Letters   |   Ethiopia

CPJ urges Ethiopia's Zenawi to pursue press reforms

Mr. Prime Minister: We are writing to draw your attention to conditions that undermine press freedom as guaranteed in Article 29 of the Ethiopian Constitution. We would welcome your leadership in furthering reform by working for the repeal of draconian provisions in recent antiterrorism and media legislation.

February 16, 2010 4:43 PM ET


Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2009: Preface

In Tehran, journalists faced vague antistate accusations during mass, televised judicial proceedings. (AP) By Fareed Zakaria

Toward the end of his 118-day ordeal inside Tehran’s Evin prison, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari had a bizarre exchange with his interrogator. Bahari had been held in solitary confinement since his arrest after Iran’s disputed presidential election in June; he had been subjected to near-daily beatings and interrogation sessions that stretched for hours. But his jailers had not been able to prove their accusation that Bahari was a spy for Western intelligence agencies. So they had an ominous-sounding new charge to levy against him: “media espionage.”

February 16, 2010 12:58 AM ET


Attacks on the Press

Attacks on the Press 2009: Introduction

By Joel Simon

Does “name and shame” still work in the Internet age? After all, the massacre of 31 journalists and media workers in the Philippines pushed the 2009 media death toll to the highest level ever recorded by CPJ. The number of journalists in prison also rose, fueled by the fierce crackdown in Iran.
February 16, 2010 12:58 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Rwanda, Somalia, Zimbabwe

In African hot spots, journalists forced into exile

Al-Shabaab militants patrol Mogadishu's Bakara Market, home to several media outlets. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)By Tom Rhodes

High numbers of local journalists have fled several African countries in recent years after being assaulted, threatened, or imprisoned, leaving a deep void in professional reporting. The starkest examples are in the Horn of Africa nations of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, where dozens of journalists have been forced into exile. Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and the Gambia have also lost large segments of the local press corps in the face of intimidation and violence.

Attacks on the Press   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

Attacks on the Press 2009: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Top Developments
• RFI removed from FM frequencies; other stations censored.
• Hundreds march in nine provinces to protest ongoing threats, violence.

Key Statistic
3: Female journalists threatened with “a bullet to the head” after focusing their work on women’s issues.

Authorities censored coverage of armed conflict and human rights violations in the mineral-rich eastern Kivu provinces. Insecurity reigned in the volatile region, despite the presence of the world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping force. Tens of thousands of people continued to die every month from conflict, disease, and famine, while human rights groups detailed pervasive rape and sexual violence. The vast Central African nation remained among the region’s riskiest for journalists three years after it transitioned to democracy in historic U.N.-backed elections. Throughout the country, officials harassed and obstructed journalists who criticized local officials.

February 16, 2010 12:40 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Ethiopia

Top Developments
• Terrorism law criminalizes coverage of sensitive topics.
• Broadcasting Authority serves as government censor.

Key Statistic
4: Journalists jailed as of December 1, 2009.

Ahead of national elections scheduled for May 2010, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) further curtailed the limited freedom of the country’s small number of independent newspapers. The government enacted harsh legislation that criminalized coverage of vaguely defined “terrorist” activities, and used administrative restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and imprisonments to induce self-censorship. In all, four reporters and editors were being held when CPJ conducted its annual census of imprisoned journalists on December 1.

February 16, 2010 12:37 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Gambia

Attacks on the Press 2009: Gambia

Top Developments
•  Hydara murder unsolved; secrecy surrounds Manneh detention.
•  Domestic, international pressure prompts Jammeh to halt crackdown.

Key Statistic
6: Journalists jailed for sedition after saying president’s remarks on Hydara case were insensitive.

Authorities jailed six journalists after their publications said President Yahya Jammeh had been insensitive in televised remarks about the unsolved 2004 murder of prominent Gambian editor Deyda Hydara. The six, convicted in August on baseless charges of sedition, were sentenced to two years in prison but were freed in September after Jammeh, facing considerable domestic and international pressure, issued pardons.

February 16, 2010 12:36 AM ET


Attacks on the Press   |   Madagascar

Attacks on the Press 2009: Madagascar

Top Developments
• Rival leaders use media empires to pursue political goals.
• Partisan attacks target journalists, news outlets.

Key Statistic
1: Journalist killed in 2009, the first Malagasy media fatality ever recorded by CPJ.

Malagasy journalists faced censorship, threats, and arrest as former president Marc Ravalomanana and new head of state Andry Rajoelina used their partisan media empires in a struggle for control of this Indian Ocean island nation. One journalist was killed in the midst of violent unrest.

February 16, 2010 12:28 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Niger

Attacks on the Press 2009: Niger

Top Developments
• Tandja tightens grip on power, media through constitutional changes.
• Journalists reporting on corruption face government reprisals.

Key Statistic
3: Years beyond his elected term that Tandja can serve, according to a constitutional change.

In an audacious bid to maintain power, President Mamadou Tandja pushed through constitutional amendments repealing presidential term limits and tightening his control of the state media regulatory agency. Facing heavy criticism in the run-up to an August referendum on the constitutional changes, the Tandja administration silenced dissent by imprisoning critics, intimidating news media, and issuing an emergency decree dissolving both the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court. Official results showed that the amendments passed with 92 percent approval, but opposition politicians and their supporters had boycotted the vote, which they called a mockery of the constitution.

February 16, 2010 12:23 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Nigeria

Attacks on the Press 2009: Nigeria

Top Developments
• Local operatives of the ruling PDP assault journalists with impunity.
• Editor slain at his home outside Lagos. Wife pledges to continue his work.

Key Statistic
21: National dailies, a number reflecting Nigeria’s robust media climate.

With 21 national dailies, 12 television stations, and several emerging online news sources, Nigeria continued to boast one of the most vibrant news media cultures on the continent. But a series of attacks fanned fears in the press corps and prompted self-censorship.

February 16, 2010 12:22 AM ET



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