May 2012

CPJ Blog

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Computer crime laws belie Thai claim to modern society

May 31, 2012 5:19 PM ET

At online discussion sites all over the world, comments are posted on the Web as soon as they are written. People argue, inform, express anger, and voice fears. Some say things in the heat of the moment that they might go on to regret. Others are elliptical and obscure. The...

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Free expression in Americas goes beyond left or right

May 31, 2012 3:47 PM ET

On Sunday the general assembly of the Organization of American States will convene in Bolivia in the verdant, highland valley city of Cochabamba. The 35 member states (every nation in the region except Cuba) are expected to vote on a measure that, if passed, could curtail free expression and press...

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23 years after Tiananmen, China is still paying

May 31, 2012 2:23 PM ET

The annual crackdown on commemorations of the June 4 anniversary of the brutal suppression of student-led demonstrations based in Tiananmen Square in 1989 Beijing is under way, according to Agence France-Presse. What's concerning is the number of writers and activists for whom "crackdown" is the new normal....

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Mission tells Nepal: No excuse for deferring press freedom

May 31, 2012 10:34 AM ET

As Nepal's constituent assembly failed to meet Sunday's deadline for the passage of a new constitution, a new report released this week on the risks to Nepal's media should remind political parties that peace and stability are not prerequisites to media freedom but rather that a strong, independent press operating...

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Rising violence in Pakistan's warring Baluchistan

May 30, 2012 2:26 PM ET

The murder of a part-time journalist and a gunfire attack on the house of the president of the Turbat Press Club, both on May 28, underscore the nature of the escalating violence in Baluchistan. According to the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management, which monitors violence across South Asia, at least...

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Sina 'information credit score' restricts Weibo users

May 29, 2012 4:10 PM ET

Sina's Twitter-like microblog service Weibo has released new guidelines to restrict users who share banned content, according to international news reports. It's the first time such guidelines target users who adopt puns, homonyms, and other veiled references to discuss censored news stories without using keywords on the propaganda department's...

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One year later: Saleem Shahzad's case is buried

May 29, 2012 3:01 PM ET

On May 21 this year, a military court convicted three Pakistani naval officers of negligence and dereliction of duty for their actions during an attack on the main naval airbase in the heart of Karachi on May 22, 2011. After the incident had ended, the military said 10 security...

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Liberia university suspends student journalist over article

May 25, 2012 2:58 PM ET

A private university in Liberia has suspended a journalist studying there for publishing a newspaper story critical of the institution's management. On May 8, private Cuttington University in Suacoco in central Liberia suspended Selma Lomax, a reporter with independent newspaper FrontPage Africa and a third-year student in agriculture at the institution, for...

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Solidarity, a key to security, eludes Salvadoran press

May 25, 2012 10:16 AM ET

No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series...

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At CPJ Debrief, Gettleman cites Somalia danger, reward

May 24, 2012 5:57 PM ET

Jeffrey Gettleman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent, says he travels with "a small militia" whenever he reports from Somalia, the East African country afflicted by armed insurgency, poverty, and hunger. As intrusive as the security detail might be, he feels far more fortunate than the local reporters...

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Even by Pakistani standards, a terrible month for press

May 24, 2012 4:02 PM ET

May has been a terrible month for journalists in Pakistan, a country that has ranked as the world's deadliest place for the press for two consecutive years. Two journalists have been killed, two more shot and wounded, and one attacked while in police custody, all in less than a month,...

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Nations urge Ecuador to guarantee freedom of expression

May 24, 2012 12:11 PM ET

Stressing concerns of human rights groups about the deterioration of press conditions under the administration of President Rafael Correa, 17 members of the United Nations submitted recommendations to Ecuador on freedom of expression issues before the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. While Ecuador tried to pass off the...

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El Mañana cedes battle to report on Mexican violence

May 23, 2012 3:13 PM ET

They would tell you that the killers haven't let them cover real news for several years--if you call news serious information that's important to the public, like why the police didn't investigate so many murders or kidnappings or extortions. Or why drugs were sold so openly. Or that three...

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No joke: Moves to squelch Pakistani media, again

May 23, 2012 12:07 PM ET

With general elections approaching, the landscape is again bearing eerie resemblance to the final days of General Pervez Musharraf's reign. In November 2007 he banned selected TV channels for 88 days to stifle what he saw as "irresponsible journalism." Now, Pakistani electronic media might be chained again, this time...

