CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Bob Dietz

Bob Dietz, coordinator of CPJ’s Asia Program, has reported across the continent for news outlets such as CNN and Asiaweek. He has led numerous CPJ missions, including ones to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Follow him on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.

2012


Reuters Institute focuses on Sri Lankan journalism

December 28, 2012 11:08 AM ET

The most recent paper produced by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford, "Media Freedom in post-war Sri Lanka and its impact on the reconciliation process<," does a great job of cataloging the abuse Sri Lankan journalists continue to face after the decades-long civil conflict with...

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Pakistanis address violence on Pakistani journalists

December 10, 2012 12:15 PM ET

There is an absolutely terrific seven-part special report by The News on Sunday on Pakistan's problem with the killing of journalists and the impunity surrounding their deaths. It's written by and for Pakistanis, with compelling direction from Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia Pakistan--and not only describes and analyzes the problem, but...

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UPDATED: A window of opportunity to take on Sri Lanka

November 1, 2012 1:06 PM ET

If you've been watching the attempts to silence media in Sri Lanka through attacks, disappearances, legal harassment, and government policies aimed at restricting free speech and the right to information, take the time to speak out with others around the world today. An opportunity like this only comes around every...

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Quick rethink on cybercrime law in Philippines

October 9, 2012 3:42 PM ET

On Tuesday, the Philippines Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the government from enforcing the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which President Benigno Aquino III signed into law last month. The court, in full session, ordered that oral arguments for and against will start January 15. And it...

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In Pakistan, a murderous exercise in democracy

October 9, 2012 3:10 PM ET

Covering political rallies in Pakistan must be considered a dangerous assignment. One journalist was killed and three others injured on Sunday when gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rally in Khairpur in Sindh province. All told, at least six died and 10 were wounded critically....

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Online in Philippines? Check out #notocybercrimelaw

October 5, 2012 1:48 PM ET

In a notoriously litigious country like the Philippines, it's bewildering that the government coupled a law targeting so-called cybercrimes like cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, and spamming with the hoary and over-used concept of libel. And no matter how abusive those crimes may be, it's an even bigger mystery why...

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Sandhya Eknelygoda speaks for Sri Lanka's disappeared

September 4, 2012 1:28 PM ET

When I first met Sandhya Eknelygoda in May 2010 in her home outside Colombo, she was a distressed mother of two young boys whose husband had gone missing. He was last seen four months earlier, just prior to the elections that returned President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power after the end...

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As Wang is freed, Chinese journalist Shi Tao still held

August 31, 2012 12:42 PM ET

Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning was released today after serving a 10-year prison term on charges of "incitement to subvert state power," a case built in good part on client information supplied by Yahoo. Wang had used his Yahoo email account and the discussion forum Yahoo Groups to spread ideas...

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A journalist's account of a Cambodian activist's death

August 27, 2012 1:08 PM ET

Here's a quick pointer to a piece in the Daily Beast by freelance reporter Olesia Plokhii, who worked at The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh until May this year. Plokhii's moving story, "Death of a Forester," describes the death of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian activist who was shot a...

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No right to information in Sri Lanka

August 7, 2012 11:27 AM ET

You would think that with fighting between government forces and secessionist Tamils finished in May 2009, the Sri Lankan government might ease its grip on public information--information which is really the property of the country's citizens, not whichever administration happens to be holding political power. In 2004, former President...

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Principled broadcasting in Pakistan, a work in progress

August 3, 2012 1:21 PM ET

Pakistan's media, particularly broadcast, are often praised and condemned, sometimes in the same sentence. The number of television broadcasters exploded under the Musharraf government, growing to around 90 private cable and satellite channels. And while the growth has been swift and competitive, very often the end product leaves a lot...

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Time to reassess U.S. military counterinsurgency tactics

July 27, 2012 4:16 PM ET

One year ago, on July 28, 2011, Ahmad Omaid Khpalwak, 25, was killed by American troops during a brutal close-quarters battle with a Taliban suicide squad backed by gunmen. Khpalwak was one of 22 people killed in the hours-long siege on government buildings that included the governor's office and...

