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Posts tagged ‘Reporters Without Borders’

Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama.

Image: Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama

By Melissa Clyne

Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

“The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the ‘most transparent’ administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots,” The Washington Times reports.

The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.

Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea “continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.” Syria also ranked near the bottom.

The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions,” Deloire said in a statement.

The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.

• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;

• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;

• The Justice Department’s handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.

Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.

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Tukur Mamu, Desert Herald Publisher, To Be Arraigned Today –LEADERSHIP.


Tukur Mamu
By Leadership Newspaper

The detained publisher of Desert Herald, a Kaduna-based newspaper, Tukur Mamu, will be arraigned today before a magistrate court in Abuja.

Tukur was arrested on Monday at his office in Kaduna over a purported order by an Abuja magistrate court in a case filed by the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, and one Ibrahim Bamoi.

Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP, Tukur’s lawyer, Abdul Mohammed, said Tukur is being detained at Zone 7 police station in Abuja.

He said, “I spoke to him this morning (yesterday) and he said he’s fine but he is kept in the same cell with hardened criminals and terrorists. The police said he is under investigation and will appear in court tomorrow [today]. They said the cell in Force CID Area 10 is still under renovation so they can’t put him there.”

If Tukur is not arraigned today, Abdul Mohammed said, he would then seek an enforcement of his fundamental human rights, given that Tukur had stayed more than 48 hours in detention (Tuesday 2pm – Thursday 2pm).

Mamu is having a running battle with Senator Mohammed over his (Mamu) insistence on publishing a book, “FCT Administration: The Rot Within”, which is about the administration of Mohammed as the FCT minister. He had earlier filed a case against the publication of the book at the High Court, FCT Jurisdiction, Court 27.

Meanwhile, Reporters without Borders has strongly condemned the arrest and detention of Mamu. A statemment on its website reads in part: “Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed by journalist Tukur Mamu’s arrest yesterday at his office in the northern city of Kaduna by plain-clothes police, who initially took him to the city’s Criminal Investigation Department (CDI) headquarters. Mamu, who publishes the Kaduna-based weekly, Desert Herald, was then reportedly taken to the federal capital, Abuja, where he is being held at the CDI in Garki. “

“Mamu’s arrest and initial transfer to an unknown location constitutes a grave violation of freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for this journalist’s immediate release and we urge the authorities to make public the charges against him.”

Last night unknown men broke into the Desert Herald office in Kaduna and carted away with three computer laptops, one external hard drive containing vital information, some audio CDs and official files.

– See more at:…


Rights groups condemn crackdown on Venezuela TV.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Rights groups are condemning an order by Venezuela’s broadcast agency for a television channel to stop showing clips that question the legality of postponingPresident Hugo Chavez‘s inauguration.

The organizations Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders criticized the government’s actions against the country’s only staunchly anti-Chavez channel, Globovision.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Saturday that the Venezuelan government is attempting to censor critical public discussions and intimidate its critics.

Globovision had been showing clips in which it replayed remarks by Chavez, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, and Venezuela’s attorney general.

In them, the channel questioned the constitutionality of putting off the ailing president’s scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new term while he remains in Cuba more than a month after undergoing cancer surgery. The opposition had also opposed such a delay, but the Supreme Court ruled that Chavez can be sworn in later on.

The National Telecommunications Council on Wednesday opened an investigation aimed at imposing sanctions against Globovision. Pedro Maldonado, the agency’s director, said that the channel had manipulated information and that it’s illegal for TV stations to show programming that “generates anxiety in the citizenry or disturbs public order.”

It’s the eighth such investigation that the regulatory agency has opened against Globovision in recent years. Maldonado said the news channel could face sanctions including being shut down for 72 hours or being fined up to 10 percent of its annual gross income.

Reporters Without Borders called the measures against Globovision excessive.

“Is debate not allowed?” the organization said in a statement on Friday. “These proceedings are disproportionate and absurd.”

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, said “there is nothing in the content of Globovision’s broadcasts that could remotely be described as incitement or a threat to public order.”

Venezuela’s opposition has similarly called for the government to stop such measures against critical news media.

In June, Globovision paid a fine of more than $2 million imposed by regulators in another investigation.

Human Rights Watch also criticized a Jan. 6 raid by Venezuelan intelligence agents on the home of a blogger suspected of posting messages on Twitter questioning the information provided by the government about Chavez’s condition.

The blogger, Federico Medina Ravell, is a cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a former news director of Globovision.

