Press freedom – The Backwaters Press http://thebackwaterspress.org/ Wed, 25 May 2022 13:07:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://thebackwaterspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-34.png Press freedom – The Backwaters Press http://thebackwaterspress.org/ 32 32 US envoy promotes press freedom https://thebackwaterspress.org/us-envoy-promotes-press-freedom/ Wed, 25 May 2022 13:07:40 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/us-envoy-promotes-press-freedom/ A U.S. envoy traveled to Tawi-Tawi to promote shared U.S.-Philippine values ​​such as freedom of the press and to strengthen already strong collaboration with local partners for inclusive peace in the region. U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Acting Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava highlighted the important role of the media in democratic societies to the audience […]]]>

A U.S. envoy traveled to Tawi-Tawi to promote shared U.S.-Philippine values ​​such as freedom of the press and to strengthen already strong collaboration with local partners for inclusive peace in the region.

U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Acting Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava highlighted the important role of the media in democratic societies to the audience of more than 100 students and faculty in her keynote address.

“It is important for our democracies and our future that we find ways to make media freedom a reality. We must protect these freedoms at digital borders and in traditional media,” Variava said.

Variava was a guest at Mindanao State University-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (MSU-TCTO) on the university’s World Press Freedom Day on May 19.

During her trip to Tawi-Tawi, Variava also spoke with local government officials and met with Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi Commander, Brig. General Romeo Racadio, and visited the American Corner at MSU-TCTO.

The U.S. Embassy said Variava’s discussion with Racadio, alongside members of the U.S. Special Operations Task Force 511.2, focused on working together to strengthen the maritime security posture and address challenges. security in the South China Sea and the Sulu Archipelago.

Task Force 511.2 partners with Western Mindanao Command and has teams directly integrated with Philippine forces throughout the region.

The U.S. Embassy said the American Corner Tawi-Tawi, supported by the U.S. government, has been a library and community resource space for the MSU-TCTO community since 2003.

The Embassy said the American Corner is located on two floors of the MSU Library. It offers books and reference materials on American history, culture, and institutions, as well as information on studying in the United States.

It also features a mural that is part of the Embassy’s Friends-Partners-Allies Mural Project, incorporating common Filipino-American values ​​and traditional elements of Tawi-Tawi culture, the embassy added.


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[Jos Midas Bartman] The fight for press freedom is local https://thebackwaterspress.org/jos-midas-bartman-the-fight-for-press-freedom-is-local/ Mon, 23 May 2022 20:30:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/jos-midas-bartman-the-fight-for-press-freedom-is-local/ A macabre political thriller recently unfolded in the Philippine province of Palawan, an island known primarily for its rich biodiversity and pristine beaches. On May 9, Joel T. Reyes, the alleged mastermind of the 2011 murder of famed broadcaster Gerry Ortega, ran again for governor. If Reyes had won, the chances of Ortega’s family getting […]]]>
A macabre political thriller recently unfolded in the Philippine province of Palawan, an island known primarily for its rich biodiversity and pristine beaches. On May 9, Joel T. Reyes, the alleged mastermind of the 2011 murder of famed broadcaster Gerry Ortega, ran again for governor. If Reyes had won, the chances of Ortega’s family getting justice for the murder would have diminished. Luckily for them, he lost.

While episodes like Ortega’s murder may seem extreme, they’re more common than many realize. Powerful authoritarian sub-national elites like Reyes, backed by a political milieu that often guarantees them impunity, pose the deadliest threat to journalists.

Ortega was shot and killed after publicly accusing Reyes, governor of Palawan from 2002 to 2011, of embezzlement. All members of the strike team were quickly arrested and later confessed to the murder. But, despite strong evidence that Reyes ordered the murder, prosecutors have refrained from charging him.

The middleman in the scheme, Rodolfo Edrad, implicated Reyes as the mastermind and was placed under witness protection. However, prosecutors concluded that Edrad’s testimony was unsubstantiated. Prosecutors have ruled that text messages Reyes sent to Edrad shortly before and after the murder — including one that read, ‘I hope when I get back the issue is resolved’ — could not be used as evidence because they were “filed out of time.”

A decade-long legal battle between Ortega’s family and Reyes ensued. A newly appointed team of prosecutors accepted the text message as evidence and took over the case, after which Reyes fled to Vietnam. Although an appeals court later ruled that the second panel of prosecutors was illegitimate, a new panel of that same court in 2019 ordered the trial to continue.

