protect journalists – The Backwaters Press http://thebackwaterspress.org/ Sat, 26 Mar 2022 06:40:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://thebackwaterspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/icon-34.png protect journalists – The Backwaters Press http://thebackwaterspress.org/ 32 32 Press freedom concerned about treatment of Filipino media in 2022 election https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-concerned-about-treatment-of-filipino-media-in-2022-election/ Wed, 16 Mar 2022 00:45:32 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-concerned-about-treatment-of-filipino-media-in-2022-election/ The campaign period, which began on February 8, saw the banning of journalists from campaign events, the refusal of candidates to attend debates organized by the media, a series of distributed denial of service attacks ( DDoS) on news websites and online hostility against news. organizations and journalists. By CHERRY SALAZAR The National Union of […]]]>

The campaign period, which began on February 8, saw the banning of journalists from campaign events, the refusal of candidates to attend debates organized by the media, a series of distributed denial of service attacks ( DDoS) on news websites and online hostility against news. organizations and journalists.

By CHERRY SALAZAR

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Center for Media Freedom and Accountability (CMFR) have expressed concern over attacks and hostility against the media in the run-up to the May 9 elections.

The campaign period, which began on February 8, saw election-related incidents such as the banning of journalists from campaign events, the refusal of candidates to attend debates organized by the media, a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on news websites. , and online hostility against news agencies and journalists over their coverage of candidates.

NUJP President Jonathan de Santos said access to campaigns was a unique challenge during the 2022 campaign, not because of pandemic restrictions, but because of some candidates’ efforts to manage news media .

“May constraints on coverage. Pili lang. [Example], accredited naman ako pero galing ako sa newsroom na ayaw mo, hindi mo ako hahayaang mag-cover…. Ou meron ngang embush interview pero shortlisted naman ‘yung embush interview tapos isang tanong lang, “ de Santos told the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

(There are coverage constraints. They are demanding. For example, I’m accredited with them but I’m from a newsroom they don’t like, so they won’t let me cover. Or it there is an ambush interview but it’s pre-selected and only one question is allowed.)

These restrictions have affected public discourse important to inform voters about the candidates, said the executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Accountability (CMFR), Melinda Quintos de Jesus.

Ban on journalists at campaign events

Rappler contributor Sherwin De Vera recalled arriving at least five hours before the Uniteam slate caravan at Ilocos Sur on February 17. and the building’s photojournalist Edwin Mangoba. They were also not allowed to cover the large gathering that evening.

The two received no explanation. De Vera reported earlier the same day that several barangay health workers wearing Ministry of Health marked shirts attended the event, prompting the Ministry of Health to remind its staff against attending political activities.

“If you do not restrict access to the media to cover this event, ibig sabihin, protect the most important information about these events,” he added.

(If media access to cover these events is restricted, this means that the public is also denied access to information about these candidates.)

Marcos had also been selective in his participation in presidential debates and forums. In January, Marcos accused veteran journalist Jessica Soho of being “biased” in justifying her refusal to attend GMA News presidential interviews.

Verbal attacks online

The PCIJ monitored at least nine incidents of DDoS attacks against news websites, including those of GMA News and CNN Philippines during the broadcast of their presidential interviews.

A DDoS attack is an attempt to overwhelm a web server’s bandwidth or resources by flooding it with multiple traffic requests, causing the website to become slow or unavailable. It is a form of unauthorized access to and interference with a computer system or server, which is illegal in the Philippines under Republic Act No. 8792 or the Electronic Commerce Act.

These cyberattacks also affect the dissemination of information to the public, De Santos said. “Aanhin mo ang storya kung di naman mababasa?” (What good is your story if no one can read it?)

Mitigation measures to counter these online attacks can be costly, straining newsrooms’ already limited resources.

Online hostility against news agencies and journalists is also commonplace.

Before the election campaign, the candidates themselves carried out verbal attacks against journalists. Besides Marcos calling Jessica Soho “biased,” her senatorial candidate Larry Gadon attacked foreign correspondent Raissa Robles after she posted comments about Marcos’ tax conviction.

Killings before the campaign period

CMFR’s director general described the attacks on the media as attacks on the “heart of society”.