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Defense tools for Sri Lanka's online onslaught

July 25, 2012 2:17 PM ET

Sanjana Hattotuwa, the founder of the citizen journalism website Groundviews, sent us the links to a new series of posters and videos focused on digital communications security. The material, which is aimed at a Sri Lankan audience, is available in English, Sinhala, and Tamil, but is relevant to anyone who...

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Afghanistan's draft media law slowed, but not stopped

July 17, 2012 2:29 PM ET

For now, the Afghan government's apparent attempt at railroading through a less-than-media-friendly new Mass Media Law without consultation seems to have been sidelined, though not derailed. On Sunday in Kabul, representatives of the Ministry of Information and Culture received recommendations from civil society workers and journalists, including some from the...

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Sri Lankan editor needs backup after minister's tirade

July 10, 2012 11:41 AM ET

As far as Frederica Jansz is concerned, "The Sri Lankan media have been completely cowed into submission by this regime with the exception of The Sunday Leader. It is Mahinda Rajapaksa's biggest success story next to winning the war."...

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Afghan donors must address media repression

July 5, 2012 4:06 PM ET

One thing that had better be high on the agenda this weekend at the meeting of 70 or so international aid donors for Afghanistan in Tokyo is the recently released official draft version of the Mass Media Law (a copy of the draft can be found here). I mentioned...

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Dangerous disease--the unexpected threat

June 21, 2012 1:03 PM ET

Last week, Tarun Sehrawat, a 22-year-old Indian photographer for Tehelka magazine, died from cerebral malaria and its complications, according to several of his colleagues and media accounts. He had returned, ill, from a shooting assignment with Tehelka's reporter Tusha Mittal in May. The team had been covering the ongoing Maoist revolt...

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Don't punish Chinese restrictions with more restrictions

June 21, 2012 10:31 AM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists is watching with concern the progress of H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011, which is under discussion Wednesday in front of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The bill seeks to reduce the number of visas available to journalists (and their...

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Afghan media is under political and economic pressure

June 11, 2012 4:24 PM ET

Danish Karokhel, who won a CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2008, messaged this morning concerned that the news agency he runs, Pajhwok Afghan News, and some other media outlets have been referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Ministry of Information and Culture for reporting on an...

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In Pakistan, UN human rights chief meets with Jahangir

June 7, 2012 1:43 PM ET

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in opening remarks at her press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, addressed a wide range of problems in Pakistan, including those faced by journalists. (The full statement is on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.) What...

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EU, UN officials in Pakistan must make time for Jahangir

June 5, 2012 12:47 PM ET

There is no better time than now for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton to step out of their tightly planned schedule of meetings in Pakistan and make a trip to the home of human rights activist Asma Jahangir....

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Foreign broadcasters shut down for Cambodian elections

June 4, 2012 4:11 PM ET

How far has democracy advanced in Cambodia? Not very far. Activists from three different political parties died during the 15-day campaign period leading up to the elections, in which the ruling Cambodian People's Party won a large majority of seats, according to a report issued by the Committee for Free...

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How times change in Sri Lanka, and how they don't

June 4, 2012 12:48 PM ET

For a good historical perspective on the abuse of journalists in Sri Lanka, Iqbal Athas, the recipient of a 1994 International Press Freedom Award from CPJ, wrote a center-page spread for the 25th anniversary edition of the Sunday Times, a popular weekly in Colombo. Athas, a critical journalist who...

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Third witness to Maguindanao massacre killed

June 1, 2012 3:34 PM ET

The climate of impunity that fostered the November 23, 2009, massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists, is alive and well not only on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where the massacre took place, but in all of the country. The revelation that the brutalized body of a key...

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A heads-up for Sri Lanka press freedom watchers

June 1, 2012 12:55 PM ET

Former Attorney General Mohan Peiris has been ordered to testify about a statement he made at the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva on November 9, 2011, in which he said that Prageeth Eknelygoda was alive and living outside the country (see "Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen"). Peiris will have to appear...