But Reyes’ arrest warrant, filed in 2021, has been temporarily lifted, allowing him to openly campaign for governor. Meanwhile, Ortega’s family, their attorneys and the Solicitor General’s office have formally asked the Supreme Court to order Reyes’ immediate arrest – a move backed by global press freedom organizations. .

That Reyes will soon be prosecuted has significant implications for press freedom in the Philippines. The country currently ranks 147th in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, partly due to the lack of safety for journalists. Widespread impunity or partial impunity for their murders is a safety concern for all journalists in the Philippines.

Organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists have expressed concern about the potential effect on press freedom of the recent election victory of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. But for many journalists, especially in large decentralized countries like the Philippines, who wields power at the regional and local level matters just as much, if not more. In young democracies with relatively weak institutions, authoritarian subnational leaders can govern in ways some national-level autocrats can only dream of. Clientelism and clientelism give them the means to win elections and sometimes plunder public resources.

This phenomenon has been evident for decades in the Philippines where, to take just one example, the Osmeña family enjoys dynastic preeminence in the province of Cebu. But it also happens in other countries. In Mexico, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had ruled the state of Veracruz for nearly a century when Javier Duarte, the governor from 2010 to 2016, became the party’s poster boy for corruption after embezzling millions of dollars of public money.

In such contexts, journalists like Ortega are democracy’s last hope. Authoritarian local leaders are always image-conscious, as a loss of face could lead central institutions to intervene. The cloning and distribution of fake versions of critical news magazines by the former government of the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico was a clumsy attempt to manage its image and silence dissent. The killing of journalists at the behest of these elites is a darker point on the continuum of repression.

Without access to accurate and objective information, there cannot be free and fair local elections. The fact that democracy is the only game in town at the national level is hardly reassuring for those who live in a state or province ruled by a local autocrat. In Veracruz, under the Duarte administration, for example, 18 journalists were murdered with impunity, and prosecutors were accused of torturing a local sex worker into falsely confessing to the murder of journalist Regina Martínez. Perez.

Unsurprisingly, executive and judicial institutions are weak in such contexts – how else could such local authoritarian leaders emerge? In the Ortega case in the Philippines, allegations of corruption within the judiciary are commonplace.

While it is difficult to discover how and by whom a journalist was murdered, assessing the exact intentions of local authorities during an investigation can be even more difficult. One possible solution is to establish independent prosecution bodies to investigate murders of journalists and monitor local implementation of UN guidelines for prosecutors in cases of crimes against journalists. But such efforts require political will on the part of central governments.

Another way to fight impunity for killing journalists is to step up efforts to investigate cold cases. The project A Safer World for Truth – a collaboration between Free Press Unlimited, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders – is currently carrying out such investigations. New discoveries can sometimes lead to the reopening of these files. For example, an investigation into the murder of Pakistani journalist Zubair Mujahid led the family – along with lawyers – to file a petition with the Sindh High Court to reopen the investigation.

National leaders who attack independent media – such as former US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin – are attracting attention. But, as journalists at risk everywhere will confirm, the local struggle for press freedom and democracy is just as important.

Jose Midas Bartman
Jos Midas Bartman is research coordinator for A Safer World for the Truth at Free Press Unlimited. — Ed.

(Project Syndicate)

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)

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Calls for accountability, fears for press freedom following the murder of journalist Shireen Abu Aqla https://thebackwaterspress.org/calls-for-accountability-fears-for-press-freedom-following-the-murder-of-journalist-shireen-abu-aqla/ Sun, 22 May 2022 00:45:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/calls-for-accountability-fears-for-press-freedom-following-the-murder-of-journalist-shireen-abu-aqla/ Israel’s decision not to pursue a criminal investigation into the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqla has raised growing concerns about the safety of media covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli media reports Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post said this week that the Criminal Investigations Division of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Military Police had […]]]>
Israel’s decision not to pursue a criminal investigation into the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqla has raised growing concerns about the safety of media covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli media reports Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post said this week that the Criminal Investigations Division of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Military Police had ruled out an investigation into Abu Aqla’s murder.
According to Ha’aretzthe main reason given for stopping before an inquest is that there is no suspicion of criminal activity involved in his death.
the veteran AlJazeera journalist and American citizen, 51 years old, .
During the raid Abu Aqla was shot in the head while wearing a press vest and helmet.
Numerous eyewitnesses, including colleagues of Abu Aqla, claim that the journalist was killed by Israeli snipers firing live ammunition in the area where she was standing.
AlJazeera accused the Israeli army of murdering Abu Aqla “in cold blood” in a statement issued shortly after Abu Aqla was pronounced dead in hospital.

