Press Freedom Facts 2002

A total of 20 journalists were killed for their work in 2002, including three journalists each in Colombia, Russia, and the West Bank. That is the lowest number on record since CPJ began tracking the killings in 1985. Most were local journalists, murdered with impunity.
Angered at the coverage of the murder trial of journalist Carlos Cardoso, which implicated her son, Mozambique’s first lady allegedly sent truckloads of chickens to the homes and offices of several journalists.
In the Philippines, warlord politics, official corruption, and a breakdown in the justice system have contributed to the fact that 39 journalists have been murdered since democracy was restored there in 1986. All of these cases remain officially unsolved.
Upset by a critical Wall Street Journal Europe article, Romania’s Defense Ministry sent a warning to several local newspapers that had republished the article. “Life is short,” the ministry warned, “and your health has too high a price to be endangered by debating highly emotional subjects.”
Eritrea is Africa’s foremost jailer of journalists. President Isaias Afewerki banned the entire independent press corps in September 2001, accusing them of “endangering national unity.” Eighteen journalists were imprisoned without charge. When a group of them began a hunger strike in March 2002 to protest their detention, authorities moved the journalists to unknown sites and have held them incommunicado ever since.
Three journalists in Tajikistan were conscripted into military service in retaliation for producing a talk show that criticized local military officials. After they were arrested and detained, military officials told them, “We’ll show you how to present us on television.”
In the run-up to China’s 16th Communist Party Congress in November, propaganda officials issued guidelines to reporters listing 32 topics that were forbidden or to be covered with extra caution. On the list of forbidden topics: “Chinese eating dogs that Westerners breed.” Among stories that must be reported with greater caution: “Reports on World Cup soccer,” “restrictions on negative news,” and “high-living consumer lifestyles.”
After the office of Respublika, a business weekly in Kazakhstan, was burned to the ground by Molotov cocktails, officials accused the paper’s editor of starting the fire herself to help boost the publication’s circulation.
In April, Israel Defense Forces arrested three Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and held them for nearly six months without charge.
A newscaster in Gabon was fired after stuttering through the name of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, of the neighboring Republic of Congo, on live radio. Sassou-Nguesso is married to the daughter of Gabon’s president.
In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Information forced Muhammad Mukhtar al-Fal, editor of the daily Al-Madina, to resign after he published a poem criticizing the country’s conservative judiciary as corrupt.
The June murder of TV Globo investigative reporter Tim Lopes rocked Brazil, illustrating the dangers that journalists in that country face when covering organized crime. Lopes was brutally killed by drug traffickers while working on assignment in one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, or shantytowns.
When The Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, was asked whether he would try to improve relations with the press by visiting media organizations, he replied, “Do you think you need to go into a toilet to know that it stinks?”
According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, more than 130 journalists have been arrested in Nepal since the government introduced anti-terrorism legislation in November 2001 criminalizing contact with or support for the country’s Maoist rebels. Sixteen journalists were in jail there at the end of 2002.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal on Yugoslavia in The Hague announced a decision to limit compelled testimony from war correspondents in response to an appeal by former Washington Post reporter Jonathan Randal. The journalist, who had been subpoenaed to testify in the case of a former Bosnian-Serb housing minister facing charges of genocide, does not have to testify.
In Belarus, three journalists who dared to write critical articles about President Aleksandr Lukashenko during the run-up to the September 2001 elections were sentenced to corrective labor for libeling the president, a criminal offense under Belarusian law.
In Chile, a television commentator faces up to five years in jail for “disrespect” after he described the country’s judiciary as “immoral, cowardly, and corrupt” for not providing compensation to a woman who had been imprisoned for a crime she did not commit.
Islamic authorities in northern Nigeria issued a fatwa urging Muslims to kill a writer from the private daily ThisDay after her article about the Miss World pageant sparked deadly riots across the country.