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Members of Congress urge Meles to end repression

May 22, 2012 3:22 PM ET

Two members of the U.S. Congress, a Republican and a Democrat, have publicly voiced indignation at Ethiopia's persecution of journalists under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, with both declaring that stability and security are enhanced by press freedom....

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As Eurovision starts, partnership cites Baku repression

May 22, 2012 12:15 PM ET

As the Eurovision song contest gets under way in Baku, Azerbaijani authorities continue to suppress freedom of expression, detaining 10 protesters on Monday, Reuters reported. The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan, a coalition of free expression organizations that includes the Committee to Protect Journalists, has launched a website, Facebook...

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Sudan's press under siege

May 21, 2012 4:19 PM ET

Press freedom in Sudan is rapidly deteriorating, with confiscation of newspapers by the security agency becoming a norm. The scope of violations committed against publications and journalists by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is widening by the day....

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Anti-foreign attitudes bode ill for China correspondents

May 21, 2012 1:34 PM ET

The story of Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan's expulsion from China has a disturbing coda. ...

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Don't get your sources in Syria killed

May 21, 2012 11:28 AM ET

Because foreign journalists have been virtually banned from Syria during the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime, news coverage has relied heavily on citizen journalists and international reporters working with sources inside the country. Syrians who communicate with foreign news media run the risk of being threatened, detained, tortured, or...

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Sorting out sanctions, censorship, sincerity in Burma

May 18, 2012 6:59 PM ET

On Thursday, the United States rolled back prohibitions against American companies doing business in Burma. The announcement marked the latest diplomatic reward given to President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government for initiating reforms in what has historically been a military-run country. In making the announcement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary...

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Signs of change in North Korea

May 17, 2012 5:56 PM ET

CPJ may have raised some eyebrows with this year's list of the world's 10 most censored countries. North Korea was relegated to the number two slot, behind Eritrea. In our last ranking, in 2006, we ranked North Korea as the worst, and many other organizations continue to do that....

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UK set for historic libel reform

May 17, 2012 3:20 PM ET

New libel legislation proposed by the British government has been met with general approval by reform campaigners, who will now train their sights on further strengthening some aspects of the bill during the parliamentary process....

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Sri Lanka Supreme Court slams door on websites

May 17, 2012 11:52 AM ET

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka's Supreme Court slammed the door on a case about the shutdown of four websites that had failed to register with the government. In handing down its decision, the Court appeared to rule that freedom of expression in Sri Lanka is not an absolute right and can...

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CPJ calls for release of jailed reporters in Central Asia

May 15, 2012 1:30 PM ET

World leaders must hold Central Asian regimes responsible for denying global access to information by throwing critical reporters behind bars, CPJ Eurasia researcher Muzaffar Suleymanov told the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe  at a briefing Tuesday on political prisoners in Central Asia....

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Audio slideshow: Supporting family of Anton Hammerl

May 14, 2012 5:05 PM ET

Freelance photographer Anton Hammerl was killed in Libya on April 5, 2011. Friends of Hammerl are holding an auction May 15 to raise funds for his three children. James Foley elaborates....

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Nigeria journalists obstructed on World Press Freedom Day

May 11, 2012 4:50 PM ET

On World Press Freedom Day last week, Nigeria's Information Minister, Labaran Maku, publicly asserted that the country's media "is one of the freest in the universe." On paper, Nigeria's 1999 Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press to "uphold...the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people." But...

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Chinese microblog regulates, suspends users--again

May 10, 2012 3:40 PM ET

Pity those of us who monitor the ups and downs of China's popular microblog platform, Sina Weibo. For every story its users spread in defiance of local censorship, there follows a clampdown. Whether it's the latest strike against rumors, or real name registration, or newly banned keywords, there's always...

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Should J-School grads just get up and go overseas?

May 10, 2012 1:05 PM ET

The guidance is hardly clear. At a Columbia University event last week pegged to the release of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide, one journalism student said he and his classmates are getting contradictory advice. Many J-school professors, he said, have encouraged him and others to just get up,...

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Greek far-right party casts shadow on Europe press freedom

May 9, 2012 11:11 AM ET

The celebration Tuesday of the 50th anniversary of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) should have been a joyful and lighthearted affair. Dozens of journalists from all parts of the European Union had traveled to Brussels to share memories, new projects, champagne, and petits fours....

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Attack shows all reporters at risk in Vietnam

May 9, 2012 10:57 AM ET

Recent physical assault on two state media reporters in Vietnam underscores the risks of reporting on increasingly sensitive land issues in the communist-ruled country. The attack on the reporters signals a potential extension of the media crackdown that until now has targeted mainly unsanctioned journalists and bloggers....