The Israeli government has denied this, saying there were several Palestinian gunmen firing at the same location who could “probably” be responsible for Abu Aqla’s death.

READ MORE

In an interim investigation, the IDF said it was not possible to deduce whether Palestinian or Israeli fire was responsible for Abu Aqla’s death.
The United Nations Security Council and the United States government have .
“Members of the Security Council strongly condemn the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the wounding of another journalist in the Palestinian city of Jenin on May 11, 2022,” the UNSC president said in a statement. May 13.
Members of the Security Council called for “an immediate, thorough, transparent, fair and impartial investigation into his assassination, and stressed the need to ensure accountability”.

SBS News has reached out to Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Amir Maimon for comment.

Israel accused of ‘systematic targeting of journalists’

In April, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) filed petitions with the International Criminal Court against the “systematic targeting of journalists” covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to the IFJ, 46 journalists have been killed by Israeli authorities since 2000.
Professor of international law at the University of Sydney Ben Saul stressed the importance of an independent investigation into the death of Abu Aqla.
“International human rights law requires that whenever someone is killed in a law enforcement incident … there is an obligation for Israel to conduct an independent and impartial investigation to determine responsibility for this dead,” Professor Saul said.
“You have to make sure the nature of the investigation is strong enough.”
The number of journalists killed while covering the conflict is “obviously quite high”, Prof Saul said.
“I think it’s fair to say that Israel is simply not taking seriously its international legal obligation to ensure accountability where alleged killings by Israel occur.”
A mural of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Gaza, Palestine - May 12, 2022

Two Palestinian girls walk past a mural depicting Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla in Gaza City. Source: AAP / SOPA Images

Lecturer from the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, Anas Iqtait, expressed concern over whether anyone will be held responsible for Abu Aqla’s murder.

“Obligations under international law, as an occupying power, mean that Israel is responsible for the safety and security of the property of the people it occupies – this includes journalists,” he said.

Dr Iqtait said Abu Aqla’s murder was “an example of cultural impunity” that exists in Israel.

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In May 2021, Israeli forces demolished the skyscraper where the Associated Press was based in the Gaza Strip, along with the offices of Al Jazeera.
“I am shocked and horrified that the Israeli military is targeting and destroying the building housing the PA office and other news outlets in Gaza,” Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt said.

The IDF said the building was targeted because it understood Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist political group with a militant wing, was hiding military intelligence there.

READ MORE

The lack of responsibility “an absolute parody”

Director of the Journalists Freedom Alliance and Macquarie University journalism professor Peter Greste said there must be no impunity for the killing of journalists.
“Every time a journalist is killed, there must be accountability,” he said.
According to Professor Greste, the murderers of nine out of ten journalists go unpunished.
He said the stat “is an absolute travesty”.
“The fact that we have seen so many Palestinian journalists killed in the occupied territories shows a degree of negligence and… the degree of willful neglect or the will to seek justice,” he said.
Due to disputed claims by Palestinian and Israeli authorities, all experts interviewed by SBS News believe it is essential that an independent investigation into Abu Aqla’s death be conducted.
Professor Greste hailed the IFJ’s submissions to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek justice for journalists, including Abu Aqla, whose death has not been adequately investigated.
“If no one else is willing or able to hold the perpetrators of these murders accountable, then I think the ICJ is right to go to the ICC.”
In a statement released last week, the IDF said in its initial investigation that it was unclear who was responsible for his death.
“The initial investigation has concluded that it is not possible to unequivocally determine the source of the shots that hit and killed Ms. Abu Akleh,” the statement said.
“The IDF expresses its deep condolences on the passing of Shireen Abu Akleh, attaches great importance to the preservation of press freedom and will continue to act to guarantee it.”
The Israeli government offered to launch a joint investigation into who and what was responsible for his death with the Palestinian Authority (PA), but the offer was refused.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at a public commemoration for Abu Aqla that he would refuse to jointly participate in an investigation with Israeli authorities because he does not trust them.

