free press – The Backwaters Press http://thebackwaterspress.org/ Sat, 26 Mar 2022 06:41:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://thebackwaterspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-34.png free press – The Backwaters Press http://thebackwaterspress.org/ 32 32 Press freedom watchdog flags safety concerns over Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sources https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-watchdog-flags-safety-concerns-over-daphne-caruana-galizias-sources/ Wed, 09 Mar 2022 11:05:36 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-watchdog-flags-safety-concerns-over-daphne-caruana-galizias-sources/ News A photo of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is kept at the monthly vigil to mark her murder on the 16th of each month. Photo: Joanna Demarco. European press freedom watchdog Mapping Media Freedom (MAPMF) has recorded a new breach in Malta, this time in connection with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech’s attempt to access […]]]>

European press freedom watchdog Mapping Media Freedom (MAPMF) has recorded a new breach in Malta, this time in connection with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech’s attempt to access the phone of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galicia.

Fenech, accused of orchestrating and financing the assassination of Caruana Galizia, asked the court in February for a copy of Caruana Galizia’s phone data – a decision that has been recognized as a “legal incident” and a “violation of anonymity” by the watchdog. The attempt raised concerns about the protection of Caruana Galizia’s sources.

“If the court decides that the defense has access to the complete and unredacted data, it will expose the identities of the sources, also putting them at risk of harm and legal action,” the incident report said.

The phone is part of the evidence collected as part of the investigations into the murder of Caruana Galizia and is presented as evidence in the criminal proceedings against the accused. The accused has the right, under the law, to access all the evidence presented.

“While the journalist was working on sensitive investigations, communicating with sources using her mobile phone and likely receiving data and information through her phone, there is a high risk of exposure to sources and source material. if the defendant has access to the full data,” the report said.

The data is likely to include names and numbers, documents, photographs, contacts and other types of data files that “may identify sources”.

The incident report also notes that Electrogas, of which Fenech was one of the directors, had already asked the police to investigate a data leak within the company, on which “a masterful investigation is said to be underway to identify this source.

Concern prevails despite Attorney General’s statement in court

Following the request of the accused and after an alert was raised by Caruana Galizia’s lawyer with the Attorney General, the AG’s office told the court that, although there is no intention to deny the accused access to any part of the evidence, he asks the court to hand over the data in its entirety except for data that exposes the identity of the sources and other sensitive data related to the sources .

However, the incident report explains that data anonymization may not, by itself, be able to protect sources from identification and “ensuring full protection of sources is very difficult if data is granted to the ‘accused without the necessary safeguards’.

Even partial data or data traces could be combined with other information or data not necessarily related to the same device “to create an information picture through puzzle identification that could put the source at risk,” says- he, adding that for such a task to be performed, it is likely that a court-appointed expert would need to know the identity of the sources.

“Without in-depth knowledge of Daphne’s modus operandi, scope of research, lines of inquiry, network of contacts and network of sources, there is a risk that information that could be used to identify a source or traced back to a suspicious source, will be handed over to the accused, putting not only the identity of the source or sources at risk, but perhaps their lives as well”.

This latest episode is the fifth threat recorded by the platform in 2022, despite Prime Minister Robert Abela’s assurances to international press freedom NGOs last October on his commitment to ensuring the safety of journalists.

]]>
40 press freedom and human rights organizations write to LG Delhi demanding release of Kashmiri journalist https://thebackwaterspress.org/40-press-freedom-and-human-rights-organizations-write-to-lg-delhi-demanding-release-of-kashmiri-journalist/ Sat, 12 Feb 2022 12:34:30 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/40-press-freedom-and-human-rights-organizations-write-to-lg-delhi-demanding-release-of-kashmiri-journalist/ New Delhi: At least 40 press freedom organizations, human rights organizations and publications wrote to Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday urging him to intervene to free the journalist Kashmiri Fahad Shah. Shah had been arrested on February 4 for allegedly “glorifying terrorist activities and “inciting the public”, with Kashmir police adding […]]]>

New Delhi: At least 40 press freedom organizations, human rights organizations and publications wrote to Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday urging him to intervene to free the journalist Kashmiri Fahad Shah.

Shah had been arrested on February 4 for allegedly “glorifying terrorist activities and “inciting the public”, with Kashmir police adding that the journalist had been named in two previous cases.

The joint letter comes less than a week after the Indian Publishers Guild condemned the Kashmir police for arresting Shah and lamented that “the space for media freedom has gradually eroded in Kashmir”.

“[Fahad Shah’s] reporting on events in Jammu and Kashmir is a public service, not a crime, and should be protected by Indian law,” the letter reads, referring to Shah as “a journalist of high integrity.”

The letter also urged Lieutenant Governor Sinha to release other Kashmir journalists who had been detained”under anti-terrorism or preventive detention laws”like Sajad Gul, Aasif Sultan and Manan Gul.

Read the full letter here:

Dear Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha,

We, the undersigned #XX press freedom organisations, human rights organizations and publications are writing to request your urgent intervention to secure the immediate release of Fahad Shah, editor of the online news portal The Walla of Kashmirprison, and the withdrawal of all police investigations opened into his work as a journalist.

On February 4, the authorities stopped Shah at Pulwama police station, where he had been summoned earlier in the day for questioning. The First Information Report indicates that Shah is being investigated for alleged sedition and for making statements causing public disorder and unlawful activity under the Anti-Terrorism Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Prior to his arrest, the police had interrogates Shah regarding The Walla of Kashmircoverage of a shootout between government forces and militants.

Shah is well known to many in South Asia and around the world as a journalist of high integrity. His writing for The nation the magazine was recognized at the 2021 Human Rights Press Awards. His reporting on events in Jammu and Kashmir is a public service, not a crime, and should be protected by Indian law.