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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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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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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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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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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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Afghan journalist's death must lead to better combat rules

April 25, 2012 3:05 PM ET

Wednesday, the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) released its report, "Death of an Uruzgan Journalist: Command Errors and Collateral Damage," by Kate Clark on the July 2011 shooting death of journalist Omaid Khpalwak. Clark's details on how Khpalwak died corroborate and then go beyond the investigation already conducted by the U.S.-led...

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In Sri Lanka: Protecting Peiris, hounding victim's family

April 25, 2012 12:00 PM ET

The magistrate's hearings into the January 24, 2010, disappearance of opposition journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda continue at a tortuously slow pace. A correspondent in Colombo shared the details of the April 24 hearing, where Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya, and the couple's two teenage sons continue to press for any news of...

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Another Pakistan attack, this one online

April 20, 2012 4:00 PM ET

The Friday Times in Lahore has come under cyberattack. Earlier Friday, its website could not be accessed. Najam Sethi, the paper's editor, told CPJ that someone has "launched an attack on the websites of both The Friday Times and Vanguard Books [the book publishing and distribution company that owns the...

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Indian justice grinds slowly, but not so finely

April 20, 2012 1:25 PM ET

First, a bit of history: In 2008, CPJ reported: The high court in the western state of Gujarat defended the media, rebuking a prosecutor for demanding state regulation of newspaper content. The prosecution sought restrictions after the Ahmedabad police commissioner filed sedition charges against a Times of India editor and...

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Murtaza Razvi, and what should come next

April 20, 2012 12:12 PM ET

The ceremony for Murtaza Razvi was held in Karachi Friday. Even as more details of the killing of one of the Dawn Media Group's most senior journalists emerge, it's difficult to discern a motive. Several Pakistani media quoted an anonymous police official as saying, "We are investigating into the...

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A Pakistani 'sword of Damocles' in the making?

April 2, 2012 4:45 PM ET

Given that it is usually punishable by death, "treason" is a dangerous word to bandy about. When it is applied to journalists, it is even more worrisome. We've seen that in Sri Lanka, which is in the throes of a backlash against a U.N. resolution on past human rights abuses....

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Wary about Burma? So are others

April 2, 2012 1:57 PM ET

Amid the rush to see changes in Burma as an inexorable move toward full democracy--Aung San Suu Kyi's electoral victory over the weekend is certainly cause for hope--CPJ has maintained a healthy skepticism about media reform in Burma. Shawn Crispin's "In Burma, press freedom remains an illusion," posted on Friday,...

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Eknelygoda's wife latest victim of Sri Lankan intolerance

March 26, 2012 2:04 PM ET

On Thursday and Friday, we wrote about the ugly government backlash to last week's U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists....

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Amid Sri Lankan denial, threats rise for journalists

March 23, 2012 2:15 PM ET

In the wake of the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged abuses of international humanitarian law during its war with Tamil separatists, the government has resorted to outright threats of violence against journalists who might dare to return home after taking part...

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Ahmed Rashid on U.S. policy in South Asia

March 22, 2012 10:00 AM ET

At Columbia University on Monday evening, CPJ board member Ahmed Rashid held forth to a full house in a conversation with Steve Coll about U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you're reading this blog, there's most likely no need to explain who Rashid is--or Coll, for that matter....

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Sri Lanka media restrictions come amid rise in abductions

March 15, 2012 1:45 PM ET

On March 9, Sri Lanka's military authorities told all news and media organizations that they would have to get prior approval before releasing text or SMS news alerts containing any news about the military or police....

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No joke: Malaysian cartoonist stands up to government

February 27, 2012 3:19 PM ET

Tuesday marks the next step in a legal faceoff between Malaysian authorities and the well-known political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, also known as Zunar. Hearings will resume in civil lawsuit filed by Zunar that challenges the legality of his arrest and detention in September 2010. Malaysian police arrested him...