Porter arrested by Israeli police

Israel confirmed on Thursday that it had arrested one of Abu Aqla’s carriers, .
Civilians carrying a coffin are charged by the police

Israeli forces intervene at the home of Palestinians carrying the coffin of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla. Source: Anadolu / Anadolu Agency

In a scene that sparked international outrage, baton-wielding Israeli police beat several pallbearers as they carried Abu Aqla’s coffin out of an East Jerusalem hospital last Friday.

A lawyer for the bearer Amro Abu Khudeir said his client was arrested and questioned about his role at the funeral.
According to lawyer Khaldoun Najm, Israel also claimed to have “a secret file on [Khudeir’s] membership in a terrorist organization.
“I think they will arrest more young men who attended the funeral,” Mr Najm said.
“For them, the subject of the funeral and the coffin was outrageous.”
Police have denied any link between the funeral and Mr Khudeir’s arrest.
“We are witnessing an attempt to produce a plot that is fundamentally incorrect,” they said in a statement.
“The suspect was arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation which, contrary to allegations, had nothing to do with his participation in the funeral procession.”
Police justifications for the raid at St. Joseph’s Hospital have varied.
Israeli police, in an apparent attempt to prevent mourners from moving on foot rather than taking the coffin by car, burst through the courtyard gates and charged into the crowd, some beating the pallbearers with truncheons and kicking them.
They cited the need to stamp out “nationalist” chants and also said “rioters” among mourners were throwing projectiles at officers.
Abu Aqla was widely respected for her coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for three decades, and was a household name among those who watched AlJazeeraTV-news.

With AFP.

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Indonesian press freedom still on edge, especially in Papua, observers say – Society https://thebackwaterspress.org/indonesian-press-freedom-still-on-edge-especially-in-papua-observers-say-society/ Fri, 20 May 2022 04:59:10 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/indonesian-press-freedom-still-on-edge-especially-in-papua-observers-say-society/ A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil (The Jakarta Post) PRIME Jakarta ● Fri 20 May 2022 Journalists are caught in a whirlwind of proliferating fake news on social media and threats to their own safety and work, showing that press freedom remains precarious, especially in the Papua region, according to observers. Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) President […]]]>

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil (The Jakarta Post)

PRIME

Jakarta ●
Fri 20 May 2022

Journalists are caught in a whirlwind of proliferating fake news on social media and threats to their own safety and work, showing that press freedom remains precarious, especially in the Papua region, according to observers.

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) President Sasmito Madrim noted that press freedom in Indonesia has declined further this year, citing the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index which ranked Indonesia 117th out of 180 countries surveyed in 2022, up from 113 in the previous year. The country was ranked 119 in 2020 and 124 in 2019.

He said press freedom rankings such as the RSF used several indicators ranging from politics to the safety of journalists, the latter also lacking, with the AJI recording 43 cases of violence against journalists in 2021.

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British Columbia high school journalists advocate for student press freedom bill that is a first in Canada https://thebackwaterspress.org/british-columbia-high-school-journalists-advocate-for-student-press-freedom-bill-that-is-a-first-in-canada/ Tue, 17 May 2022 12:00:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/british-columbia-high-school-journalists-advocate-for-student-press-freedom-bill-that-is-a-first-in-canada/ Jessica Kim and Spencer Izen with The Griffins’ Nest newspapers, at Vanpress Printers in Burnaby, BC, on May 5. Students at Eric Hamber High School wrote the Student Press Freedom Act.JENNIFER GAUTHIER/The Globe and Mail A student newspaper at Eric Hamber High School was set to publish a new issue last year featuring an editorial […]]]>

Jessica Kim and Spencer Izen with The Griffins’ Nest newspapers, at Vanpress Printers in Burnaby, BC, on May 5. Students at Eric Hamber High School wrote the Student Press Freedom Act.JENNIFER GAUTHIER/The Globe and Mail

A student newspaper at Eric Hamber High School was set to publish a new issue last year featuring an editorial criticizing the lack of consultation in the Vancouver school board’s decision-making processes.

“It is often unclear when, if and how the VSB uses student and teacher feedback to create policy. There needs to be greater transparency about the direct correlation between student and teacher voice and board action,” reads the May 2021 editorial from the Griffin’s Nest.