We also urge you to arrange for the immediate release of the other detained Kashmiri journalists – Sajad Gul, Asif Sultanand Manan Gular Dar – who, like Shah, have been imprisoned under anti-terrorism laws or pre-trial detention in apparent retaliation for their work.

Since the abrogation of political autonomy in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, freedom and press rights groups have documented numerous incidents of detentions and threats to journalists in the region. In view of this, the release of Fahad Shah and other arbitrarily detained journalists is a crucial step to prevent further criminalization of the profession in Jammu and Kashmir.

We urge you to ensure that the authorities drop their retaliatory investigations against the four journalists, drop all unwarranted charges against them, and allow members of the Kashmiri press to work freely without facing detention, harassment and other forms of government retaliation.

Sign:

Ambedkar International Center

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Channel

Boston South Asian Coalition (BSAC)

Committee Against Attacks on Journalists (CAAJ)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

People’s Coalition COVID-19

Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

Digipub News India Foundation

Freedom of Expression Collective

Unlimited free press

Forum Against Women’s Oppression, Mumbai

The London Story Foundation

Global South against xenophobia

Hindus for Human Rights

Human Rights Network

Human Rights Watch

The Humanism Project

Indo-American Muslim Council

Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ)

Indian Journalists Union (IJU)

Insider, Inc.

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

International Press Institute

International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India (InSAF India)

Kashmiri Journalists Federation (JFK)

Justice for All, Canada

Justice for All, USA

The nation

Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI)

Overseas Press Club of America

PEN America

People Against Apartheid and Fascism (PAAF)

Program Against Torture and Impunity in Detention (PACTI)

India Press Club

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Sikh Human Rights Group

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South Asia Solidarity Group

Turbine bag


Read also : Editors Guild denounces arrest of Fahad Shah, says media freedom has been ‘gradually eroded’ in Kashmir


]]>
Malta. Press freedom groups worry about unprecedented restrictions on freedom of information https://thebackwaterspress.org/malta-press-freedom-groups-worry-about-unprecedented-restrictions-on-freedom-of-information/ Mon, 07 Feb 2022 14:56:42 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/malta-press-freedom-groups-worry-about-unprecedented-restrictions-on-freedom-of-information/ The undersigned international media freedom organizations today express their growing concern at the challenges the Maltese media face in accessing public information through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. The unprecedented appeals by some 30 ministries and government entities against a decision by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner ordering the disclosure of public spending […]]]>

The undersigned international media freedom organizations today express their growing concern at the challenges the Maltese media face in accessing public information through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. The unprecedented appeals by some 30 ministries and government entities against a decision by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner ordering the disclosure of public spending information requested by The Shift News are emblematic of these challenges.

Calls come from Freedom of Information Requests which the publisher of The Shift sent to various public bodies seeking documentation of possible contracts and payments made by public entities to Malta Today co-owner Savior Balzan and his business entities. The Shift stressed that the information was in the public interest because it concerned the use of public money. However, these requests were denied by several entities, who argued that the requested information did not exist in the form of standard documentation.

After the newspaper appealed, a review by the Data Commissioner rejected that argument and ordered the documents released. One by one, around 30 different ministries and public authorities have since filed identical appeals, arguing that the demands placed an undue burden on state departments. These ongoing coordinated challenges at the Appeals Tribunal will result in costly and time-consuming legal battles for the newspaper, which will be both financially and psychologically draining. Already the point of sale has been forced to turn to a crowdfunding campaign to finance his legal case.

This case concerns a simple principle that affects all media in Malta: the right to access information held by the public about how taxpayers’ money is used. It is a fundamental right essential to the functioning of democracy. The coordinated refusal of the Maltese authorities to comply with the Data Commissioner’s finding that there is a clear public interest justification for the information disclosed is of serious concern. It has serious implications for transparency and media freedom and sets a precedent that undermines the ability of all media in Malta to do their job. Moreover, the transparency of Savior Balzan’s relations with the government is of greater importance for press freedom in Malta: he is one of the seven members of the Committee of Experts who will oversee the implementation of the recommendations. from the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Although the collection of documents by the ministries can be cumbersome, this is not a sufficient reason to refuse the disclosure of information of public interest. We therefore urge relevant public bodies to respect the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and the decision of the Data Protection Commissioner, drop their appeals and provide the requested documents in a timely manner.

Worryingly, the current experience of Shift illustrates a much broader problem with access to information in Malta. Public bodies routinely deny freedom of information requests from the media on arbitrary grounds. Responses are often delayed until the last possible minute and often followed by requests for extensions. When FOI requests are accepted, the information is often incomplete. Meanwhile, regular appeals to the Data Commissioner lead to protracted taxpayer-funded court battles, further compromising the timeliness of reporting. The evidence also suggests that requests for access to information from certain media, or on certain subjects, are treated in a discriminatory manner by certain administrative bodies. Inundated with calls, Malta’s under-resourced data commissioner does not have the capacity to take on all cases.

The result is that instead of fostering a culture of transparency, Malta’s current freedom of information legislation is routinely abused to obstruct requests and obscure the disclosure of public information. Going forward, it is increasingly clear that amendments to the existing law of 2008 are needed. Revisions have already been requested by both the current Data Commissioner and the independent counsel of the Public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Similar concerns have also been expressed by the Venice Commission and the Special Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Our organizations agree that reforms are needed to, firstly, streamline the legal process for access to information appeals and, secondly, remove the right of public authorities to appeal against an order granting the commissioner the right to access a document as part of the commissioner’s decision to decide whether or not it should be released. Adopting such changes would bring significant improvements to the freedom of information system and help support watchdog journalism in Malta. However, in the end, any change in legislation will only be effective if it is complemented by the development of a culture of transparency and accountability in government. Our organizations stand ready to assist in any way possible in the development of these FOI amendments in the years to come.

