A sad landmark for CPJ: 1,000 journalists killed
When Mick Deane was killed in Egypt on August 14, he became the 1,000th journalist documented by CPJ as having died in direct relation to his work. Some died in the crossfire of combat or civil unrest, but most were targeted for murder. In 1992, CPJ began keeping detailed accounts of journalist killings, which are preserved in our website database.
The Huffington Post marked the grim milestone by publishing a substantial piece profiling CPJ’s work. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon is cited as saying, “We’re able to use that data to draw some conclusions about how the threats to journalists are changing, and ultimately how violence is impeding the flow of information about the world at a time when it’s become increasingly crucial.”
Over time, about one journalist is killed every week, CPJ research shows. In addition to the 1,000 deaths we have confirmed as work-related, CPJ has documented the deaths of hundreds of other journalists who were killed in unclear circumstances. CPJ continues to investigate those deaths and advocate for efficient investigations that bring the journalist killers to justice.
In Brazil, journalist killer sentenced
A Brazilian court on August 6 sentenced João Francisco dos Santos to 27 years in prison for his role as the gunman in the October 19, 2010, murder of radio reporter Francisco Gomes de Medeiros. Authorities have yet to prosecute any masterminds in the killing.
Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, said, “Authorities must now ensure that all those involved in the crime–including the masterminds–are brought to justice in order to send a clear signal to those who wish to violently silence journalists that they will not go unpunished.”
CPJ has spent years reporting on the case and advocating for justice in Gomes’ murder. Brazil had dropped off CPJ’s Impunity Index in 2010, but was reintroduced to the list in 2011 because of Gomes’ murder and the subsequent lack of justice.
In 2012, CPJ collaborated with global and local partner organizations and launched a digital campaign, Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity, which fights impunity in press murders.
CPJ calls for probe into Miranda detention
On August 22, a U.K. court granted David Miranda a limited injunction to stop authorities from “inspecting, copying, or sharing” the data that police had seized while detaining and interrogating him for nine hours at Heathrow Airport on August 18. Miranda had been assisting his partner, Glenn Greenwald, a Guardian reporter, in his coverage of state surveillance.
CPJ issued a letter on August 20 to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the detention and harassment of Miranda. CPJ said, “The use of anti-terror laws to seize journalistic material from Miranda, partner and assistant to Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, is deeply troubling and not in keeping with the U.K’s historic commitment to press freedom.
Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger, who is a recipient of CPJ’s 2012 Burton Benjamin Memorial Award, sent a note thanking CPJ for its support. CPJ’s letter was reprinted by The Guardian and, at the request of the newspaper’s lawyer, CPJ forwarded the letter to the court where legal proceedings against Miranda’s detention were under way.
Report released amid challenging time for Egypt press
CPJ launched a special report, “On the Divide: Press Freedom at Risk in Egypt” on August 14, the first day of a week-long series of clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi that left nearly 1,000 dead and thousands injured.
The report chronicles how the Morsi administration and the current government have disappointed the high hopes for press freedom in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Since the report was released, at least three journalists have been killed, and many detained, attacked, or obstructed from reporting on the bloody events in Egypt. At least five news outlets that were shut down in early July remain closed.
The Atlantic Council in Washington hosted an event the day the report was launched, which was streamed live on C-SPAN and broadcast on C-SPAN TV. The report and CPJ’s expert analysis of developing press threats in Egypt has been quoted widely, and CPJ’s MENA Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour has done several interviews on the subject, including an appearance on CNN Reliable Sources.
Ahead of the launch, a CPJ delegation led by CPJ Board Member Clarence Page met with Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik to present the report’s recommendations and start a sustained engagement with the Egyptian government to deliver on public promises to introduce legal reforms in Egyptian law and upcoming constitutional amendments.
In new report, CPJ finds self-censorship in Tanzania
In August, CPJ released “The Invisible Plight of the Tanzanian Press,” a special report written by CPJ’s East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes that highlighted the deteriorating climate of press freedom in Tanzania. The report found that a rise in anti-press attacks set against a backdrop of repressive laws, and the long-term censorship of one critical publication, was sowing fear and self-censorship among local journalists.
The report, which was released a month after U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to East Africa, cited a spike in attacks and threats on Tanzanian journalists over the past year–CPJ has documented 10 in the past 11 months–including the killing of a veteran cameraman by a policeman while covering an opposition rally. No officer has yet been held accountable for the death.
The report also called into question the Tanzanian government’s international image as committed to transparency and democracy, highlighting that at least 17 repressive media-related statutes remain in place. Under these laws, one critical publication, MwanaHalisi, has been suspended indefinitely, a step that many journalists see as a message being sent to the entire press corps.