“The heart allows blood to flow through the body… The machinery of journalism goes to platforms, such as news sites, television and radio programs. All of these communication platforms are what makes the flow of support,” De Jesus said.

“If you attack them, you make society sick. You will create a society that is either unable to do anything for itself or is heavily dependent solely on the forces of power,” she added. “This power is usually associated with violence and coercion.”

The Philippines is the seventh most dangerous country in the world for journalists, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which publishes an Impunity Index that ranks countries around the world by the number of journalists killed and the prevalence of perpetrators at liberty.

Two radio commentators were killed in Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat between the filing of nominations in October 2021 and the start of the campaign period in February 2022. Inquests have been opened to determine whether the death of the Orlando radio commentator and reporter Dinoy and radio commentator Jaynard Angeles were linked to their work in the media.

Outside of the election-related incidents, Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. President Aldwin Quitasol heard a gunshot and saw two men speeding on a motorcycle as he rode home along a weakly illuminated in the city on March 1.

Quitasol strongly criticized the government’s counter-insurgency strategy. In January, the police and military invited Quitasol and other city activists to participate in a “dialogue” as part of the community support program’s Operation White Zone.

Red-marking journalists, as well as other members of civil society, is a serious problem, De Jesus said.

The National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) had labeled several journalists and media outlets as Communist allies, without even citing intelligence sources, leading to a barrage of online harassment and threats against media workers.

“This administration hasn’t developed a trust in the media and in working with each other,” De Jesus said. “It’s also because the NTF-Elcac, designated as an agency to eliminate communism, uses red-marking mechanisms and labels journalists as enemies of the state.”

In 2016, a Presidential Task Force on Media Safety (PTFoM) was established under Administrative Order No. 1. But CMFR’s De Jesus said the agency, which was attached to the president’s office and tasked with investigating and acting on cases of media violence, did not even coordinate with journalists’ groups.

“From the start, there was no information shared… They work alone, but the idea of ​​state protection should be tied to the efforts of those who work in journalism themselves,” said De Jesus.

PTFoMS Executive Director, Joel Egco, a former journalist, is also the spokesperson for NTF-Elcac’s media engagements.

PCIJ has contacted the working group but has received no response to date.

De Santos said it was important for journalists to diligently report attacks, show solidarity with one another and demand that the government take action to prevent these attacks.

“If you look closely, the responsibility to protect the media is not on us… Shouldn’t it be on the government to ensure that we have an environment conducive to freedom of the press and the free flow of information ? So it’s really up to them,” De Santos said.


Timeline: Attacks and hostility against the media

October 30, 2021: Radio commentator and Philippines News journalist Orlando Dinoy was killed in his apartment. He was being pushed to run for Vice Mayor of Bansalan, Davao del Sur. Dinoy had six gunshot wounds, according to reports.

November 17-18, 2021: Pinoy Media Center, which publishes Pinoy Weekly, fell victim to DDoS attacks. The cyberattacks came after the publication of an op-ed on a possible Duterte-Marcos alliance and an analysis of the 2022 election agenda.

December 11, 2021: The ABS-CBN news site was targeted by a DDoS attack and was inaccessible for six hours.

December 15, 2021: Rappler has been the victim of a DDoS attack.

December 16, 2021: The Vera Files website has been hit by a DDoS attack.

December 19, 2021: AlterMidya staff Arian Puse received threats via Messenger chat. The read message, “uunti-untiin kita”, “alam ko (ang) bahay mo at pinagtatrabahuan mo” and “huling Pasko (mo) na ito”.

December 23, 2021: Within a week, Rappler was subjected to another DDoS attack. The ABS-CBN news website also went down, although the network did not confirm the reason for the outage.

January 12, 2022: Radyo ni Juan Tacurong radio commentator Jaynard Angeles was shot in the head by two unidentified male assailants.

January 22 and 27, 2022: Rappler reported a DDoS attack on its website.

January 29, 2022: GMA News reported a DDoS attack. This happened a week after the network aired “The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews”.

January 30, 2022: CNN Philippines announced that its website was down due to a DDoS attack.