Sign:

SECTION 19

European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Unlimited Free Press (FPU)

International Press Institute (IPI)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation

]]>
Biden is only carrying on the legacy of ever-deteriorating press freedom through his actions https://thebackwaterspress.org/biden-is-only-carrying-on-the-legacy-of-ever-deteriorating-press-freedom-through-his-actions/ Tue, 25 Jan 2022 15:36:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/biden-is-only-carrying-on-the-legacy-of-ever-deteriorating-press-freedom-through-his-actions/ US President Joe Biden’s latest abusive remarks to a Fox News reporter have sparked controversy and raised questions about his administration’s stance on free speech. In his first year in office, President Biden signed a number of executive orders that are expected to have an impact on free speech. In times to come, it will […]]]>

US President Joe Biden’s latest abusive remarks to a Fox News reporter have sparked controversy and raised questions about his administration’s stance on free speech. In his first year in office, President Biden signed a number of executive orders that are expected to have an impact on free speech. In times to come, it will be clear how the 46th President of the United States will be remembered in terms of defending free speech. But so far, he doesn’t seem to be any different from his predecessor Donald Trump in terms of attacking the media. Restoring respect for a free press was one of many items on President Biden’s to-do list, but it appears the Democratic leader has no intention of completing it.

Gross lack of leadership in supporting democratic values ​​in the United States

Ahead of the 2020 election, Joe Biden had launched a fierce attack on his rival and former President Trump for his continued attack on the media as well as introducing laws restricting a range of freedoms. Earlier under the Trump regime, outgoing US Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out against the treatment of the press.

There has been a distinct lack of leadership in supporting democratic values, such as press freedom and the right to dissent, over the past five years in the United States. First, Trump has repeatedly attacked the press and allied himself with dictators around the world during his reign, and incumbent President Biden’s unacceptable behavior towards the media has raised serious doubts about the support of Democrats for a free press.

President Biden’s ‘stupid ab***h son’ remarks

The latest incident is relevant to Biden’s abusive remarks to a reporter during a White House event on Monday, Jan. 24. President Biden was surprised by a hot microphone after losing his temper during a regular press conference. He called Fox News reporter Peter Doocy “a stupid son of an ab***h” after the latter asked him about the country’s skyrocketing inflation. After Biden finished his prepared speech at the White House rally, several reporters began asking the president questions. Doocy then shouted his question, asking if Biden thinks “inflation will be a political handicap ahead of the midterm elections?” In response to that, Biden said, “That’s a great asset. No more inflation? What a stupid ab**** son.” Video of Biden’s remarks was widely shared on social media platforms, sparking outrage among Americans.

Biden has berated reporters on more than one occasion

It bears mentioning here that this was not the first time President Biden berated reporters for asking questions about topics he disliked. Earlier, Biden had attacked a journalist from FoxNews when she asked about the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. “Why are you waiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the first move?” the reporter asked, to which Biden replied: “What a stupid question,” according to FoxNews. Notably, after taking office as the 46th President of the United States, President Biden had advised his employees to treat their colleagues and members of the press with respect, however, his own actions do not appear to be in line with what he preaches.

120 journalists were arrested or charged in 2020 in the United States

According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, 120 journalists were arrested or criminally charged in 2020, and around 300 were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of the press in the United States. Nevertheless, there are certain limits to freedom of the press in the United States, such as defamation laws, lack of whistleblower protections, barriers to access to information, and constraints caused by public and government hostility towards journalists.

Biden’s popularity as the president begins to wane

It is important to mention here that Biden’s popularity as President of the United States has already started to decline in the country. According to a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 56% of Americans disapproved of Biden’s performance as president. Currently, only 28% of Americans want Biden to run for re-election in 2024, with just 48% of Democrats backing him, the research found.

Image: AP

]]>
Another blow to press freedom in Hong Kong https://thebackwaterspress.org/another-blow-to-press-freedom-in-hong-kong/ Tue, 11 Jan 2022 19:34:23 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/another-blow-to-press-freedom-in-hong-kong/ In Hong Kong, press freedom continues to be eroded as journalists and pro-democracy media platforms are targeted by authorities. Just two days after Boxing Day in December last year, the acting editor of the now-closed pro-democracy digital media platform Standnews, Patrick Lam, was escort by a group of uniformed police officers from his home in […]]]>

In Hong Kong, press freedom continues to be eroded as journalists and pro-democracy media platforms are targeted by authorities.

Just two days after Boxing Day in December last year, the acting editor of the now-closed pro-democracy digital media platform Standnews, Patrick Lam, was escort by a group of uniformed police officers from his home in one of Hong Kong’s residential skyscrapers.

That same morning, six other staff and former board members of the media outlet, known for its critical stance towards the government, were arrested for an alleged plot to publish seditious material. It marked another blow to the deterioration of press freedom in the city, following the forced shutdown of Hong Kong’s largest and oldest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, only four months ago.

Standnews closed its seven-year operation the same day and removed all content from its website and social media.

Standnews editorial has always been independent and dedicated to upholding core Hong Kong values, including democracy, human rights, liberty, rule of law and justice, “media said in a statement. declaration.

Digital media found itself in conflict with government and police after one of its journalists was attack, with other passengers, in July 2019 by men in white shirts at a train station. The offenders said they had to “defend their homes” and “teach the protesters a lesson.” The media has since been praised by pro-democracy protesters and aroused suspicion from the authorities.

