A man casts his ballot in Giheta, central Burundi, on May 20, 2020. (AFP)

#KeepItOn, Burundi!

May 22, 2020 10:00 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.

Burundian authorities blocked social media access during the country’s presidential elections on Wednesday, despite the calls from CPJ and 30 partner organizations to #KeepItOn. Burundi’s media landscape has been deteriorating, with the recent detention of four journalists and bans on the BBC and Voice of America.

Jorge Miguel Armenta Ávalos, a Mexican journalist who had been under federal protection, was shot and killed on Saturday after he and other staff members of the El Tiempo de Medios Obson newspaper received numerous threats.

In Wuhan, China, journalist Zhang Zhan was arrested for covering COVID-19 and is now detained in Shanghai where, if convicted, she could face up to five years imprisonment.

Journalism in the time of coronavirus

Freelance photographer and videographer Zmnako Ismael (left) is seen covering the COVID-19 pandemic. (Zmnako Ismael)
  • Local journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan spoke to CPJ about the challenges of covering the pandemic. Separately, Kurdish security forces detained and seized the equipment of journalists covering a protest in the city of Duhok.
  • Swazi editor flees to South Africa, wanted for allegedly spreading false news about King Mswati III’s health amid COVID-19
  • South African police assault, charge journalist Paul Nthoba after photographing COVID-19 lockdown
  • At least six Algerian media websites censored after “false news” ban. All three recently covered the pandemic and anti-government protests


In the debut episode of the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s new YouTube series TC Talks, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon will join the foundation’s CEO Antonio Zappulla to discuss threats to press freedom during the coronavirus pandemic. The episode premieres May 27.

In a live Instagram discussion earlier this week, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said spoke about the challenges COVID-19 has created for imprisoned journalists observing Ramadan. Missed it? Follow us on Instagram and watch the conversation.

CPJ has partnered with the International Women’s Media Foundation on a survey assessing journalists’ experiences of online harassment during the pandemic. The deadline for responses is Monday, May 25.

What we are reading

Beyond the Pandemic

  • Last week, Brazilian journalist Leonardo Pinheiro was shot and killed in Araruama, in Rio de Janeiro state
  • Iranian journalist Nejat Bahrami began a one-year jail term on May 18
  • Nigerian authorities detained and interrogated journalist
  • Myanmar journalist Kyaw Linn attacked, threatened in Rakhine state
  • Cambodian journalist Sok Oudom detained on incitement charges
  • Protesters storm Baghdad office of Saudi broadcaster MBC
  • CPJ and partners push for reform of EU defamation law
  • CPJ joins call condemning threats against journalists in Northern Ireland

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