Mission Journal

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Blog   |   South Africa

Mission Journal: Secrets bill spurs South African press

A protest against pending state secrets legislation in South Africa. (Chris Yelland)

Irrespective of whether South Africa actually implements the most draconian parts of state secrets legislation now under consideration, the media in the continent's most open democracy already feel under threat. The prospect of 25-year jail sentences for journalists publishing "classified" information has galvanized disparate news outlets and journalists groups to work together like never before. 

Blog   |   South Sudan

Mission Journal: South Sudan's struggle for a free press

In the first months of an independent South Sudan, the press is feeling its way. (AP)

The former guerrillas of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) fought a 22-year civil war for greater autonomy and civil rights for the southern Sudanese people, culminating in South Sudan's independence this July. But local journalists fear the former rebels turned government officials still harbor a war mentality that is unaccustomed to criticism, and that they are not prepared to extend the freedoms they fought hard to attain. "We are still recovering from a war culture," Oliver Modi, chairman of the Union of Journalists of Southern Sudan, told me. "There is just too much ignorance toward the press. We are not used to systems, structures--even the media," he said, pointing to a list of eight documented cases of attacks against the press this year.

September 8, 2011 1:44 PM ET

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Blog   |   Ecuador

In Ecuador, CPJ highlights press freedom decline

Lauría in Ecuador. (Fundamedios)

The turning point in President Rafael Correa's aggressive campaign against the private media, Ecuadoran journalists say, came in July with the criminal defamation convictions of four managers of the Guayaquil-based daily El Universo. Bad went to worse when the paper's former opinion editor and three of its executives were sentenced to jail and fined, along with their newspaper, a total of $40 million over a piece that called the president a "dictator." Emilio Palacio, who wrote the critical op-ed that infuriated Correa and motivated the lawsuit, fled the country last week after saying that he is being persecuted and justice will not be served. 

September 2, 2011 7:15 PM ET

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Blog   |   Turkey

Mission Journal: Media under growing pressure in Turkey

While there is a surfeit of media in Turkey, outlets are prey to government pressure. (Reuters)

Turkey is awash in media. The newsstands of Istanbul are buried under some 35 dailies of every format and political stripe. The airwaves are thick with TV channels and Internet penetration is tracking an economy growing at Chinese speed. Yet quantity does not equal quality. Nor does the array of titles mean diversity and freedom of expression is blossoming in a country that is seeking to join the European Union. 

Blog   |   Russia

Estemirova investigation on wrong track, colleagues say

A memorial to Estemirova. (CPJ)

Two years ago, as she was leaving home on a hot Wednesday morning in Grozny, several attackers forced Natalya Estemirova, the prominent journalist and human rights defender, into a car. A young witness--who later fled for fear of reprisal--recalled that Estemirova cried out she was being kidnapped and that a white Lada sedan then sped off. Estemirova's body was found a few hours later, ditched along a road near the village of Gazi-Yurt in neighboring Ingushetia. 

Blog   |   CPJ, Journalist Assistance, Russia

Beketov back on his feet, and a long road awaits

A fighter regains his footing, but his voice is stilled. (CPJ/Nina Ognianova)

Mikhail Beketov can walk now--using an artificial leg and propping himself on crutches. He's moving around his house in the Moscow suburb of Khimki. It was here, in his front yard, where the newspaper editor was attacked two years and seven months ago. It was in this yard where assailants left him for dead. The fact that Beketov can stand on his own again is testament to the sheer strength of the man, whom friends describe as a born fighter. He could be obstinate, they say, and that's why he would never turn away from what he believes in.

June 26, 2011 8:11 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Germany, Security

Subjectivity, advocacy in covering human rights

The tension between objective news reporting and advocacy was the subject of the final plenary panel that I moderated last week at the Global Media Forum in Bonn. Sponsored by Germany's multi-language, government broadcast agency, Deutsche Welle, the three-day conference brought together journalists and experts from every continent to address but not necessarily resolve the media's role in covering human rights abuses.

Blog   |   Senegal

Mission Journal: Politics influence justice in Senegal

President Wade protected a protege accused of orchestrating anti-press attacks. (AFP/Filippo Montegorte)
Senegalese journalists say justice is not on their side when they are victims of abuse by powerful officials or security forces. I met recently in Dakar with journalists targeted with criminal acts in apparent reprisal for their work. In these two high-profile cases, CPJ has found evidence of political influence on the judiciary.

Blog   |   Pakistan

Mission Journal: CPJ tackles impunity in Pakistan

After months of planning and preparation, our CPJ team had assembled in Islamabad with an ambitious plan. On May 3, we had a meeting scheduled with President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss the country's failure to investigate the killings of journalists. We also had positive indications that our delegation would be able to meet with military officials and possibly even representatives from the Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, the country's all-powerful spy agency.

May 6, 2011 1:46 PM ET

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Blog   |   Peru

Peru candidates pledge to respect press freedom--will they?

A worker inspects ballots with images of presidential candidates in Peru. Keiko Fujimori will face Ollanta Humala in a presidential runoff on June 5. (AP/Martin Mejia)

Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala, the two candidates for the June 5 presidential runoff in Peru, barely raised freedom of expression issues during the political campaign. So Friday's event organized by the regional press group Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) in Lima provided a great opportunity to measure their commitment on press freedom, especially important for candidates with questionable democratic credentials.  

May 6, 2011 11:05 AM ET

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