The arrests sparked a reaction from Western countries. European Union foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano called the raid “a further deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong” in a statement. Tweeter, while British Minister of State Amanda Milling condemned the arrests, describing them as an act intended to “erode freedom of expression”, in a Tweeter.

One of the arrested board members was singer Denise Ho, who has spoken openly about her anti-government policy stance since 2014. She has lectured at the The United Nations and the American congress in which she urged the international community to punish the Hong Kong government for its suppression of the freedoms of the city’s residents.

Fall like dominoes

Two days after the arrests, New citizens, another pro-democracy online media, announced its closure, citing a “deteriorating media environment”.

“We have loved our city dearly, but now we encounter not only winds and rains, but tornadoes and tsunamis,” the media said in a statement. declaration. “We have never forgotten our initial passion, but the changes of the past two years have led to a deteriorating media environment. We can no longer accomplish our mission without worry.

The shutdown of two pro-democracy media platforms has left already traumatized members of the newspaper industry shuddering in a city that collectively struggles to discern where the red lines lie. Active reporter Peter, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said he was still stunned by the formwork.

“I knew Standnews was the next target after closing Apple Daily“Peter told FairPlanet.Some of the directors resigned just months after this incident, meaning they planned to be terminated. But it still came abruptly, which surprised me. ”

The Hong Kong leader denied that the arrests and closures were linked to press freedom in the city.

“This morning when I read news saying that due to the closure of an online media organization, press freedom in Hong Kong is threatened with extinction or that the free press in Hong Kong is at risk. to collapse, I just couldn’t accept those kinds of allegations, ”Carrie Lam said in a press conference.

“The rule of law in Hong Kong, and journalists and media organizations, like all of us, must respect and comply with the law. If they fear that they will not be able to comply with the law, then they must make up their minds and take the necessary decisions, ”she added.

What counts as seditious?

Ronny Tong, Advisor to Lam’s Administration, noted that the determination of whether the media coverage violates the law or not depends on its intention to “promote the criminal intent of the fugitives”, after denying that the police had called for the raid to muzzle opposition voices.

The city’s chief secretary and former security chief John Lee sent a scathing letter to the Wall Street Journal for its “nasty” editorial on December 31 titled “No one is safe in Hong Kong.”

“If you are truly interested in freedom of the press, you must support actions against people who have illegally exploited the media as a tool to pursue political or personal gain,” Lee was cited as told.

Although Peter is not reporting on politics at the moment, he hopes his colleagues can stay strong and urged others to avoid self-censorship.

“Journalists should continue to do what we have been doing and maintain our professionalism. If we stay strong, others cannot easily destroy us, “he said.” But we will lose our credibility and our confidence once we start to censor ourselves. Doing journalism is always sensitive, even in democracies. We shouldn’t be afraid. “

Image by Andy Leung

]]>
Silencing journalists with targeted attacks, restrictions and censorship in precarious working conditions https://thebackwaterspress.org/silencing-journalists-with-targeted-attacks-restrictions-and-censorship-in-precarious-working-conditions/ Sun, 09 Jan 2022 21:37:20 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/silencing-journalists-with-targeted-attacks-restrictions-and-censorship-in-precarious-working-conditions/ MOGADISHU, Somalia, January 10, 2022 – Somali journalists have once again been subjected to violence and deliberate attacks by security forces from the federal government, regional states and the militant group al-Shabaab. Insecurity, the continuing stalemate in federal elections, and reports of allegations of human rights violations, abuse of power and corruption in government are […]]]>

MOGADISHU, Somalia, January 10, 2022 – Somali journalists have once again been subjected to violence and deliberate attacks by security forces from the federal government, regional states and the militant group al-Shabaab. Insecurity, the continuing stalemate in federal elections, and reports of allegations of human rights violations, abuse of power and corruption in government are the key red line for media professionals in Somalia. Journalists who seek to cover these issues are often victims of arbitrary detention, death threats, harassment and intimidation, and many are forced to self-censor. With the country still in a critical transition period at the end of 2021, the problems have escalated further.

Journalists are taking increased risks across Somalia, including Somaliland. Various forms of violence against journalists have increased dramatically in 2021: from physical assaults, bullying and harassment, to targeted cyberbullying, we are now seeing a number of tactics being used to silence critical voices and freedom of expression. ‘expression. With the culture of impunity prevalent for perpetrators of crimes against journalists, this is one of the most serious challenges facing media freedom in Somalia. Sadly, self-censorship or abandoning the profession has now become the only survival option for journalists in Somalia.

Two journalists were murdered in the country in 2021 and three others were seriously injured – two of them with gunshots. 65 journalists were arbitrarily detained and seven press houses searched. The majority of these violations were perpetrated by state security forces such as the National Security and Intelligence Agency (NISA), Turkish Haramcad Police, regional state security officers in Puntland, Galmudug, South West and HirShabelle. Attacks on the free press have increased in Somaliland, where 12 journalists were arbitrarily arrested during the year. Al-Shabaab took credit for the deaths of the two journalists murdered in Galkayo and Mogadishu, while government security forces shot and injured two journalists on duty.

Threats and attacks from government officials, individuals and al-Shabaab are almost daily. Somalia still retains its unenviable title of being among the most dangerous countries to practice journalism in the world. For the seventh year in a row, Somalia has maintained ignominy world title for impunity against crimes against journalists as journalist killers roam free.

Journalists’ access to information is extremely limited across the country. In 2021, as the impact of Covid19 continues to plague the Somali community, journalists struggled to get information on the government’s response to the pandemic and the vaccine. The denial of journalists’ access to information by federal and state health authorities, in violation of national and international legal obligations, has thwarted public efforts to save lives and reduce the spread of disinformation and fake news hampering dissemination. vaccination in the country.