February 17, 2022: ABS-CBN channel Dynah Diestro was kicked out of its coverage during the visit of four senatorial candidates to the governor’s office in Zamboanga del Norte.

February 17, 2022: Sherwin de Vera and Edwin Mangoba, who both reported for Rappler, were barred from covering the public trailer for presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

February 27, 2022: CNN Philippines reported DDoS attacks on its website during the network’s live presidential debate.

March 1, 2022: An assassination attempt was made against Daily Tribune correspondent Aldwin Quitasol, president of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club. (reposted by davaotoday.com)

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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


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India arrests IIOJ&K journalist amid press freedom crackdown https://thebackwaterspress.org/india-arrests-iiojk-journalist-amid-press-freedom-crackdown/ Sun, 06 Feb 2022 00:50:04 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/india-arrests-iiojk-journalist-amid-press-freedom-crackdown/ SRINAGAR: A prominent journalist from illegally occupied Indian Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) has been arrested by police and accused of ‘glorifying terrorism’ and ‘spreading false news’ in the disputed territory, where a crackdown on the press intensified. Fahad Shah, the editor of the Kashmir Walla news portal, had already been questioned several times for his […]]]>

SRINAGAR: A prominent journalist from illegally occupied Indian Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) has been arrested by police and accused of ‘glorifying terrorism’ and ‘spreading false news’ in the disputed territory, where a crackdown on the press intensified.

Fahad Shah, the editor of the Kashmir Walla news portal, had already been questioned several times for his reporting by officers in recent years. He had been arrested for “apologizing terrorism, spreading false news and inciting the general public”, the IIOJ&K police said on Saturday.

A police statement following his arrest the day before added that Shah’s Facebook posts had tarnished “the image of Indian law enforcement”.

The Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Shah’s release and called on Indian authorities to respect press freedom in Kashmir. Shah’s arrest demonstrated “the authorities’ utter disregard for press freedom and the fundamental right of journalists to report freely and safely,” said Steven Butler of the Washington-based watchdog.

Dozens of journalists in illegal Indian-controlled Kashmir have been regularly summoned by police and questioned about their work since 2019, when the New Delhi regime revoked the territory’s partial autonomy and placed it under direct authority.

They have also been subject to increasing harassment, arrests, raids and prosecutions on “terrorism” related charges.

Millions of Indian soldiers are deployed in the territory, fighting indigenous freedom groups demanding independence. The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.

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In an election year, press freedom declines in Angola Global Voices русский Français https://thebackwaterspress.org/in-an-election-year-press-freedom-declines-in-angola-global-voices-%d1%80%d1%83%d1%81%d1%81%d0%ba%d0%b8%d0%b9-francais/ Tue, 01 Feb 2022 08:53:00 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/in-an-election-year-press-freedom-declines-in-angola-global-voices-%d1%80%d1%83%d1%81%d1%81%d0%ba%d0%b8%d0%b9-francais/ In April 2021, the Angolan government ordered the suspension of TV Record África’s activities in the country, citing irregularities. Image: Giovana Fleck/Global Voices Angola will hold elections in August 2022 which will establish the new Parliament and the President of the Republic. The current head of state, João Lourenço, of the Popular Movement for the […]]]>

In April 2021, the Angolan government ordered the suspension of TV Record África’s activities in the country, citing irregularities. Image: Giovana Fleck/Global Voices

Angola will hold elections in August 2022 which will establish the new Parliament and the President of the Republic. The current head of state, João Lourenço, of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party, was elected in 2017. Lourenço was elected after his predecessor, José Eduardo dos Santos, resigned after more than 30 years in power

Founded in 1956, the MPLA has governed Angola since its independence from Portugal in 1975. Since then, it has been the largest party in the country and, therefore, controls various governance and social sectors, including the media.

During the mandate of José Eduardo dos Santos, Angola was considered a country where freedom of expression and of the press was threatensmainly due to the ban on public demonstrations and the arrests of opposition activists and politicians.

One of the iconic cases, covered by Global Voices in 2016, is when 17 activists were arrested after discussing a delivered which was considered a “weapon of war” by the previous government. They were released a few months later.

