Rwandan police said journalist John Williams Ntwali was recently killed in a traffic accident in Kigali. CPJ and others have called for a thorough investigation into his death. (Screenshot: YouTube/Al-Jazeera)

CPJ joins calls for credible investigation into death of Rwandan journalist John Williams Ntwali

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CPJ joined about 100 other human rights and press freedom organizations Tuesday in a joint statement calling on the Rwandan government to ensure an “independent, impartial, and effective investigation” into the death of journalist John Williams Ntwali.

Authorities said that Ntwali died on January 18 in a traffic accident in the capital city of Kigali. However, the organizations note, “two weeks after the alleged accident, Rwandan authorities have failed to provide a police report, the exact location of the alleged accident, any photo or video evidence, or detailed information on the others involved in it.”

Ntwali frequently received threats in connection to his critical journalism. Given Rwanda’s failure to investigate past “suspicious deaths of political opponents or high-profile critics,” the organizations call for international experts on arbitrary killings to be involved in the investigation.

Separately, CPJ Director of Special Projects Robert Mahoney wrote an opinion piece arguing that former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s attack on journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s reputation in his memoir is “a gift to enemies of press freedom.”

Pompeo “dismissed the reaction to one of the most brazen murders of journalists in the past half century as ‘faux outrage…fueled by the media’” and called the slain Washington Post columnist an activist, not a journalist, Mahoney writes.

He adds, “when U.S. public figures undermine journalism for political or economic gain, they send a message to leaders everywhere that journalists are fair game.”

Pompeo’s book was released days after CPJ reported that 2022 saw the highest number of journalists killed worldwide since 2018.

Global press freedom updates

  • India: CPJ welcomes journalist Siddique Kappan‘s release on bail after 850 days and reiterates that all charges against him must be dropped
  • Russian authorities outlaw independent outlet Meduza
  • On two-year anniversary of military coup, Myanmar’s junta must stop persecuting journalists
  • Reporting team with Czech broadcaster ČT24 narrowly escapes shelling in Ukraine
  • Albanian journalist Elvis Hila attacked over coverage of court case
  • Venezuelan authorities question two El Nacional employees, summon three others
  • Chilean journalist Felipe Soto Cortés convicted of criminal defamation
  • Nigerian journalist Agba Jalingo charged with cybercrime over report on governor’s relative


Josep Borrell talks to the press as he arrives for an EU meeting in Brussels on January 23, 2023. (John Thys/AFP)

On January 27, CPJ sent a letter to Josep Borrell Fontelles, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president of the European Commission, calling for the European Union to renew pressure on Moroccan authorities to release detained journalists, stop the arbitrary surveillance of journalists, and for the European External Action Service to strengthen calls for media freedom to be respected in the country.

The letter calls on Fontelles to use all diplomatic and political means possible to secure the release of three journalists imprisoned in Morocco: Omar Radi, Soulaiman Raissouni, and Taoufik Bouachrine.

Separately, on Tuesday, CPJ joined other international press freedom and human rights organizations in a letter to Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Japarov to express alarm at the escalating repression of journalists and crackdown on press freedom pursued by the Kyrgyz government. The signatories request a meeting with Japarov to discuss this deterioration in democratic norms.

A closer look

A proposed U.K. Online Safety Bill aims to compel social media companies to control the spread of illegal content, but tech firms and privacy groups say it threatens end-to-end encryption, which apps like WhatsApp and Signal use to keep messages private between sender and recipient.

The government said videos promoting illegal immigration would be restricted, which could impact journalism. The drafted bill explicitly protects journalistic content, but it is not clear how platforms and Ofcom, the government-appointed regulator that will enforce the law, will interpret it in practice.

Experts say that in order to comply with the requirement to “proactively filter” online information, companies are likely to use artificial intelligence – technology that scans posts before they are published for keywords or images. But automatic filters make mistakes, and rights groups generally oppose them.

While the bill does not ban encryption, some of its provisions apply to private communications, meaning companies would have to break encryption to comply.

Dive deeper into CPJ’s feature about the bill.

What we are reading (and watching)

So far in 2023…

At least one journalist has been killed in relation to their work. Explore our database and apply filters to examine trends in the data.

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