Isabel Grisanti, a lawyer who is a friend of Medina’s family, said the agents came to the home in the city of Valencia with a court order to search the house in an investigation relating to weapons possession and alleged computer-related crimes.

Grisanti said she didn’t know why the raid was carried out, but Venezuelan media have reported that the authorities were going after people posting Twitter messages about Chavez’s condition, which the government describes as delicate while the president fights a severe respiratory infection.

Medina wasn’t home at the time. The agents found no weapons in the home but did seize two computers, Grisanti said.


By VIVIAN SEQUERA | Associated Press

Sudan blocks three newspaper for “plot” coverage: journalists.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese security agents blocked the Monday editions of three newspapers that had covered the arrest of a former spy chief over an alleged plot, journalists said, a move that highlighted the sensitivity of the issue.

Salah Gosh, former head of Sudan’s powerful intelligence and security agency, was arrested with 12 others on Thursday on suspicion of plotting to “incite chaos” and “undermine stability” in the country, said authorities.

Analysts outside Sudan said the arrests lifted the lid on divisions in Sudan’s power structure and could be seen as a warning to people suspected of planning to challenge the authority of PresidentOmar Hassan al-Bashir.

Inside Sudan, media reported on the arrests but did not speculate on their significance, tending to stick to repeating government statements.

Some of the most extensive domestic coverage was printed by daily newspapers Ahir Lahtha, al-Mashad Alan and al-Wefaq – all considered close to the government. They ran pictures of Gosh, articles about his background and Al-Wefaq quoted lawyers saying they wanted to defend him.

Ahir Lahtha editor Mustafa Abu al-Azaim told Reuters agents arrived after midnight at the printing house and ordered staff not to distribute Monday’s edition.

“First they didn’t give us a reason but then they said the ban was because of coverage of the sabotage plot,” he said.

Reporters at al-Wefaq and al-Mashad Alan also said agents had banned them from distributing their Monday print-runs.

Sudanese journalists complain of frequent restrictions on press freedom, even though censorship was officially abolished in 2009.

Security agents often confiscate entire editions after printing is finished to inflict losses on papers as a punishment for critical coverage, journalists say.

The National Press Council, which is formally in charge of licensing newspapers but has little power, could not be reached for comment.

Sudan ranked 170 out of 179 in a global press freedom index compiled by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)



Sudan seizes two newspaper Sunday editions: editors.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese security forces have confiscated the Sunday editions of two newspapers, editors said, the latest in a crackdown that has hobbled the country’s independent media.

Censorship was officially abolished in Sudan in 2009, but the secession of South Sudan a year ago, border tensions, and a spate of small anti-government demonstrations have worsened the situation for press freedom.

Authorities confiscated copies of the independent al-Sahafa, one of Sudan’s oldest dailies, after it had been printed, the newspaper’s editor Alnoor Ahmed Alnoor said.

“We consider the confiscation to be equal to an economic penalty on the newspaper,” he said, adding the authorities did not give a reason for the seizure.

A security agent also went to the printing house of the al-Jarida newspaper after midnight and banned it from publishing, managing editor Idris al-Douma said. “They confiscated every copy of the paper,” he said.

He too said he was not given a reason why the papers were seized.

The security agency did not issue any immediate statement. The National Press Council, which is in charge of licensing newspapers, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sudan ranks 170th of 179th in a global press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog.

The Arab-African country has been facing an economic crisis since South Sudan broke away more than a year ago under a 2005 peace deal, taking with it about three quarters of the country’s economically vital oil production.

The situation was worsened when the landlocked South shut down its entire output in January in a dispute with Khartoum over how much it should pay to export through the north.

Tough austerity measures announced in June to plug a budget gap sparked a series of anti-government demonstrations, but the protests have mostly petered out since then under a heavy security crackdown.

Sudan and South Sudan are set to resume talks over border security that could open the way to resuming oil exports after the two struck an interim deal on fees last month.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Alison Williams)



Myanmar press still fighting for true freedom.


  • A Myanmar man reads a local journal in Yangon on August 20, 2012. Myanmar says it has abolished media censorship, delighting journalists who have lived for decades under the shadow of the censors' marker pen

    A Myanmar man reads a local journal …

  • A Myanmar worker checks the printed sheets of a local journal at a printing house in Yangon on August 20, 2012. Journalists in Myanmar still face repressive laws that can land them in prison and say they will not stop fighting for greater freedomA Myanmar worker checks the printed …

Although unshackled from decades of direct censorship, journalistsin Myanmar still face repressive laws that can land them in prison and say they will not stop fighting for greater freedom.