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China ducks questions about Al-Jazeera expulsion

May 8, 2012 5:50 PM ET

"The Beijing branch of Al-Jazeera is still functioning normally." This was not an auspicious reaction to the news that Al-Jazeera English has closed its Beijing bureau after being refused journalist visas. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei's responses at today's press conference did not improve from there, according...

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In UK talks, some practical solutions for Pakistani press

May 8, 2012 2:36 PM ET

Amid political tumult in Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a team of six ministers are in London for far-ranging meetings today through May 13. The Pakistan-U.K. Enhanced Strategic Dialogue will review education, health, defense, security, and cultural cooperation. CPJ has written a letter to Prime Minister...

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China's media footprint in Kenya

May 7, 2012 4:17 PM ET

Will China's quickly expanding media presence in Africa result in a fresh, alternative, and balanced perspective on the continent--much as Al-Jazeera altered the broadcast landscape with the launch of its English service in 2006--or will it be essentially an exercise in propaganda?...

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Equatorial Guinea bars reporter from press freedom debate

May 7, 2012 2:56 PM ET

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, CPJ published a list of the 10 most censored countries, citing Equatorial Guinea as the fifth worst offender. In response, the Minister of Information and government spokesperson, Jerónimo Osa Osa Ecoro, dismissed the analysis of the country's press situation as...

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The EBU must stand up for press freedom in Azerbaijan

May 7, 2012 2:22 PM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists and several other media and human rights groups have issued a letter after participating in the May 2 European Broadcasting Union-organized workshop on freedom of the media in Azerbaijan....

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Breaking pledge, Bahrain bars free expression mission

May 4, 2012 1:07 PM ET

Reneging on a promise made just weeks earlier, Bahraini authorities have denied visas to representatives of several free expression organizations who planned to travel to the kingdom next week to assess press and free speech conditions. CPJ is among several organizations that have signed a joint letter to Bahrain's director of...

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In digital security, knowledge and simplicity are keys

May 3, 2012 3:02 PM ET

Governments and criminal organizations are stepping up digital surveillance of journalists, but the press is not keeping pace in meeting the challenge, a panel of experts said Wednesday at an event marking the launch of the CPJ Journalist Security Guide. Reporters are using unsecure consumer electronic products for sensitive...

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Most censored nations each distort the Net in own way

May 2, 2012 4:00 PM ET

One big reason for the Internet's success is its role as a universal standard, interoperable across the world. The data packets that leave your computer in Botswana are the same as those which arrive in Barbados. The same is increasingly true of modern mobile networks. Standards are converging: You...

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China's media conditions threaten Chen Guangcheng

May 2, 2012 3:18 PM ET

The battle over blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's freedom and well-being is a battle over information. Both Chinese and U.S. officials are trying to spin the story their way. A few activists and media claim to speak for Chen, and in China's anti-press environment they are putting themselves at risk....

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China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

May 2, 2012 2:10 PM ET

China didn't make the cut for our 10 most censored countries. While the Chinese Communist Party's censorship apparatus is notorious, journalists and Internet users work hard to overcome the restrictions. Nations like Eritrea and North Korea lack that dynamism....

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Safer mobile use is key issue for journalists

May 2, 2012 2:00 PM ET

As the Internet and mobile communications become more integrated into reporters' work, the digital threats to journalists' work and safety have increased as well. While many press reports have documented Internet surveillance and censorship--and the efforts to combat them--mobile communications are the new frontline for journalist security....

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As Eurovision host, Azerbaijan must promote free press

May 2, 2012 1:30 PM ET

Today in its report on the Most Censored Countries in the world, CPJ singled out Azerbaijan for its lack of foreign or independent broadcasters and because the handful of journalists there who manage to work on independent newspapers or websites are subjected to intimidation, harassment, physical attacks that occur with...

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Assisting journalists forced to flee censorship

May 2, 2012 12:00 AM ET

CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program supports journalists who cannot be helped by advocacy alone. In 2011, we assisted 171 journalists worldwide. Almost a fourth came from countries that made CPJ's Most Censored list. Eight journalists from Eritrea, five from Syria, six from Cuba, and a whopping 20 from Iran sought...

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New film "High Tech, Low Life" on Chinese bloggers

May 1, 2012 5:36 PM ET

"High Tech, Low Life," a new documentary about Chinese bloggers directed by Stephen Maing, debuted at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 19. It documents the lives of Zola (Zhou Shuguang) and Tiger Temple (Zhang Shihe), as they blur the lines of citizen journalism and...

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