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Threats and menace: Pakistan's war on words

February 21, 2012 11:40 PM ET

In Pakistan, the term "a war of words" can take on a menacing dimension beyond the metaphorical. Words--written, spoken, or reported--regularly land journalists in trouble, a very literal, physical sort of trouble. Reporters have become accustomed to being threatened, and over the years they've seen threats sometimes build to...

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Threats to Pakistani journalists don't let up

February 14, 2012 5:05 PM ET

In the last few days, messages from two journalists in Pakistan have made me realize that I can't turn away from publicizing the threats they are facing, because they just keep coming. ...

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Archaic media policies make China a poor partner

February 14, 2012 3:25 PM ET

President Obama has promised to raise issues of human rights when he and his administration meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the next day. After that, Xi, billed as China's next leader, is expected to make some speeches, visit a few factories, stop at the Pentagon, sign...

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What's behind India's Internet censorship?

February 8, 2012 5:35 PM ET

We have been posting a lot about the challenges facing the Internet in India recently--see Mannika Chopra's "India struggles to cope with growing Internet penetration." On Tuesday, Angela Saini, a guest blogger on The Guardian's Comment Is Free site, posted "Internet censorship could damage India's democracy," with the subhead "Google...

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Pakistan's Abbas: Journalists hostage to 'power of gun'

February 7, 2012 1:42 PM ET

CPJ award winner Mazhar Abbas penned a strong Sunday op-ed piece, "Death is the only news--Challenges of working in conflict zones," for The News. It's about conditions for journalists working in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Baluchistan. As Abbas says, "The killing of one journalist is a...

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Black January? A foreign plot, says Sri Lankan government

January 25, 2012 3:46 PM ET

On Monday, I wrote about two demonstrations scheduled for Sri Lanka this week. Both were meant to commemorate the ugly string of anti-press attacks in recent Januaries, which has included journalists killed and abducted, television stations bombed, websites attacked, and media offices torched. But Wednesday's Black January effort, publicized...

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Mazhar Abbas: Shahzad was no Pearl

January 24, 2012 2:22 PM ET

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl in Karachi on January 23, 2002. On February 21 of that year, a video of his beheading was released. In the wake of the judicial inquiry into the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, veteran...

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In Sri Lanka, Eknelygoda asks that humanity trump cruelty

January 23, 2012 5:28 PM ET

A couple of weeks ago, I described the terrible incidence of anti-press abuse that has come each recent January in Sri Lanka. Media activists have come to call the month "Black January" for good reason, as this email message details: ...

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A deeper reading: Umar Cheema on the Shahzad report

January 18, 2012 3:47 PM ET

With the shooting of Mukarram Khan Aatif on Tuesday, the once high-profile case of Saleem Shahzad has almost been overtaken by events. The day before Aatif's death, Umar Cheema had sent me a link to his analysis of the judicial inquiry into the killing of Saleem Shahzad....

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One year on: Remembering Wali Khan Babar

January 13, 2012 1:12 PM ET

Today is the first anniversary of the killing of Geo TV broadcast reporter Wali Khan Babar in Karachi, a case that has almost been forgotten, particularly in the shadow of the release of the judicial inquiry into the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad. The report on Shahzad has been...

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No culprits named in Shahzad investigation, media reports

January 11, 2012 2:02 PM ET

About six months after it was launched, the commission investigating the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad submitted its report to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday. In the past, the government has not released results of such investigations into the deaths of journalists, but there might be an exception...

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The HRCP's call to address threats against journalists

January 10, 2012 2:23 PM ET

A quick pointer to a statement issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Monday: It said, in part, that "The HRCP is alarmed at reports of threats received by journalists on account of their work." The commission asked the government to ensure that threats to journalists end and...

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Sri Lanka's woeful January way-points

January 9, 2012 4:28 PM ET

For Sri Lankan journalists, January might be the cruelest month. In January 2011, Sonali Samarasinghe wrote about the death of her husband Lasantha Wickramatunga two years earlier on January 8, 2009. In January 2010 I reported in "Sri Lanka: A year later, still failing to fight media attacks" about the...

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