News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, November 2012
Journalists honored at IPFA
Thanks to David Boies, chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, who chaired CPJ’s 2012 International Press Freedom Awards dinner on November 20, the organization raised a record-breaking $1.57 million to support persecuted journalists.
The nearly 900 distinguished guests at the event also pledged support for CPJ’s Campaign Against Impunity during a special appeal that raised more than $100,000. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has generously pledged to match two-to-one $100,000 of the funds.
The event, held at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, was hosted by CPJ board member and PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill. The ceremony paid tribute to the reporting of Mauri König (Gazeto do Pozo, Brazil), Mae Azango, (New Narratives and FrontPage Africa, Liberia) as well as jailed journalists Dhondup Wangchen (Filming for Tibet, imprisoned in China) and Azimjon Askarov (Ferghana News, Kyrgyzstan), who were awarded in absentia. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, was awarded the Burton Benjamin Award for his lifetime commitment to press freedom.
CPJ premieres new campaign
Guests at CPJ’s International Press Freedom Awards dinner on November 20 were treated to an exclusive preview of CPJ’s new campaign, Speak Justice: Voices Against Impunity, which launches officially on December 6. More than 100 guests have already signed up to become e-advocates for the campaign.
Participation in this campaign allows advocates the opportunity to help break the cycle of impunity by demanding justice for murdered journalists. More than 660 journalists have been murdered since 1992 around the world, and in 90 percent of the cases, no perpetrators have been brought to justice. This silencing message fosters self-censorship and weakens the ability of the press to hold governments to account.
The campaign is powered by CPJ in collaboration with global and local partner organizations as well as concerned individuals. Speak Justice is underwritten by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and supported by individual donations from people like you.
Our dedicated website, www.speakjusticenow.org, will feature interactive maps and an infographic video showing that journalists murdered around the world were primarily covering politics, corruption, conflict, crime, and human rights–all issues of vital concern to any citizen. Check out the website, sign up for updates, and lend your voice by becoming an e-advocate today.
A global appeal for jailed journalists
Two online petitions by CPJ calling for the release of two jailed journalists, both 2012 press freedom award winners, have attracted more than 11,000 signatures. Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan journalist imprisoned in China, and Azimjon Askarov, a Kyrgyz journalist serving a life term, were both unable to receive their awards at the dinner this year.
CPJ will present the petitions to the Kyrgyz and Chinese governments on December 10, along with the message that journalists around the world should not be silenced or subject to reprisal. Click here to add your name to the Wangchen petition, and here for the Askarov petition.
CPJ will continue to advocate for Wangchen and Askarov’s release until they are free and able to receive their awards in person.
CPJ delegation meets Turkish official
A second CPJ delegation met with Turkish officials this month to push them to review the cases of jailed journalists in the country. The meeting followed a special report issued by CPJ in October that included a case-by-case review of imprisoned Turkish journalists.
CPJ board member Kati Marton led the discussion with Sadullah Ergin, Turkey’s minister of justice. Marton noted in a subsequent CPJ blog that the closest Ergin came to admitting that Turkey had a press freedom problem was saying that a reform of the anti-terror law due at the end of this year would improve the climate for journalists.
Otherwise, Marton said, “For one and a half hours, [Ergin] stubbornly disputed our report on his country’s jailed journalists.” The official also refused to address specific cases of jailed journalists, instead saying that Turkish reporters were “terrorists in disguise,” she said.
CPJ’s report has been featured widely in Turkish and international media. The overall response, though mostly positive, has also sparked public debate, which CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon addressed in a blog post last month. In CPJ’s first delegation to the country, representatives met with prominent journalists, including investigative reporters Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, and gave several interviews to local and international media.
Weighing in on Sri Lanka’s anti-press climate
CPJ joined other press freedom and human rights groups in submitting a report on the deteriorating media environment in Sri Lanka to the 12th session of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review.
The report, which included research and recommendations, was reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on November 1 and found that the climate in Sri Lanka was hostile and detrimental to Sri Lankans’ right to information. The report also highlighted the free press recommendations submitted by key press freedom groups, which had largely been ignored by the government.
CPJ also contributed to an online campaign designed to spread awareness about the crackdown on the Sri Lankan press. Using the hashtags #UPR14 or #UPRLKA, local and international free press and human rights organizations generated a mass conversation on Twitter, which was then archived by the citizen journalism website Groundviews.
CPJ continues to monitor the deteriorating press freedom climate in Sri Lanka and to pressure the government to comply with international standards of press freedom.
CPJ lends voice to journalist safety
At a meeting in Vienna this month, CPJ joined other press freedom organizations and leading journalists in an effort to define an implementation plan for a highly anticipated U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists.
CPJ helped make specific recommendations to ensure the plan would be more effective and would address impunity in the killing of journalists along with journalist safety. CPJ and other groups had called on U.N. member states to provide a safe environment for journalists in an October statement to UNESCO.
Look for our annual reports on journalists who have been imprisoned or killed this year around the world. The reports will be out in early December.
What happens to an Afghan journalist who is forced to flee his country because he can no longer work due to the threats he has received? And who helps when he has no resources or language skills and needs to gain asylum in another country? CPJ’s Distress Fund provides emergency grants to journalists facing persecution for their work. Support our work and give a gift today.