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.
When a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, journalists rushed to the scene. One year later, CPJ went to Uvalde and spoke with those journalists, for whom covering the shooting was deeply personal. The journalists played a pivotal role in helping families seek answers from police about their slow response to the shooting, and have faced obstruction and threats of arrest from local authorities.
“One of the chief frustrations that the Uvalde victims’ families have expressed to us is that their access to information is so limited,” Texas Tribune reporter Zach Despart told CPJ. “So, they are learning things about the shooting from reporters because they’re not getting them from official sources.”
Watch the full video here.
Please also consider reading and sharing CPJ’s psychosocial safety resources for journalists covering gun violence in their communities.
Separately this week, CPJ condemned a Russian court’s order to extend the detention of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich by three months, which was issued during a closed-door hearing that was not announced in advance and lasted less than an hour. Gershkovich has been detained since March 29.
Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, called on Russian authorities to “immediately release Gershkovich, drop all charges against him, and stop prosecuting members of the press for their work.”
Global press freedom updates
- At least five members of the press covering Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict targeted by Pegasus spyware
- Armenian court orders freeze on assets of journalist Davit Sargsyan and outlet 168 Hours
- CPJ welcomes pardon of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich, calls for release of others in jail
- CPJ welcomes Hungary vote to partially decriminalize defamation
- Sudanese paramilitary soldiers assault at least three journalists
- Tunisian court increases prison sentence for journalist Khalifa Guesmi from one to five years
- Journalist Bushaaro Ali Mohamed detained in Somaliland
- DRC enacts press law and digital code that criminalize journalism
- Indian soldiers beat three journalists in Manipur
- Journalists harassed, one beaten after opposition protest coverage in Pakistan
- World Health Organization denies entry to two Taiwanese journalists
- Malawi journalist Francis Mzindiko assaulted while covering political event
- Jailed Nicaraguan journalist Victor Ticay accused of treason and cybercrime
- Chilean journalist Victor Herrero fined in criminal defamation case
On May 19, a Slovak criminal court acquitted businessperson Marián Kočner, the suspected mastermind of the 2018 murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. The court convicted Alena Zsuzsová, an associate of Kočner, and sentenced her to 25 years in prison.
“Those who order the killing of a journalist cannot be allowed to act with impunity,” said CPJ in a joint statement along with seven other press freedom and human rights groups condemning the verdict.
Kuciak, an investigative reporter who exposed vast official corruption, was the first journalist killed for his work in Slovakia that CPJ has documented. A recent CPJ report noted that his murder, along with that of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, played a key role in European Union initiatives to improve protection for European journalists.
On May 18, CPJ participated in a press conference in Washington, D.C., marking one year since the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by an Israeli soldier in the West Bank town of Jenin. CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour presented our recent report “Deadly Pattern,” which exposes a pattern of lethal force by the Israel Defense Forces alongside responses that evade accountability. Mansour called for the U.S. government to provide a public update on the FBI investigation in Abu Akleh’s killing and for Israel’s military to revise its rules of engagement to avoid future deaths.
Watch the full press conference here.
What we are reading (and listening to)
- Weaponizing privacy and copyright law for censorship — Courtney C. Radsch, Center for International Governance Innovation
- Media freedom: MEPs want more forceful global efforts to protect journalists — European Parliament
- The state of local news in Ukraine 2023 — Media Development Foundation
- Who killed George Polk? — Steven Portnoy, CBS News
- Journalists increasingly face legal threats, say press-freedom advocates — Joanna Sugden, The Wall Street Journal
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