But when Nest editor Spencer Izen passed by an Eric Hamber administrator’s office, customarily informing him that the pre-printed copy was ready for review, the teenager was asked if the he article contained something controversial and was told that the issue required the director’s opinion. “blessing.” The administrator was apparently made aware of the issue after the VSB forwarded Mr Izen’s request for comment to Eric Hamber.

Mr. Izen, who is passionate about constitutional law and media law, saw the exchange as a threat to his freedom of speech as defined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He and Jessica Kim, the newspaper’s editor, hopped on the SkyTrain after school that day and headed to the BC Civil Liberties Association office. Their trip marked the start of a year of advocacy to provide student journalists with the same protections given to other journalists, culminating in a student press freedom bill, the first of its kind in Canada.

“Young people in our society don’t have many rights, they are infantilized,” said BCCLA policy director Meghan McDermott, who demanded that Eric Hamber and the VSB recognize student rights.

In the meantime, the Nest continued to harass the VSB with critical coverage. When Mr. Izen, 18, became editor of the Nest in September 2020, he wanted to steer the publication in a more challenging direction.

“I started to realize that… there’s a lot more critical coverage that we could do. And one of the greatest tenets of journalism is to just ask questions until you get an answer,” he said.

Coverage of The Nest in recent months includes reports of parents’ concerns over VSB’s decision to end a full-time program for gifted elementary students next year, prompting the board to return on his plan; And one open letter this month, mocking the board’s proposed new rules for extracurricular activities and social media guidelines.

But the censorship complaints began with an editorial on disinformation in December 2020. According to Mr. Izen, school administrators expressed concern when the article called QAnon fake and called it a conspiracy theory.

Eric Hamber’s manager, Marea P. Jensen, did not respond to The Globe and Mail’s requests for comment on the nest, instead referring questions to the VSB. The board said in an unattributed email statement that neither the school nor the district censored articles written by The Griffins’ Nest and that the articles in question were published.

The VSB said it forwarded the student media request to school administrators, as is standard practice for all requests. School administrators had questions and concerns about the content of the May 2021 article and wanted time to properly review it, the VSB said.

The VSB statement indicates that the Nest is an extracurricular student club and as such there must be a sponsoring teacher to maintain oversight, provide operational and business feedback and ensure the code of conduct of the school and the district is followed.

“The District agrees that students have the right and freedom to express themselves in schools, as set forth in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the statement said.

The newspaper also challenged new changes to the provincial freedom of information and protection of privacy law, which require a $10 fee to submit a freedom of information (FOI) request. . The Nest reporters asked the district to waive the fee but were denied; the VSB said fees were applied due to the significant human resources required to produce documents for the application. Students took to Twitter on Twitter in April, arguing that students should be able to access the FOI process for free.

They won support from some members of the public, receiving nearly $2,000 in donations to support their journalism. Additionally, they were mentioned in the BC Legislative Assembly in April, when Liberal MLA Bruce Banman called on the provincial government to consider including student media in the fee waiver.

But the Nest reporters believe their rights can only be protected if they are spelled out in law – a belief underscored when they were denied access to a school board public dialogue session a few weeks ago . The VSB said it wanted to create a safe space for all attendees to share their thoughts and decided not to allow any media to attend the events.

Seeking Legal Protection, the students spent approximately eight months researching, writing and taking advice from lawyers, attorneys and legal aid reporters to write a four-page draft of the law on freedom of the student press for British Columbia. The bill, which has yet to ask a provincial politician to introduce it in the Legislative Assembly, aims to end unfair censorship of student media, ensure the protection of their confidential sources and provide them with a forum to access justice.

The law has been endorsed by several student organizations and media, including the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the US-based Student Press Law Center.

To advance their case, Mr. Izen and Ms. Kim, 18, met with Attorney General David Eby last month.

“My ministry believes in the importance of a free and robust Fourth Estate, including at the secondary level,” Mr. Eby said in a statement without committing to passing the bill.

The Attorney General’s office is also coordinating a meeting between Nest students and the province’s ombudsman to discuss the challenges facing student journalists in British Columbia and how they can work together to address them.

Ms Kim said students are aware there is a “power imbalance” between them and the school district and Eric Hamber’s administration. Their articles critical of the council have also worried some of their parents, who fear it will jeopardize the future of these students.

But the teenagers have not been intimidated and have no plans to back down: Mr Izen, for example, said he had turned down his offer to go to Harvard University next year in order to continue advocating. for passing the bill he helped draft. .

