CPJ Update

CPJ Update
January 14, 2005
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

Covering a tragedy
Significant humanitarian and journalistic challenges have emerged in the aftermath of the December tsunami that devastated south Asia, claiming 110,000 lives in Indonesia alone.

The Indonesian government has imposed restrictions on journalists trying to cover the hardest-hit area, the province of Aceh. Officials say that foreign journalists and aid workers must report their movements and seek military accompaniment when traveling outside of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, or the town of Meulaboh.

The rules mean a return, in part, to the severe restrictions that have limited coverage of the ongoing civil conflict in Aceh. “Unrestricted access to information is absolutely crucial during this relief effort,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said in statement we issued Thursday. “The world has been moved by Aceh’s terrible plight and has a deep interest in keeping abreast of the assistance efforts.”

We are seeking a meeting with the country’s U.S. ambassador in an effort to overturn these deeply troubling limitations. Following on a news alert we issued this week describing the new restrictions, we are sending a letter today to Indonesian officials.

To read our news alert: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Indonesia13jan05na.html

To read our letter to Ambassador Soemadi D.M. Brotodiningrat: http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Indonesia14jan05pl.html

And helping our colleagues
In Banda Aceh, the victims included many journalists who have reported courageously for years amid the violent civil war. Dozens of staff members of Serambi Indonesia, Aceh’s only daily newspaper, are missing or dead.

The paper, widely praised for its coverage of the region’s separatist rebellion, has been menaced by both rebels and government security forces. The staff’s commitment was demonstrated yet again in early January: Despite the tragedy and its terrible toll on the staff, Serambi Indonesia published a special edition with the help of colleagues in Lhokseumawe, Aceh’s second-largest city.

CPJ has started a fund to aid Indonesian journalists and their families. All donations will be sent directly to journalists and press organizations in Indonesia. To donate, contact Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ’s journalist assistance coordinator, at [email protected].

Murder top cause of work deaths
Even in a year dominated by war, murder is still the leading cause of work-related deaths for journalists worldwide, our annual analysis has found. Thirty-six of the 56 journalists who died in the line of duty in 2004 were murdered, continuing a long-term trend documented by CPJ. And once again, most of the journalists killed around the world were local reporters, photographers, editors, and camera operators covering events in their own countries. Nine of the 56 journalists killed were foreign correspondents. One, Paul Klebnikov of Forbes Russia, was American.

In Iraq, where crossfire was the leading cause of death among journalists, at least nine of the 23 journalists killed were deliberately targeted.

As we reported in December, the 2004 death toll is the highest in a decade. The deadliest year for journalists since CPJ began compiling detailed statistics was 1994, when 66 journalists were killed, mostly in Algeria, Rwanda, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

To read more: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/USA03jan05na.html

New year, new attacks
Two weeks into the New Year, we have documented several serious attacks on the press:

In Colombia, gunmen killed a veteran radio host on January 11 in the city of Cúcuta. We are investigating the murder to determine whether it was related to his journalism. Colombia has long been a dangerous place for journalists, although in 2004 no journalist was killed for his or her work in Colombia for the first time in at least a decade.
To read more: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Colombia11jan05na.html

French journalist Florence Aubenas and her translator are believed to have been kidnapped in Iraq, President Ghazi al-Yawar said this week. The two, who went missing on January 5, would be the first members of the press to be kidnapped in Iraq in 2005. Twenty-two journalists were abducted in the country last year, when CPJ named Iraq the world’s most dangerous place for journalists. We continue to investigate Aubenas’ disappearance.
To read our original report on their disappearance: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/iraq10jan05na.html

The government of Zimbabwe continues to clamp down on the press. On January 10, President Robert Mugabe signed into law a measure that sets prison terms of up to two years for any journalist found working without government accreditation. Mugabe’s government has passed several restrictive laws aimed at stifling Zimbabwe’s ever-dwindling independent press corps.
To read more: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/zimbabwe10jan05na.html

A Palestinian cameraman was shot in Gaza on January 2, allegedly by Israeli Defense Forces. Majdi al-Arabid, on assignment for Israel’s Channel 10 TV, was shot in the stomach near Beit Lahia while reporting on IDF operations against Palestinians suspected of firing rockets into Israel. The IDF says it is investigating the shooting. But Channel 10 reporter Sholmi Eldar, a witness who was filming at the time, says the army had not yet contacted him about his footage. At least seven journalists have been killed in the Occupied Territories since 2000, all by Israeli gunfire. Few if any of these cases have been seriously investigated or publicly accounted for.
To read CPJ’s letter to the IDF: http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Israel05jan05pl.html

Development news
CPJ closed out the calendar year on a high note, receiving its final $500,000 payment of the Knight Foundation’s $2.5 million challenge grant which was the lead gift for CPJ’s endowment campaign.