can relax. There is no evidence of any new or dangerous vulnerability in TrueCrypt, despite a recent scare over its integrity.
Amid a tense presidential election, Kenyans have avoided a repeat of the deadly violence that followed the vote in 2007, when half a million people were uprooted and more than 1,000 people were killed. Still, the situation today is fraught. Ethnic identity dominates the nation's political divisions--and those same loyalties can undermine solidarity in the press corps.
At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals and paramilitaries. And at any given time, a small handful of these cases--sometimes one or two, sometimes more--have been purposely kept out of the news media. That is true today.
Election-related violence is a worry for journalists in many countries, but perhaps nowhere more so than Kenya, where presidential polls will be held March 4. In the aftermath of the nation's last presidential elections in 2007, over one thousand people were killed in ethnic and political violence, live news broadcasts were banned, and the press faced a torrent of threats, leading to widespread self-censorship. Already, in recent weeks, some journalists have been harassed and their equipment confiscated, while media houses have been threatened in relation to coverage.
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