"Turkey Crackdown Chronicle" to increase documentation of press freedom violations
New York, March 21, 2016--In response to the recent spike in media freedom violations in Turkey, the Committee to Protect Journalists has launched the "Turkey Crackdown Chronicle," a real-time diary of attacks on journalists and other press freedom abuses.
CPJ releases comparative study of criminal defamation laws in the Americas
Lima, Peru, March 2, 2016--An alarming resurgence in the use of outdated criminal defamation provisions to target critical journalists across Latin America represents a danger to freedom of expression in the region, according to a new report released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists and prepared for CPJ by the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, in collaboration with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The report found that 32 out of 33 countries in the Americas penalize defamation with criminal laws that are invoked to punish dissent and which create a chilling effect on the press. Jamaica is the only country in the region to have entirely repealed criminal defamation provisions.
"Despite the emerging consensus that criminal defamation laws violate international freedom of expression standards, the continued use of such provisions has deterred the aggressive reporting necessary for robust debate in a free and open society," wrote Carlos Lauría, CPJ's program director and senior program coordinator for the Americas, in the report's introduction.
International human rights instruments and a growing body of international legal opinion clearly state that defamation laws can have a chilling effect on speech by hampering the right to freedom of expression and the right to be informed.
The report found that several countries have made progress in repealing defamation laws. For example, Mexico has decriminalized defamation at the federal level and Argentina has eliminated libel and slander laws in matters of public interest, according to the report.
Lauría presented the report in Peru's capital, Lima, today during a panel discussion moderated by Juan Bellocq, legal manager with Trust Law Thomson Reuters Foundation. The participants included Catalina Botero Marino, a former OAS special rapporteur for freedom of expression, Roberto Pereira, a Peruvian constitutional lawyer and expert on freedom of expression issues with Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), and José Leandro Reaño, a partner in the law firm Rodrigo, Elias & Medrano. The event was co-sponsored by IPYS.
In 2015, 71 journalists killed in relation to their work; 199 imprisoned
New York, January 6, 2015--In 2015, 71 journalists were killed in direct relation to their work, making it the fourth deadliest year since the Committee to Protect Journalists began keeping records in 1992, the organization said today.
Thirty of the journalists killed, or 42 percent, died at the hands of extremist groups such as Islamic State. Those killings came as more than half of the 199 journalists imprisoned in 2015 were jailed on anti-state charges, showing how the press is caught between perpetrators of terrorism and governments purporting to fight terrorists.
CPJ reported in December that 69 journalists were killed around the world from January 1 through December 23, 2015. On December 27, Naji Jerf, editor-in-chief of the independent monthly Hentah and the maker of documentary films on Islamic State, was murdered in Turkey. In addition, new information led CPJ to confirm that Ahmed Mohamed al-Mousa was killed in relation to his work as a journalist. Al-Mousa, a 23-year-old editor for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, was shot dead in Idlib province on December 16. The group of Syrian citizen journalists was honored with CPJ's 2015 International Press Freedom Award in November.
In 2015, the fight against impunity in the murders of journalists achieved some success, with at least six convictions worldwide. CPJ advocacy also contributed to the release of at least 50 journalists from prison, while the total number in jail at the time of CPJ's annual census declined slightly compared with the past three years. Of the journalists released this year, six were featured in the Press Uncuffed campaign, which, in partnership with students at the University of Maryland, seeks to raise awareness of journalists imprisoned worldwide.
"Though journalists still face significant global challenges, there is reason for hope," said Courtney Radsch, CPJ's advocacy director. "In 2016, CPJ will keep the pressure on governments worldwide to allow journalists to work freely and safely."
CPJ's database of journalists killed for their work in 2015 includes capsule reports on each victim and a statistical analysis. CPJ maintains a database of all journalists killed since 1992. The database is continually updated.
Total number imprisoned globally falls slightly, CPJ finds
New York, December 15, 2015--China is holding 49 journalists behind bars, the highest number ever recorded there, making it the worst jailer of journalists worldwide for the second year in a row, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. The number of journalists jailed in Egypt and Turkey also rose dramatically in 2015, even as the number of journalists imprisoned globally declined modestly from the record highs of the past three years. Rounding out the top 10 worst jailers of journalists in 2015 are Iran, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Vietnam.
Globally, there were 199 journalists behind bars on December 1, 2015. CPJ's list does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year. Detailed accounts of each journalist can be found at http://www.cpj.org/imprisoned/2015.php. For the second year since CPJ began compiling surveys of imprisoned journalists in 1990, not a single journalist in the Americas was imprisoned in relation to work on December 1.
CPJ joins calls for Brussels to push for release of jailed journalists
Brussels, December 15, 2015--The European Union must not allow the challenges of the refugee crisis to deter it from confronting Turkey about its poor press freedom record, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the European Federation of Journalists said at a joint press conference today at the Press Club Brussels Europe.
The press freedom groups condemned Turkey's continued crackdown on independent and opposition journalists and news outlets, and criticized the EU's muted response as it seeks Turkey's help in resolving the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
International Press Freedom Awards go to Ethiopian bloggers, Malaysian cartoonist, Paraguayan crime reporter, Syrian citizen journalists
New York, November 25, 2015--Journalists from Ethiopia, Malaysia, Paraguay, and Syria were honored Tuesday night at the Committee to Protect Journalists' 25th annual International Press Freedom Awards for courageous work amid risks such as physical attack, imprisonment, exile, and murder.
"These awardees go forward with their work in the face of threats from repressive governments, drug cartels, Islamic State, and other terrorists and thugs determined to stifle the truth," said Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director. "In recognizing these fearless journalists, we send a message of support to journalists everywhere--and a message to authoritarian actors that we are watching."
Prime Minister vows to protect journalists
Tunis, October 28, 2015--Tunisia's senior leadership vowed in meetings with the Committee to Protect Journalists in Tunis on Wednesday to uphold press freedom as the country transitions to democracy, and to protect journalists assaulted by security forces or threatened by extremists.
Threats of violence and government restrictions lead to self-censorship, CPJ report finds
New York, October 27, 2015--Tunisian press freedom is under threat as journalists are squeezed between violent extremists and security services sensitive to criticism, CPJ finds in a report released today, "In Tunisia, press freedom erodes amid security fears." The report finds that while Islamic militants threaten journalists, the government introduces restrictive legislation and security forces legally harass and even assault members of the press.
"Despite the press freedom advances made in Tunisia since the 2011 Arab uprisings began there, new laws have been introduced that could be abused to silence the media," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "Journalists also face threats from extremist groups, with little government protection. These factors combine to form a chilling effect at some news outlets, with editors or media owners reluctant to publish or broadcast critical coverage."
The report, written by Tunis-based journalist Safa Ben Said, examines several troubling pieces of legislation, including a draft bill that would criminalize "denigration" of police or other security forces and anti-terror legislation approved in July that allows for prison sentences of up to five years for anyone found to have praised a terrorist act. The report also finds that Tunisian security forces have resorted to physical violence or threats of violence to obstruct or intimidate journalists.
Threats to journalists' safety also come from extremists. Being squeezed between terrorists and those who purport to fight terrorism is a common predicament for journalists globally, CPJ has found.
The new report includes CPJ's recommendations to the Tunisian government for improving the press freedom climate.
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
Note to Editors:
Somalia tops list of countries where journalists are murdered and killers go free
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