Journalist Hopewell Chin'ono is seen at a court in Harare, Zimbabwe, on July 22, 2020. Today, he was rearrested after he was released on bail. (AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Globally journalists covering the pandemic continue to face threats

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

Journalists worldwide continue to face attacks and harassment while covering COVID-19 and related lockdowns. In Brazil, an unidentified group harassed and threatened journalist Bárbara Barbosa and a camera operator while reporting on lockdown compliance. In Italy, a television crew covering anti-lockdown demonstrations were attacked and chased, and journalist Mimmo Rubio was threatened over his reporting of COVID-19 protests and organized crime. In Israel, at least eight journalists were attacked while reporting on COVID-19 restrictions in ultra-Orthodox areas. Learn more about press crackdowns during the pandemic and how journalists can stay safe here.

In Zimbabwe, police rearrested prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and charged him with contempt of court. Chin’ono was released on bail in September after spending 44 days in pre-trial detention on charges of incitement. The arrest “speaks volumes about the pettiness of authorities,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator.

On the tech front, in the Columbia Journalism Review, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon explores potential paths forward for tech companies struggling to protect free expression while combatting disinformation on their platforms. CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch delves further into the issue of tech platforms’ labelling of state media in the new annual report from the Dynamic Coalition on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media, which launched Thursday at the UN Internet Governance Forum.

Global press freedom updates

  • Mexican journalist Arturo Alba shot and killed in Ciudad Juárez
  • Journalist Romano dos Anjos kidnapped and assaulted in Brazil
  • Peruvian police raid offices of television and radio outlets, confiscate equipment
  • Colombia court ruling sets a dangerous precedent for investigative reporting
  • Hong Kong police arrest, charge producer Choy Yuk Ling for research on 2019 mob attack documentary
  • Nigeria journalist Oga Tom Uhia detained for weeks on defamation complaint
  • Moldovan airline employee prevents Russian journalist Irek Murtazin from boarding flight to Moldova
  • Russian police detain, interrogate journalist Yana Toporkova, raid her home
  • Geo News reporter Ali Imran Syed abducted for 22 hours in Pakistan
  • And in a rare piece of good news, CPJ welcomed repeal of criminal libel in Sierra Leone, urges further reform


Hard body vest and ballistic hard plate insert (Jonathan Goldberg/CPJ)

As tensions persist around elections in countries like Tanzania and the U.S., and the pandemic stretches on, CPJ published a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) glossary for journalists that includes information on relevant equipment for different reporting situations, from war zones and protests, to natural disasters, to an undercover investigation. Explore and bookmark the glossary here, use this template to do a risk assessment to determine what type of PPE could be needed for an assignment, and explore our journalist safety kit with physical, digital, and psychosocial safety information.

It’s less than a week until the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s 2020 Trust Conference on November 11 but there’s still time to register! The free virtual event will explore the challenges posed by the pandemic and look ahead to the shaping of our recovery. Experts from around the world will tackle issues on everything from media freedom and inclusive economies to human rights.

CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon will join a panel discussion, “Countering the ‘COVID-crackdown’: How do we address the pandemic’s impact on media freedom?” at 2:00 p.m. GMT.

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