“There’s a lot of work to do in Canada,” he says.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our British Columbia and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada confronted with. register today.

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Fiji named worst Pacific nation for press freedom and open civic space https://thebackwaterspress.org/fiji-named-worst-pacific-nation-for-press-freedom-and-open-civic-space/ Mon, 16 May 2022 04:47:57 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/fiji-named-worst-pacific-nation-for-press-freedom-and-open-civic-space/ The 2022 world press freedom index called Fiji the worst country in the Pacific for journalists, with intimidation and other restrictions threatening open civic space in the country. Reporters Without Bordersthe global press freedom watchdog behind the index, says journalists are often intimidated or even jailed when they overly criticize the government or try to […]]]>

The 2022 world press freedom index called Fiji the worst country in the Pacific for journalists, with intimidation and other restrictions threatening open civic space in the country.

Reporters Without Bordersthe global press freedom watchdog behind the index, says journalists are often intimidated or even jailed when they overly criticize the government or try to hold leaders accountable by ensuring that they keep their promises.

The nation ranked 102nd out of 180 counties.

“Journalists [in Fiji] risk of heavy fines or imprisonment for publishing material “contrary to the public or national interest”, a term ill-defined in the law”, the index explains. “In this context, many journalists have to think twice before publishing content critical of the authorities.

The use of discriminatory advertising practices by Fijian authorities was also highlighted.

The index found that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fijian leaders withheld ads of fiji times. The newspaper was also banned from distributing in various parts of the country “because the government argued that ‘the press is not an essential service'”.

Upholding the right of everyone – including the media – to speak freely without fear of reprisal or violence is key to inclusive democracies, good governance and sustainable development, and is seen as the antidote to authoritarianism .

According to the UN, the media play an important role in the public’s understanding of economic, social and environmental issues: the three pillars of sustainable development. Furthermore, the organization explains that a free and open press offers the most vulnerable people crucial opportunities to have their voices heard and to share their thoughts and opinions.

“The media plays a central role in informing the public about world, national and local events and is a powerful medium for shaping opinion and policy”, the UN added. “Changes in national policies often come after a sustained media campaign raising public awareness and provoking national debates.”

The United Nations agency for UNESCO, for its part, sites a “strong positive correlation” between free speech and rising incomes, lower infant mortality rates and increased adult literacy. Borgen Magazinelikewise, reveals that history has long proven that the corrosion of democracy exacerbates problems such as food insecurity, violence and poverty.

Just under a third of Fiji’s population lives below the poverty line.

The latest poverty figures reveal the country has indeed seen poverty gradually increase over the last half-decade, from 28.1% in 2013 and 2014 to 29.9% in 2019 and 2020.

North Korea came last in this year’s index, followed by Eritrea, Iran and Turkemnistan.

Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region categorized as “problem”, “difficult” and “very serious” include Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Laos, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and Burma.

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Freedom of the press is essential for the development of democracy, says Obaseki https://thebackwaterspress.org/freedom-of-the-press-is-essential-for-the-development-of-democracy-says-obaseki/ Sat, 14 May 2022 11:52:14 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/freedom-of-the-press-is-essential-for-the-development-of-democracy-says-obaseki/ Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said freedom of the press and freedom of speech are essential for the development of democracy, noting that the state government has suppressed sedition of the new state criminal law. Obaseki, who was represented by Communication and Orientation Commissioner Adaze Enwanta, spoke on Friday at the official opening of Super […]]]>

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said freedom of the press and freedom of speech are essential for the development of democracy, noting that the state government has suppressed sedition of the new state criminal law.

Obaseki, who was represented by Communication and Orientation Commissioner Adaze Enwanta, spoke on Friday at the official opening of Super FM in Benin.

He said it was clear that people listen to radio and TV stations to find out what the government is doing because the government is closest to them.

The governor said: “For us as a government, democratic freedoms are the most important part of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

“It is clear that people listen to radio and television stations because they want to know what the government is doing.

“So, in order to respect the opinion of the people, we have taken deliberate measures.

“Just recently, the Edo State Executive Council reviewed the new criminal law and we repealed the sedition provision to allow freedom of speech so that the journalist can express his opinions through reporting without fear or aggression.

“Journalists occupy a very important place in our society. You also have a duty to the public and I have to commend Super FM because that’s exactly what you do.

“The state government will work with your station and I hope we get our own broadcast regulator as stipulated in the constitution to regulate what you do instead of being tied to the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation .”