Local media editors, reporters and producers have revealed how the Federal Health Ministry has imposed secrecy to limit criticism of bad decisions or hide allegations of corruption as the pandemic takes hold in all. corners of the country. In many cases, federal and regional states have deliberately blocked, detained, harassed and threatened journalists covering the elections – especially in disputes and complaints related to the upper and lower house elections.

Throughout the year, the federal police in Mogadishu denied journalists access to information relating to the disappearance of Ikran Tahlil Farah, an intelligence worker who disappeared at the end of June 2021, and to information about young Somali recruits who were allegedly transferred to Eritrean training camps as numerous public protests demanding information on their fate were repeatedly dispersed.

Precarious working conditions, low wages, lack of employment contracts and lack of occupational health and safety continue to affect Somali media workers. Since the start of the epidemic in the country, media workers have been particularly vulnerable and many journalists have been infected with the infection, although no deaths have been reported. Somalia does not have a statutory minimum wage and a new federal labor law, which could spell out labor rights and conditions of employment, is still under development.

The Somali Journalists Union (SJS) calls on the federal and regional states of Somalia to respect the right to freedom of the press as defined in the Interim Federal Constitution. Protecting journalists and media freedom is an important pillar in promoting information as a public good.

The free press plays an essential role in informing citizens about public affairs and monitoring government actions at all levels. When journalists are threatened, attacked, detained, and their media houses raided, it means citizens will be denied the right to raise key issues affecting state building and the rule of law, which are important for the governance of Somalia.

The SJS further reminds the Somali federal and regional authorities of their obligation to ensure that thorough and objective investigations are carried out into all cases of murders of journalists, including the murder of the cameraman, Abdirizak Kasim Iman, who was shot dead by a police officer in July 2018 in Mogadishu.

The report presented here is based on interviews with local journalists, media directors, family members of affected journalists, civil society representatives and government officials. It covers violations against journalists and press freedom, including threats, harassment, arrests, censorship, physical attacks and killings of journalists in Somalia, including Somaliland, which took place from 1 January to December 31, 2021.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE

Abdalle Ahmed Mumin,

General Secretary, Union of Somali Journalists

]]>
Afghanistan: How press freedom has collapsed since Taliban seizure | Asia | An in-depth look at current events from across the continent | DW https://thebackwaterspress.org/afghanistan-how-press-freedom-has-collapsed-since-taliban-seizure-asia-an-in-depth-look-at-current-events-from-across-the-continent-dw/ Fri, 07 Jan 2022 15:13:11 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/afghanistan-how-press-freedom-has-collapsed-since-taliban-seizure-asia-an-in-depth-look-at-current-events-from-across-the-continent-dw/ Selma (name changed) was a journalist and activist living and working in Panjshir Province, northeastern Afghanistan. She lost her job following the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country in August. After being threatened, she left the area and is now hiding, selling bolani, a local flatbread, on the streets to survive. “I worked as a […]]]>


Selma (name changed) was a journalist and activist living and working in Panjshir Province, northeastern Afghanistan. She lost her job following the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country in August.

After being threatened, she left the area and is now hiding, selling bolani, a local flatbread, on the streets to survive.

“I worked as a journalist and human rights activist,” said DW Selma, who asked not to reveal her true identity for fear of reprisals. “As you know, women’s rights are strongly linked to religious ideologies, so we have always been in conflict with extremists. This has put us in danger.”

Selma is among thousands of journalists and media professionals who have lost their jobs in Afghanistan since August.

According to a report published in December by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 40% of the media have closed in the past five months and around 6,400 journalists have lost their jobs. Hundreds have fled the country. The report adds that more than 80% of women journalists are now out of work.

Some provinces in Afghanistan ended up with only a handful of media outlets, and those that remain have stopped broadcasting music, removed foreign content, and removed female hosts.

Most have also relaxed their media coverage for fear of closure or worse and now broadcast strictly religious content.

Afghan citizens who have enjoyed a variety of media choices over the past two decades now have little access to critical news and information.

“Without a free press capable of denouncing the flaws of bad governance, no one will be able to claim to fight against famine, poverty, corruption, drug trafficking and the other scourges which afflict Afghanistan and prevent a lasting peace”, Reza Moini, president of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan office, said the report.

Taliban: We have a “free and dynamic press”

Faced with a crumbling media landscape, Taliban officials have told the international community that they stand up for press freedom and that journalists are not threatened.

In a television interview with DW, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said Afghanistan has a “very free and vibrant press”.

“Unfortunately, I have to say that some media houses have closed, but it’s not because of us,” Balkhi said, adding that they were largely the result of a loss of donor funding.

This positive view of the media situation was echoed by Abdul Wahid Rayan, spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Culture, who told DW: “We have meetings and collaborations with journalists and owners. media all the time and anyone who has a problem can share it. with us. We believe in freedom of the press. “

Since the Taliban took power in August, no Western country has recognized the new government. This made it difficult for the Islamic fundamentalist group to access international capital and funding.

Even in the face of a looming humanitarian crisis and growing calls for UN support, foreign governments have so far failed to recognize the Taliban administration and provide support.

Some observers see the Taliban’s declared support for a free press in the country as part of a broader strategy to garner international recognition.

A longtime media observer who fled to Europe in August, who asked not to be named because he feared reprisals against his colleagues in Afghanistan, supported this argument.

He told DW that if a journalist was arrested or tortured, and it was covered by the international press, it would undermine the Taliban’s goal of international recognition.

“My organization has documented dozens of acts of violence against journalists and in no case has anyone been brought to justice,” he told DW. “We believe that any discussion with the new government should include the situation on the ground with regard to press freedom as a basic human right.”

Funding sources are drying up

After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the relative peace that accompanied it, hundreds of media outlets have sprung up in all corners of the country.

