News from the Committee to Protect Journalists, January 2013
CPJ assists record number of journalists in 2012
CPJ’s Journalist Assistance program provided support to a record number of journalists in 2012. The organization assisted at least 195 reporters, editors, and photographers from across the globe with legal, financial, medical, exile, and family support.
Journalists from East Africa continued to be some of the most vulnerable, according to CPJ research. Almost half of the cases supported by CPJ worldwide came from Somalia, which topped the list with 55 journalists who received assistance. Twelve journalists were killed in 2012 in Somalia, all of them in targeted murders, CPJ research shows. No journalist murders have been prosecuted in the country since 1992.
Click here to find out more about CPJ’s Journalist Assistance program.
Improved conditions for jailed IPFA award winner
CPJ has worked hard to publicize the case of Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan journalist who was imprisoned in China in 2008 for shooting a film that portrayed life in Tibet. After years of living in a labor camp in eastern Tibet, Wangchen was moved this month to a women’s prison, where conditions are not as harsh, according to his friends and colleagues at the Switzerland-based group Filming for Tibet.
Wangchen’s whereabouts were unknown for several months in 2008. News of his detention emerged only after a monk who had helped him shoot the film was released from prison. Wangchen’s family was never told of the charges against him.
CPJ honored Wangchen with its 2012 International Press Freedom Award, an annual recognition of courageous reporting. After Wangchen was transferred to the women’s prison, a visitor was finally able to tell him that he had received the award.
In December, CPJ also sent a petition, with almost 15,000 signatures, to the Chinese government, seeking the journalist’s release. Copies of the document, as well as photos and videos from the award ceremony, were also sent to the prison where Wangchen was jailed at the time.
CPJ welcomes conviction in Gongadze case
Ukrainian authorities convicted a former high-ranking police official in the 2000 murder of Georgy Gongadze, founder and editor of the news website Ukrainska Pravda. Gongadze was the first online journalist worldwide to be murdered for his work, according to CPJ research.
On January 29, former police Gen. Aleksei Pukach was sentenced to life in prison in connection with Gongadze’s murder. Three former police officers were convicted and sentenced to prison in March 2008. CPJ hailed the conviction as a milestone toward justice, but insisted that the masterminds of the crime be identified and held responsible.
Nepal takes steps toward journalist security, fighting impunity
The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC) will establish a formal mechanism to ensure the protection and safety of journalists. The decision followed a 2012 mission to Nepal, in which international human rights and press freedom organizations including CPJ met with high-level government officials, members of civil society groups, and family members of killed journalists. After the mission, the organizations submitted recommendations to the government.
The NHRC is discussing progress and implementation plans with international partners. The NHRC also said the plan would include representatives from various government bodies and would build on the U.N. Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The Plan had identified Nepal as one of the first countries for its implementation.
Nepal ranks sixth on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.
Yahoo secures online email
Yahoo decided to implement “https,” or secure sockets layer encryption, in Yahoo Mail, a function that would protect its users from spyware. Yahoo’s chief executive announced on Twitter that the decision was influenced by public pressure.
CPJ and other international press freedom and human rights groups have for years urged Yahoo to take this step, one that could prevent individuals from accessing sensitive data, such as a user’s email, chat conversations, or search items. The encryption can also protect reporters who are vulnerable to attacks. CPJ research shows that the 10 most oppressive countries frequently use online spyware and malware to censor the press.
CPJ provides support to threatened journalist
Brazilian investigative reporter Mauri König was forced into hiding with his family after he received death threats related to his reports on police corruption late last year. CPJ helped König get to a safe house outside the country, where he was able to stay for several weeks in December and January. The organization also provided him with funds to cover the cost of rent and additional expenses.
CPJ honored König with an International Press Freedom Award in 2012 for his courageous reporting on human rights abuses and corruption.
CPJ’s Distress Fund provides emergency grants to journalists facing persecution for their work. Support our work and make a gift today.