The station’s general manager, Yemi Akinwunmi, said the company’s mission and vision statements aim to improve the individual and society.

She added, “As Super FM continues to grow with new branches popping up across the country, we have one consistent mission and vision statements. Our corporate mission and vision statements reflect the betterment of the individual and the whole of human society.

“Rightly, our corporate objective is impact and profitability. Thus, Super 88.1 FM, Benin City, through our strategic, engaging and professionally delivered content, will vigorously and diligently implement our mission and decision statements with the utmost respect for government, regulations, the corporate sector and the good people of Edo State will pursue our corporate goals.

“I hereby appeal for the support and understanding of all key stakeholders, just as we also pledge to play our part in building an equal society.”

Copyright PUNCH.

All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written permission of PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

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Pakistan drops 12 points in 2022 World Press Freedom Index Global Voices Français https://thebackwaterspress.org/pakistan-drops-12-points-in-2022-world-press-freedom-index-global-voices-francais/ Thu, 12 May 2022 09:00:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/pakistan-drops-12-points-in-2022-world-press-freedom-index-global-voices-francais/ Screenshot of the cover page of the Freedom Network’s 2021-2022 State of Press Freedom Annual Report. Fair use. On the occasion of world press freedom dayindependent media and civil liberties organization based in Pakistan Freedom Network released a report which revealed that journalists in Pakistan were mainly targeted by state actors over the past year […]]]>

Screenshot of the cover page of the Freedom Network’s 2021-2022 State of Press Freedom Annual Report. Fair use.

On the occasion of world press freedom dayindependent media and civil liberties organization based in Pakistan Freedom Network released a report which revealed that journalists in Pakistan were mainly targeted by state actors over the past year (May 2021 to April 2022) during the Imran Khan government, resulting in violence, prosecution, kidnapping, detention and threats. Pakistan also recorded a sharp decline of 12 points in World Press Freedom Index 2022.

According to the report, 86 cases of attacks on journalists across Pakistan. The highest number of attacks – 32 – were checked in in the territory of the capital, Islamabad; Sindh Province comes second with 23 attacks against journalists.

The report also mentions the highest number of attacks were carried out on the houses of journalists, while two journalists were killed.

The report also listing that state actors and officials targeted journalists the most in Pakistan – 35 cases. most targeted media was television (39 cases), followed by the written press (35 cases).

Sharp drop in the World Press Freedom Index

According to 2o22 World Press Freedom Index report, Pakistan dropped 12 points in the index, falling from a rank of 145 in 2021 to 157 in 2022.

Writer Madiha Afzal documents how Pakistan and a number of South Asian countries rank at the bottom of the press freedom list.

Many social media outlets have highlighted this decline in press freedom in Pakistan.

Journalist Waleed Tariq highlighted the decline:

Motivational speaker Shafique Khan tweeted:

The new prime minister Shehbaz Sharif also condemned Imran Khan’s legacy on Twitter:

The reports are contrary to what former Prime Minister Imran Khan said in his speeches regarding the free press. In one of his statements in September 2021, he said, “The media enjoyed ‘more freedom than ever’ under the PTI government.” In another statement on March 1, 2022, he accused a section of the media that criticized his policies of having hand in hand with the mafiaindirectly pointing to other political parties.

However, during Imran Khan’s tenure, female journalists were harassed, threatened and subjected to severe online abuse. In 2020, some female journalists also meet Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party and former Chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights Bilawal Bhuto register their complaint.

Archen Baloch, a journalist from Balochistan tweeted:

You can download the Pakistan Press Freedom Report 2021-2022 by Freedom Network from here.

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Hawaii’s student journalists are on the verge of securing press freedom guarantees https://thebackwaterspress.org/hawaiis-student-journalists-are-on-the-verge-of-securing-press-freedom-guarantees/ Tue, 10 May 2022 10:01:53 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/hawaiis-student-journalists-are-on-the-verge-of-securing-press-freedom-guarantees/ Nyler Acasio, a junior at McKinley High School, is ready to “investigate and report the truth” without fear after the Legislature passed a bill offering new censorship protections to student journalists and their advisers. The measure allows student journalists at the University of Hawaii and other public schools to exercise the First Amendment, which guarantees […]]]>

Nyler Acasio, a junior at McKinley High School, is ready to “investigate and report the truth” without fear after the Legislature passed a bill offering new censorship protections to student journalists and their advisers.

