CPJ Update

CPJ Update
October 17, 2005
News from the Committee to Protect Journalists

International Press Freedom Awardees named
We’re proud to honor four people who have defended press freedom with courage and distinction with our 15th Annual International Press Freedom Awards. The awards will be presented at a ceremony at Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria on Tuesday, November 22. Our awardees include journalists from Brazil and Uzbekistan, an imprisoned writer from China, and a prominent press lawyer from Zimbabwe. We’ll also pay tribute to our late colleague Peter Jennings, whoseextraordinary career is beingrecognized with our 2005 Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement.

Our award winners are: Galima Bukharbaeva, of Uzbekistan, a former correspondent for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, who angered authorities and risked her life covering government repression; Beatrice Mtetwa, a Zimbabwean lawyer,who has been arrested, beaten and harassed for defending the press; Lúcio Flávio Pinto, of Brazil, a publisher and editor who reports on drug trafficking, environmental issues, and corruption in the Amazon; and Shi Tao, of China, a newspaper editor and freelance journalist for Internet publications, whose writing led to a 10-year prison sentence.

To read more about our awardees: http://www.cpj.org/awards05/awards_release_05.html

From left: Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Shi Tao
(China), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Peter Jennings (Burton Benjamin Award)

CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves is chairman of the awards dinner. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, a CPJ board member, will be our host. For more information about the benefit, call Bill Butler or Maria D’Amato at 212-573-6933.

Chad diplomat pledges attention to violations
Mahamoud Adam Bechir, Chad’s ambassador to the United States, told a CPJ delegation that he would convey our deep concerns about press freedom violations to his country’s president, Idriss Déby

Clarence Page, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Julia Crawford, and CPJ Washington representative Frank Smyth expressed our concerns in an October 3 meeting in Washington, D.C. We urged Chadian officials to repeal the criminal charge of “defaming the president,” which has been used to jail several journalists in recent months. We also called for safeguards to ensure that laws criminalizing “incitement” not be misused to suppress critical reporting and commentary.

To read our news alert: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Chad03oct05na.html

Warner urges Pentagon to address press problems in Iraq
U.S. Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to address problems concerning journalist security and detentions in Iraq. Warner urged Pentagon leaders to meet with journalists in Iraq and the United States, including CPJ officials.

Warner’s comments, directed to Rumsfeld during a September 29 committee hearing, followed letters from CPJ and Reuters to the Pentagon. In a phone call to Warner on the eve of the hearing, CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger urgedthe committee to prod the Pentagon to address the ongoing concerns.

CPJ has cited three areas of deep concern: investigative failures in the killing of journalists by U.S. troops, ongoing insecurity at U.S. military checkpoints; and the long-term, unsubstantiated detentions of Iraqi journalists.

Journalist security “is an issue that we take very seriously,” Gen. George Casey, U.S. commander in Iraq, told the committee. Warner told reporters after the hearing that he discussed the issues with Rumsfeld and “he’s going to take it under immediate consideration.”

CPJ and other press groups have sent a follow-up letter to the Pentagon seeking a date for discussions. We’re waiting for a response.

To read our September 28 letter to Rumsfeld: http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Iraq28sept05pl.html

To read our news alert on the hearing: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Iraq29sept05na.html

To read a commentary by our executive director, Ann Cooper, on the detentions: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2005/DA_fall05/comment/comment_DA_fall05.html

To read our analysis on the military’s investigative failures: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/iraq14sept05na.html

To read a letter from CPJ and Human Rights Watch on checkpoint dangers: http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Checkpoint_Rumsfeld.html

CPJ urges caution amid China enthusiasm
Amid excitement over prospective Chinese investment in Latin America, CPJ’s Abi Wright tolda Miami Herald conference that there is much reason for caution.

Wright, our Asia program coordinator, was on a panel discussing China’s growing presence in Latin America. She pointed out the ethical problems that arise when news and communications companies do business with authoritarian governments that do not uphold international human rights standards within their countries. Wright highlighted the complicity of Internet giant Yahoo in providing Chinese authorities with information that led to the jailing of writer Shi Tao for 10 years.

‘Incitement’ laws used to suppress reporting
African governments often repress critical news reporting through the misuse of “incitement” laws, CPJ Deputy Director Joel Simon tolda conference on “International Criminal Tribunals in the 21st Century.”

Speaking at Washington’s American University on September 30, Simon said that governments improperly label critical reporting as “incitement to rebellion” or “incitement to hatred,” and then “either summarily shut down the offending media outlet or take legal action against the journalists.”

CPJ research has found 46 such cases since 2002.

Among those taking part in the conference were Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Institute, and Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Staff news
CPJ is pleased to announce that Elena Snyder has been promoted to associate director of development. In her new job, she’ll oversee all aspects of CPJ’s funding from foundations and corporations. Snyder joined CPJ in 2003 as assistant director of development.