With funding sources ranging from international donors and local politicians to local advertising revenue, the country’s media landscape has broadened to become the most diverse in the region.

The country’s largest commercial television channel is TOLO TV, owned and operated by MOBY Group. The station was launched in 2004 and, along with its affiliates, continues to broadcast across Afghanistan.

Saad Mohseni, Chairman and CEO of MOBY Group, told DW that a number of factors are contributing to the media shutdown, including loss of grants from the international community, loss of advertising revenue, understaffing and bullying in the provinces. .

While he remains hopeful for the media industry, Mohseni said daily guidance from various Taliban ministries made it difficult for broadcasters to know what can and cannot be broadcast.

“We have to take it one day at a time,” he said.

Ezatullah Akbari, a member of the media watchdog Nai – Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, has worked with numerous media outlets outside of Kabul which have since closed.

He says the country may soon lose the majority of its journalists, many of whom have been trained.

“A lot of journalists leave Afghanistan because they have no job and no money,” Akbari told DW.

Women stripped of journalism

For most women journalists, leaving Afghanistan is the only option.

One of the few remaining in the country is Meena Habib. She has been a reporter for eight years and publishes Roidadha News, a local news site. She also does investigative work for various other media outlets, often focusing on women’s issues. She told DW that the situation was serious but that she continued to do journalism because she believed in her profession.

“Journalists, especially women journalists, have suffered an uncertain fate in the past five months since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban,” she told DW. She too was threatened by the Taliban and beaten while covering a women’s protest.

After two decades of freedom to pursue studies and careers, women like Habib must now live in a new reality where they are no longer equal members of society. While Taliban officials claim that women can continue to work, the reality is that in journalism, this is not the case.

According to the Reporters Without Borders report, 15 of the 36 Afghan provinces no longer have a single female reporter. In Kabul, only about a quarter of the women who were working in early August are still employed.

“The progress seen over the past 20 years was wiped out in a matter of days by the Taliban takeover,” the report said. Habib acknowledges that press freedom does not currently exist under the Taliban but that outside pressure could help the remaining journalists.

“The international community must work to ensure that the rights of women journalists who wish to continue reporting in their own country are protected,” she said.

Unfortunately for Selma, staying in Afghanistan would mean continuing to live in fear of the Taliban.

Now living alone in a large unknown city, she is unable to see her family. It had a huge emotional impact and she is desperately looking for a way to escape.

“I have to find a way out of this darkness,” she said.

Ahmad Hakimi and Sifatullah Zahidi contributed to this report.

Edited by: Srinivas Mazumdaru


]]>
Reviews | Dangerous move over Times, Project Veritas, and press freedom https://thebackwaterspress.org/reviews-dangerous-move-over-times-project-veritas-and-press-freedom/ Fri, 24 Dec 2021 22:24:16 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/reviews-dangerous-move-over-times-project-veritas-and-press-freedom/ Half a century ago, the Supreme Court settled the question of when a court can prevent the publication of a newspaper. In 1971, the Nixon administration attempted to prevent The Times and The Washington Post from publishing classified Defense Department documents detailing the history of the Vietnam War – the so-called Pentagon Papers. Faced with […]]]>


Half a century ago, the Supreme Court settled the question of when a court can prevent the publication of a newspaper. In 1971, the Nixon administration attempted to prevent The Times and The Washington Post from publishing classified Defense Department documents detailing the history of the Vietnam War – the so-called Pentagon Papers. Faced with an affirmed threat to the security of the nation, the Supreme Court sided with the newspapers. “Without an informed and free press there can be no enlightened people,” Judge Potter Stewart wrote in a concurring opinion.

This sentiment reflects one of the oldest and most enduring tenets of our legal system: the government can not tell the press what it can and cannot publish. This principle predates the Constitution, but so there would be no mistake, the founders of the nation included a guarantee in the Bill of Rights anyway. “Congress will not make any law,” says the First Amendment, “restricting freedom of speech or of the press.”

This is why virtually all official attempts to ban advance speaking or reporting, known as pre-restriction, are canceled. “Any system of prior expression restrictions is submitted to this court with a strong presumption against its constitutional validity,” said the Supreme Court in a 1963 case. Such restrictions are “the very prototype of the greatest threat to the values ​​of the First Amendment, “wrote Judge Antonin Scalia a generation later.

On Friday, however, a New York trial judge broke this precedent when he issued an order barring the Times from publishing or even reporting more information it had obtained regarding Project Veritas, the group of conservative espionage that traffics hidden and fake cameras. identities to target liberal politicians and interest groups, as well as mainstream media.

The order, a very unusual and surprisingly broad injunction against a news organization, was issued by state Supreme Court Judge Charles D. Wood, who wrote that the Times’ decision to publish excerpts from Notes written by lawyers for Project Veritas “calls for court intervention to protect the integrity of the judicial process.” The move follows a similar directive released last month by Justice Wood in response to an article published by The Times and citing the memos. The Times plans to appeal the latter decision.

In seeking Judge Wood’s order, lawyers for Project Veritas acknowledged that pre-publication restrictions are rare, but argued that their case falls within a narrow exception that the law recognizes for documents that may be used in the process. part of an ongoing litigation. This exception recognizes that because the parties are obligated by the court to disclose documents, the courts should have the power to oversee how such coerced disclosures are used by the other party. The litigation here is a defamation lawsuit that Project Veritas filed against The Times in 2020, for its articles on a video the group produced about what it claimed was widespread electoral fraud in Minnesota. The video was “likely part of a coordinated disinformation effort,” the Times reported, citing analysis by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Washington.