The measure allows student journalists at the University of Hawaii and other public schools to exercise the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression, in their school newspapers, except for libelous or obscene material .

House Bill 1848 is a signature far from becoming lawa victory for lawyers after some three years of legislative efforts.

“You want students to think and be critical and express that in their reporting,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki, who introduced the bill this year. “That’s why this bill is so important because students are being trained to become journalists.”

A bill to provide more First Amendment protections to student journalists is awaiting the governor’s approval. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The bill met with no opposition.

If the bill becomes law, Hawaii would become the 16th state to join the “New Voices Movementa grassroots, student-led effort to protect student journalists from censorship and counselors from consequences.

Students generally enjoy First Amendment protections, but the 1988 decision to the United States Supreme Court in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier gave school administrators the right to censor student postings for “any reasonably legitimate educational purpose.”

Hawaiian legislation would close that gap, according to Cindy Reves, an adviser to McKinley High’s The Pinion newspaper. She said the measure clarified the rights and responsibilities of student journalists, their advisers and administrators.

Reves said Gov. David Ige plans to hold a May 23 signing ceremony at McKinley High.

Ige’s office declined to confirm that, saying any measures passed by the Legislature, which adjourned on Thursday, are subject to legal, policy and departmental scrutiny.

“Some bill signing ceremonies are in the preliminary planning stages, but the bills still have to pass the review before the governor signs them,” spokeswoman Jodi Leong said.

The legislation outlines the need for student journalists in Hawaii to sue or publish stories in their school newspapers in an effort to promote transparency within school communities.

But it’s common for young journalists to refrain from pursuing potentially controversial stories for fear of backlash against themselves or their advisers.

In an example provided in written testimony for BillAlyssa Salcedo, a student at Waipahu High School, editor of The Cane Tassel, decided not to write an article that would have criticized a school program because of “potential censorship”.

“I learned that publishing an article on this subject would depend on the content of the article,” Salcedo wrote. “I felt discouraged to continue and instead wrote about a somewhat related topic. It continually seemed that no matter how much I talked about this topic, my criticisms would not be well received.

Krista Rados, a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said she witnessed the censorship firsthand at the student newspaper Ka Leo O Hawaii. The editor said the university pressured the newspaper to publish “a story that we didn’t think was fair”.

“Our journalists have come to me with the idea that they should refrain from telling true stories that could threaten the reputation of the university because they fear losing enrollment status or scholarship funding,” Rados said in written testimony.

Education officials noted that the State Board of Education already has a student code of conduct recognizing that public students have “freedom of speech and communication” and the “right of expression in official school-sponsored student publications.”

Reves and his students have been pushing for the measure for three years in a bid to join the national movement. Past efforts failed after the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the economy in March 2020, prompting state lawmakers to shift their priorities.

Acasio, who freelances for The Pinion, said the new law will encourage him and other students to express themselves fully and “serve our community”.

“Being part of the media is about investigating the truth and reporting it, and if we’re censored just for doing that, it’s just plain wrong,” Acasio said in an interview. “So the fact that this bill gives us the guarantee that we won’t be censored is really important. It is important that we serve our community.

McKinley High sophomore Shane Kaneshiro has been write for The Pinion during two years. Although he is unsure if he will pursue a career in journalism, he said the experience has taught him to be more informed and to “tell both sides of the story”.

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‘No guardrails’: Social media threatens press freedom, says Nobel Peace Laureate Maria Ressa https://thebackwaterspress.org/no-guardrails-social-media-threatens-press-freedom-says-nobel-peace-laureate-maria-ressa/ Mon, 09 May 2022 01:00:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/no-guardrails-social-media-threatens-press-freedom-says-nobel-peace-laureate-maria-ressa/ By Nina Larson According to Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, the rise of social media has allowed dangerous propaganda to flourish and has left professional journalists under constant threat of attack. Maria Ressa. Photo: World Economic Forum via Flickr. The situation for media workers around the world is currently “bleak”, Ressa […]]]>

By Nina Larson

According to Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, the rise of social media has allowed dangerous propaganda to flourish and has left professional journalists under constant threat of attack.

Maria Ressa. Photo: World Economic Forum via Flickr.

The situation for media workers around the world is currently “bleak”, Ressa told AFP in an interview, saying much of the blame lies with the radical change in the way information is distributed.

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