Organized crime capos and corrupt politicians have been getting away with murdering journalists in Mexico for so long that there isn't a reliable count on the number of the dead or a useful way to measure the crushing effects on a democracy when a country's press is afraid to tell the truth. CPJ research shows that, of 69 journalists killed since 1994 in Mexico, 28 were clearly killed because of their work, and nearly all of those directly targeted for murder. But the killing started years before that, the numbers are not dependable, and the motives are often unknown, because the professionalism of the investigations is doubtful. Mexico's state governments have simply failed to find those responsible, and journalists working outside of the capital have for the most part decided their only protection is to not cover stories the killers don't want covered.
Some years back during a visit to the Gambia--the West African nation ruled by a thin-skinned and mercurial president, Yahya Jammeh--I holed up in the sweltering Interior Ministry and pressed officials to release imprisoned journalists and ease up on the country's brutal media crackdown. The officials resisted, arguing that the press in Gambia was "reckless and irresponsible," that it made unfounded accusations, published falsehoods, and destroyed people's lives, and therefore the government had no choice but to step in and impose order and regulation.
In a welcome move Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah offered to shelve Kuwait's controversial draft media law, according to news reports. The announcement came in what the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) called a "candid, frank, and expanded meeting with chief editors of Kuwaiti press."
On April 8, the Kuwaiti cabinet approved a draft media law that would severely undermine press freedom in the country. But it is not too late to prevent a bad bill from becoming a bad law.
The long-awaited reform of libel laws in the United Kingdom skirted with collapse this week due to political infighting in the aftermath of the Leveson report on media ethics--the public inquiry that resulted from the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal. With that disaster narrowly averted, attention has turned to what may turn out to be a very British solution to the question of how to shape the post-Leveson world.
Turkmenistan is trying to burnish its image by passing its first law on press freedom. On January 4th, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed a law that bans press censorship, bars the government from monopolizing news outlets, and grants the public access to all forms of information, including independent and foreign reporting.
Unfortunately, reform appears to be only posturing and the most repressive and hermetic country in Eurasia remains just that.
The Hungarian press law is again drawing fire from the European Union; the amendments adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on May 24 have not placated Brussels.
New York, May 15, 2012--Yemen's Press and Publications Court must drop charges against two Al-Jazeera journalists for their coverage of last year's uprising, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also urged the Cabinet not to revive a restrictive Audio-Visual and Electronic Media bill that has been pending in Parliament since 2010.