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A UN Human Rights Council side event on slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 27, 2019. Panelists from left to right: Yahya Assiri, director of the U.K.-based Saudi human rights organization Al-Qst; CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney; David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Barbora Bukovská, Article 19’s senior director for law and policy; Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt who is also the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s special rapporteur tasked with looking into the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. (Right Livelihood Award)

A blow to transparency of the US government: SCOTUS imposes new limits on government records requests

June 28, 2019 8:06 AM ET

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

Earlier this month, journalists, digital rights activists, and tech companies gathered in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, for RightsCon and the International Federation of Journalists congress. A CPJ mission in the country found that while Tunisia has greater press freedom compared with other countries in the region, challenges including funding, transparency, and government pressure remain.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday means the U.S. Agriculture Department could block the release of documents, which has serious implications for the scope of documents that are exempt from public disclosure.

In Egypt, al-Tahrir newspaper is threatened by insolvency as its website remains blocked. At least 103 news websites have been blocked in Egypt since May 2017, according to the Egyptian rights group Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.

CPJ participated in the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week. CPJ representatives met with country delegations, spoke on two panels--"Freedom of Expression in Cuba" and "Justice For Khashoggi,"--and co-sponsored a panel to highlight the release of the UN Special Rapporteur's report on human rights and surveillance.

Global press freedom updates

  • Syrian photojournalist Amjad Hassan Bakir was killed in a suspected regime missile strike in Idlib on June 18; separately, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militant group has detained Syrian journalist Maan Bakour since June 14
  • In Venezuela, the Bolivarian National Guard has blocked journalists from accessing the National Assembly during debates and activities for more than a month
  • In Myanmar, the Ministry of Transport and Communications directed mobile phone operators to temporarily suspend internet services in Rakhine and Chin states on June 21 amid an escalation in fighting between the Arakan Army insurgent group and government forces
  • Last week, CPJ urged Tanzanian lawmakers to revise a set of proposed legislative amendments, some of which could pose undue restrictions on freedom of expression
  • Press freedom in Albania is deteriorating, according to CPJ and six other international press freedom and freedom of expression organizations that traveled there on a reporting mission. The coalition met with journalists, civil society representatives, and senior government officials, including Prime Minister Edi Rama
  • Read more in-depth reporting here


The Global Conference for Media Freedom will bring together policymakers, journalists, and civil society organizations working to defend media freedom and improve the safety of journalists. (Graphic: U.K. Foreign Office)

On the eve of the Global Conference for Media Freedom sponsored by the U.K. and Canada, CPJ representatives will be in London July 8-12 to highlight threats to journalists and global attacks on press freedom from democratic and authoritarian countries alike.

CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch will deliver the annual St. Bride's Church Tom Olsen Lecture on "'Enemies of the People' -- The Global Assault on Journalists and Press Freedom," on July 8. CPJ will also lead a conversation on "The Last Column," a CPJ campaign that highlights the human cost of reporting, with journalist and author Lindsey Hilsum at the Frontline Club on July 9.

Find out more here.

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