Class lawyers also argue that the memos are protected by solicitor-client privilege and that the Times had an ethical obligation to refer them to Project Veritas, rather than publishing them. This is not the way journalism works. The Times, like any other news organization, makes ethical judgments on a daily basis about whether to divulge secret information from governments, businesses and others in the news. But the First Amendment is about leaving those ethical decisions to journalists, not the courts. The only potential exception is information so sensitive – for example, planned troop movements during a war – that its publication could pose a serious threat to American lives or to national security.

Project Veritas legal notes are not a matter of national security. In fact, without its ongoing libel lawsuit, the group would have no claim against The Times. The memos at issue have nothing to do with this lawsuit and did not reach The Times through the discovery process. Still, Project Veritas argues that their publication should be banned because the notes contain confidential information relevant to the group’s litigation strategy.

It is an absurd and deeply threatening argument for a free press. Consider the consequences: News organizations could be routinely prevented from reporting information about a person or business simply because the subject of that report decided that the information could one day be used in litigation. More alarming is the prospect that journalists could be banned even from asking questions of sources, lest someone say something that turns out to be privileged. It is not a speculative fear; in his previous order, Justice Wood banned The Times from reporting on anything covered by Project Veritas’ attorney-client privilege. In Friday’s ruling, he ordered The Times to destroy all copies of the notes he obtained and banned him from reporting on the substance of those notes. The press is free to report on matters of public interest, he wrote, but lawyers’ notes to their clients do not erase that bar.

It’s a jaw-dropping justification: Judge Wood has taken it upon himself to decide what The Times can and cannot report. This is not how the First Amendment is supposed to work.

Journalism, like democracy, thrives in an environment of transparency and freedom. No court should be able to tell the New York Times or any other news organization – or, for that matter, Project Veritas – how to conduct its reporting. Otherwise, it would prompt the subjects of any journalist to sue for frivolous libel in order to control media coverage about them. More precisely, it would reverse the values ​​embodied by the First Amendment and hamper the functioning of the free press on which an autonomous republic depends.


]]>
Greek journalists denounce decline in press freedom https://thebackwaterspress.org/greek-journalists-denounce-decline-in-press-freedom/ Sun, 19 Dec 2021 07:40:18 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/greek-journalists-denounce-decline-in-press-freedom/ Athens (AFP) – The murder of a journalist, the Prime Minister publicly reprimanding a foreign journalist and alleged state surveillance. It has been a bad year for media rights in Greece. The southern European country lost five places in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index established by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and […]]]>


Athens (AFP) – The murder of a journalist, the Prime Minister publicly reprimanding a foreign journalist and alleged state surveillance. It has been a bad year for media rights in Greece.

The southern European country lost five places in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index established by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and now ranks 70 out of 180 countries, behind the Poland and Mongolia.

George Pleios, head of media studies at the National University of Athens, said the deterioration over the past year was alarming.

Press freedom has become a concern,” he told AFP.

Pleios said a series of press freedom violations in recent years have included journalists detained or intimidated, and police beating photographers during protests.

But in April, a prominent criminal journalist, Giorgos Karaivaz, 52, was shot dead outside his home in Athens. The government ordered an investigation, but no arrests were made.

Prominent criminal journalist Giorgos Karaivaz was gunned down outside his home in Athens in April Yiannis PANAGOPOULOS Eurokinissi / AFP

Over the past year, the government has ignored requests for information on key stories and lobbied journalists for unfavorable reporting, while parliament passed a new law in November punishing the disinformation of a sentence of up to five years in prison.

People can now go to jail for alleged false information “which may worry or frighten the public,” in a move that the Athenian newspaper Esiea’s journalists’ union has called too vague and threatens to restrict freedom of expression.

Journalists say that, throughout 2021, police and government ministries have systematically ignored their emails seeking answers on the coronavirus pandemic, police abuse and the migration crisis.

“Self-censorship”

In November, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was embroiled in a public row with a Dutch journalist who accused him of “lying” after Athens denied having carried out illegal push-backs of migrants at sea.


In November, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis found himself embroiled in a public row with a Dutch journalist who accused him of "lie" after Athens denies carrying out illegal push-backs of migrants at sea
In November, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was embroiled in a public row with a Dutch journalist who accused him of “lying” after Athens denied having carried out illegal push-backs of migrants at sea Louisa GOULIAMAKI AFP

“You will not enter this building to insult me ​​(…) or the Greek people with accusations and expressions that are not supported by material facts,” he said at a conference press release with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Journalist Ingeborg Beugel later said she received threats and temporarily left the country.

On November 13, the left-wing daily Efsyn published what it said were internal intelligence memos collating information on anti-vaccines and activists helping migrants – but also about a journalist subsequently hired by the ‘AFP.

In response to AFP letters, Minister of State George Gerapetritis insisted that “there is no surveillance of journalists in Greece”.

“Greece fully adheres to the values ​​of a democratic society and the rule of law, in particular pluralism and freedom of the press,” he said.

He later added that the independence of the media was “sacrosanct”.

“Although we do not always agree with what the media write, we will defend (…) the right of a free press to report unhindered and independent of any outside interference,” he said. he declares.

But Greece has not opened an investigation following the alleged leaks of Efsyn.

The Efsyn reporter who revealed the story, Dimitris Terzis, accused the government and supporting media of “trying to bury the case”.


Journalists say that throughout 2021, police and government departments have systematically ignored their emails seeking answers on the coronavirus pandemic, police abuse and the migration crisis
Journalists say that throughout 2021, police and government departments have systematically ignored their emails seeking answers on the coronavirus pandemic, police abuse and the migration crisis Hellenic Coast Guard / AFP document

In February and December last year, journalists received letters of complaint from the government after reporting two cases where Mitsotakis had apparently broken lockdown rules.