“Fear of closure is enough to keep us quiet,” said veteran journalist Tido Mhando, CEO of Mwananchi Communications, which publishes three private papers, according to the report.
Journalist released … in the United Arab Emirates
Egyptian journalist Anas Fouda was released from prison in the UAE on August 4 after being held without charge in solitary confinement for a month. Emirati authorities did not disclose Fouda’s health, whereabouts, or any charges against him.
Fouda is the editorial director for the MBC group, which includes the satellite channel Al-Arabiya, and is also a member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He writes a blog on Egyptian politics.
CPJ waited for nearly a month before going public about Fouda’s detention at the request of his wife, Abeya. The journalist had contacted CPJ before his detention and said he was concerned about his security. He told CPJ at the time that he believed he could be targeted because his writings supported the former Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt.
In an alert published on August 1, CPJ called on Egyptian authorities to seek Fouda’s release. The next day, Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian foreign minister, raised concern about Fouda’s case in a meeting with Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, according to news reports. On August 4, authorities released Fouda from jail, told him that his UAE residency was revoked, and escorted him to the airport, where he flew to Cairo.
Fouda told CPJ that he was grateful for the organization’s help in advocating for his release.
… in Uganda
Authorities on July 23 detained without charge a freelance documentary filmmaker who was jailed for filming a police protest in Kampala. On July 26, Taylor Krauss was escorted out of the country in what authorities called an “organized departure.”
CPJ’s Tom Rhodes intervened several times in the case, speaking to government officials, police, and human rights organizations to secure Krauss’ release and giving Krauss’ wife updated information on her husband’s situation.
“While Krauss is now safely back in the United States, his experience resonates a worrying trend journalists face in Uganda, whether local or foreign, whereupon coverage of the opposition is increasingly considered an illegal activity by authorities,” Rhodes said.
CPJ continues to develop a better understanding of the challenges and situation faced by the media in Uganda by undertaking missions, conducting interviews with journalists, media organizations, and related advocates.
“We are prepared to campaign in case the draconian draft 2010 amendments to the Journalist and Press Act are revived, and will also continue to assist journalists in distress from Uganda through the Journalist Assistance program,” Rhodes said.
Assisting a Somali journalist
CPJ’s Journalist Assistance Program helped provide funds to cover medical bills for a Somali journalist who was shot on July 17. Mascud Abdulahi, correspondent for Dalsan Radio in Kismayo, was wounded in the back and stomach in the attack, which was believed to be perpetrated by a government-affiliated militia.
Mascud was evacuated to Mogadishu for additional medical attention, Dalsan Radio Director Hassan Ali Gesey told CPJ. Once in Mogadishu, it became apparent that the journalist would need to be moved to Nairobi for more specialized treatment and surgery.
CPJ contributed a grant of US$2,000 toward Mascud’s medical bills and is working with non-governmental organizations to gather the remaining funds. CPJ continues to visit and monitor Mascud in Nairobi and may provide a second grant, depending on the journalist’s recovery and post-surgery needs. CPJ’s Tom Rhodes writes that Mascud’s recovery is “quite a miracle.”
Monitoring conditions in Zambia
Zambian journalist Wilson Pondamali was released from prison on July 31, 15 days after he had been jailed on accusation of writing for the Zambian Watchdog, a site that documents alleged government corruption. CPJ covered Pondamali’s case extensively and also documented government blocking of the Zambian Watchdog website.
CPJ’s outspokenness on the topic of press freedom in the Zambia led to a mention from the Zambian vice president in a newspaper interview.
Another website critical of the ruling party, Zambian Reports, resumed online publication after being blocked by the Zambian government for more than three weeks. CPJ’s consistent coverage of the censorship resulted in the Reports staff sending the organization a letter: “We want to thank CPJ for everything you have done–this would not be possible without international support. Knowing the determination of some of the people behind this censorship, this is a big win for press freedom.”
United States: In October, CPJ will release its first-ever comprehensive report on press freedom conditions in the United States. The report will be written by Leonard Downie Jr., journalism professor at Arizona State University and the former executive editor of The Washington Post.
CPJ’s Distress Fund provides emergency grants to journalists facing persecution for their work. Support our work and make a gift today.
Save the date
CPJ’s annual International Press Freedom Awards will be held on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Lara Logan will be hosting the event. Award winners will be announced soon. For tickets, please call CPJ’s Development Office at +1 (212) 465-1004, ext. 113.
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