The end of pre-publication checks is the latest reform by a regime seeking the lifting of Western sanctions, but there are concerns that without wider changes a climate of fear will persist and self-censorship prevail.

“Many of the restrictions, laws and regulations that were applied under the old regime will continue to apply under this new system,” said Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative for theCommittee to Protect Journalists.

“Journalists still run the risk of being imprisoned, harassed and intimidated for their journalism, so for us it’s a half measure at best.”

Myanmar’s censorship board itself has not been abolished and weekly newspapers — independent dailies are still banned — will have to submit their content to the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department after they go to print.

Journalists still live under the shadow of the 1962 Printing Act, which saw many publishers, editors and journalists as well as activists sent to jail during almost half a century of military rule that ended last year.

The law ordered publishers to register all printing presses, empowered police to seize material published without approval and a carried a maximum three-year prison term — and a fine — for anyone in breach.

“As long as the 1962 law stands without being amended, real press freedom will always be in question,” said Nyein Nyein Naing, executive editor at the 7Days News weekly paper.

Until the junta-era media laws are scrapped, journalists in the country — ranked 11th worst in the world for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders — say they will continue to seek greater rights.

“The censorship body must be abolished. The Electronic Act must be abolished. The 1962 Printing Act must be abolished. Only after that we can get real freedom of press,” said Hlaing Thit Zin Wai, editor of the Venus Weekly.

Organisers of a journalists’ rally planned for Tuesday to call for wider press freedom said police had rejected their application to protest and they were considering whether to appeal the decision.

The media also complain that there was not enough consultation about a new press law that was drafted by the information ministry in secret and is awaiting approval by the cabinet before being sent to parliament.

Pre-publication censorship was a hallmark of life under the generals who ran the country for decades and applied in the past to everything from newspapers to song lyrics and even fairy tales.

But in recent months private weekly news journals have been allowed to publish an increasingly bold range of stories, most notably about opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Reporters jailed under the junta have also been freed from long prison terms.

“Five years ago we couldn’t write about politics and democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi was not part of our media coverage. We couldn’t use the phrase ‘military regime’. Now we can!” said Nyein Nyein Naing.

But in what campaigners criticised as a backward step, two journals were recently suspended for a fortnight for printing stories without prior approval from the censors.

And the mining ministry has filed a criminal defamation suit against The Voice Weekly, which reported that the auditor-general’s office had discovered misappropriations of funds and fraud at the government division.

Under the 1962 act, both individuals and organisations can sue publications for defamation, in a country where for decades the judiciary was seen as a close ally of the junta.

“This is not only a matter of concern for the Voice. We’re facing a case that is against the whole media industry,” said Voice editor-in-chief Kyaw Min Swe after a court hearing Thursday.

A ruling on whether the case will proceed is expected on September 6.

Earlier this month the authorities announced the creation of a “Core Press Council” including journalists — the majority with close links to the government — a former supreme court judge and retired academics to study media ethics and settle press disputes.

But some observers fear the moves are largely superficial changes by a regime seeking international acceptance.

“We question still the sincerity of these moves,” said Crispin. “They seem to be giving just enough to try to win the next concession from the West and then, when they get that, resorting to their old wicked ways.”


AFPBy Shwe Yinn Mar Oo | AFP 

South Sudan’s press freedom at risk: rights group.

Related Content

Press freedom in the world’s newest nation South Sudan risks becoming as restricted as it is in arch-rival Sudan, from whom the South split last year after years of repression, Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday.

With heavy-handed security, self-censorship and lack of legal protection, South Sudanese journalists commonly face “violence and intimidation” including detention and beatings, the press rights group said.

South Sudan split from the north on July 9 last year after decades of civil war against Khartoum. However, Juba‘s rebel army turned government “has yet to embark on a road to civil liberties,” the RSF report read.

“Everything still needs to be built or rebuilt. This includes freedom of information,” it added.

Parliament has yet to pass long-delayed media laws that would protect journalists, in a country with poor literacy rates, scant training for media and little access to information.

“South Sudan is not currently prey to concerted and systematic harassment of its media,” the report said.

“But there has been a disturbing accumulation of incidents and isolated acts of repression or intimidation that end up undermining the climate in which journalists and media operate,” it added.

In a highly politicised and militarised society, journalists are often afraid to criticise the government and warned not to cover certain sensitive subjects such as the army, RSF said.

RSF places South Sudan 111 out of 179 countries in its annual press freedom index, while Sudan is ranked at 170.



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