Fabien Perrier, French-speaking media correspondent in Greece, said his editors received a letter from the Culture Ministry in May regarding an article criticizing a new concrete footbridge at the Acropolis.

He said journalists in Greece were under pressure to “practice self-censorship”.

Two journalists working with Greek media resigned last year, accusing the government of attempted censorship, claims it denied.

“Cloud of fear”

Athens University media professor Lambrini Papadopoulou says Greece has a long history of collusion between Greek media and political and financial elites.


Fabien Perrier, French-speaking media correspondent in Greece, said his editors received a letter from the Culture Ministry in May regarding an article criticizing a new concrete footbridge at the Acropolis.
Fabien Perrier, French-speaking media correspondent in Greece, said his editors received a letter from the Culture Ministry in May regarding an article criticizing a new concrete footbridge at the Acropolis. POOL Petros Giannakouris / AFP

“Problematic relations between media and power are not new,” she said.

“There is little room for critical and independent journalism in Greece.”

George Tzogopoulos, a researcher at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy think tank, says coverage of the pandemic in some Greek media is simply to produce government announcements.

Dozens of outlets closed during Greece’s 2010-2018 debt crisis, leaving survivors desperate for any form of support.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the government introduced a program to support the media with funds as part of a home support campaign.

But according to opposition parties, the money has gone disproportionately to pro-government media. A parliamentary inquiry into the matter is underway.

Overall, RSF believes that the authorities have taken insufficient measures to protect journalists.

The 2010 murder of another journalist, Sokratis Giolias, 37, is also unsolved.

Pleios, the academic, says such failures leave journalists “under a cloud of fear”.


]]>
Press freedom threatened in Europe https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-threatened-in-europe/ Thu, 16 Dec 2021 15:57:59 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-threatened-in-europe/ When it comes to press freedom, Europe is often hailed as a model of freedom. But some experts are sounding the alarm bells on an increasingly hostile environment for journalists. Corinne Vella was not expecting a great crowd at her sister’s wake. After all, it had been four years since the assassination and, she said, […]]]>


When it comes to press freedom, Europe is often hailed as a model of freedom. But some experts are sounding the alarm bells on an increasingly hostile environment for journalists.

Corinne Vella was not expecting a great crowd at her sister’s wake. After all, it had been four years since the assassination and, she said, “people are tired of fighting for justice. You would expect people to get caught up in the initial trauma and then go on to live their own lives. “

But one evening on October 16, around 1,000 people gathered in Valletta, the capital of Malta, to honor Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist known for her work exposing political corruption. She was killed by a car bomb in 2017.

“It was overwhelming to see so many people still dedicate themselves to the cause,” says Vella, who advocates for justice for her sister. Several people were charged with the murder, including an energy mogul with close ties to the government of the day. The investigation reached the highest levels of power in Malta and led to the resignation of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. But only one person has been convicted so far, and the full truth about the murder has yet to be revealed.

People gathered in Valletta, the capital of Malta, to commemorate Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist who was killed in 2017.

Vella is Caruana Galizia’s younger sister. She wants to see not only the perpetrators but also the people behind the murder brought to justice: “We know for sure that Daphne’s murder was related to her work and much of her job is to uncover political corruption. There is no prosecution for political corruption so far. We want that to happen.

    Daphne Caruana Galizia's sister
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s younger sister, Corinne Vella
    Caruana Galizia's sister at the site of the incident
Corinne Vella at the scene of her sister’s murder

Journalist fears for his safety and moves out

Despite the indictments and the change of power in Malta, journalists are still subject to intimidation. Manuel Delia has respected Caruana Galizia’s work and continues to investigate political corruption, but he was harassed so much that he ended up fleeing to Germany. Even in his new home, he says he’s getting calls from someone who has cloned Caruana Galizia’s phone number and other numbers as well, asking him to stop writing.

Manuel Délia
Manuel Delia, a Maltese journalist, shows some of the threatening text messages he has received.

Delia enlisted the help of the European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF). The non-profit organization, founded in Leipzig, Germany, offers residences and bases for at-risk journalists from across Europe. The organization also trains journalists in the use of encrypted communication to safely continue investigative reporting.

Delia lives in one of the ECPMF residences, which offers her “the advantage of distance and security”, according to him. He also receives training in therapy and group safety.

Lutz Kinkel, CEO of ECPMF, says the situation is getting worse for journalists in Europe. He accuses authoritarian leaders as well as the rise of disinformation on social networks. He says his organization, founded in 2015, is getting bigger and bigger every year. “Our support enables and empowers journalists to continue their work,” he said. “It’s important because journalistic work is important for a functioning democracy.”

In the midst of danger, a little hope

The dangers are not limited to Malta or the authoritarian states. In the Netherlands, a prominent journalist investigating organized crime was shot dead in July. In Slovakia, investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in their home in 2018.

Reporters Without Borders, based in France, has been campaigning for a free press since 1985. Current Secretary General Christophe Deloire says the situation in Europe is deteriorating.

Deloire said the Caruana Galizia assassination was “a moment of awareness” across the European Union that investigative journalists could be targeted on European soil. He says what his death appears to have in common with subsequent assassinations of journalists is that it followed a weakening of the media by those in power.

“First there is a weakening of the media and then the attackers take advantage of it,” he said.

Christophe Deloire
Christophe Deloire, Secretary General and Executive Director of Reporters Without Borders

Deloire says the future of journalism is uncertain, but there is reason to be optimistic. He said this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their work in empowering authoritarian rulers, “comes at a crucial time.”

Vella agrees. “With this award, I have the feeling that it sends such a strong signal that it builds the confidence of the people who work in the field,” she says. “He put a light where he should go. Journalism lights up the darkness.


]]>