Voters hoped for change when they elected the current president in 2017. While he looked promising at the start of his term, time shows that his tenure has proven to be more of the same. Under his mandate, citizens still do not have the right to demonstrate and face unjustified arrests and detentions.

Fundamental freedoms in an election year

Angola has seen tension mount since its 2017 elections, which were marred by protests and political strife. In 2021 citizens took to the streets after the approval of an electoral law, even if the main political actors in the country had not reached a consensus.

In addition to the protests, the media (traditionally state-dominated in Angola) has also suffered setback, in particular on television channels and newspapers with the greatest circulation. The most recent incident concerns the suspension private television channels operating in the country.

The first case dates from April 2021, when the Angolan government order the suspension of TV Record Africa’s activities in the country, citing irregularities. Registration is one of the biggest commercial television groups in Brazil. The Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication (MINTTICS) justified the suspension of the Brazilian television subsidiary on the grounds that its executive director is a “non-national” citizen.

On the same opportunity, another media group, which operates broadcast TV channels, called ZAP, was also suspended on suspicion of illegalities in its operations. At the time, the authorities said that the assessment carried out by this ministry revealed that there were newspapers, magazines and radio stations registered in the country, but that they were not operations. effective.

In response, Angela Quintal, Africa Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), called the government to end the suspension, calling on the executive to stop persecuting government-critical media:

Com aproximação das eleições do próximo ano, o Presidente João Lourenço and sua administração deveriam promote a plurality of perspetivas our ‘media’ and assegurar that o Estado não tem o monopoly da informação crucial para o público tomar decisões fundamentadas.

As elections approach next year, President João Lourenço and his administration should promote a plurality of viewpoints in the media and ensure that the state does not have a monopoly on crucial information for the public can make informed decisions.

In January 2022, it was ultimately announced that the channels would be handed over to state management. It so happens that the Attorney General’s office has decided that the management of the companies ZAP Media SA and Finstar should be entrusted to the ministry that oversees the media in Angola, which must guarantee the reinstatement of the dismissed workers of the channel.

In its recent report on Angola, Human Rights Watch caught the eye to the growing number of violations of fundamental freedoms in Angola, with particular emphasis on the press sector.

O Comité de Protecção dos Jornalistas, CPJ, relatou pelo menos seis outros casos de queixas por difamação criminal contra jornalistas em Angola desde Março de 2021. Milhões de angolanos em todo o país continuam a ter acesso a informação livre, diversa e imparcial, uma vez that Angola continuou a ser o único país da África Austral sem estações de rádio comunitárias.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, has reported at least six other cases of criminal defamation complaints against journalists in Angola since March 2021. Millions of Angolans across the country continue to have access to free information, diverse and impartial, because Angola remains the only country in southern Africa without community radios.

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Taliban block press conference by Federation of Afghan Journalists https://thebackwaterspress.org/taliban-block-press-conference-by-federation-of-afghan-journalists/ Thu, 27 Jan 2022 20:21:26 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/taliban-block-press-conference-by-federation-of-afghan-journalists/ New York, January 27, 2022 — The Taliban must allow journalists and news organizations to work freely and without interference, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday. On Wednesday, around 60 armed members of the Taliban-controlled Kabul police and the General Directorate of Intelligence, the Taliban’s intelligence agency, blocked a press conference scheduled by the […]]]>

New York, January 27, 2022 — The Taliban must allow journalists and news organizations to work freely and without interference, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On Wednesday, around 60 armed members of the Taliban-controlled Kabul police and the General Directorate of Intelligence, the Taliban’s intelligence agency, blocked a press conference scheduled by the Federation of Afghan Journalists in District 4 of the capital, according to news reports, a report by the local press freedom group Free Speech Centerand Sayed Ali Asghar Akbarzadeh, a member of the federation’s steering committee, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

The Federation of Afghan Journalists, a collective of 13 press and media freedom groups, had scheduled a conference of 11 of its representatives at a home office in Kabul to discuss the status of the media under the Taliban, according to Akbarzadeh.

Before the conference could begin, dozens of armed men entered the house where the conference was to be held, identified themselves as police and GDI, and initially declared that they were there. to ensure the security of the conference.

One of the gunmen then questioned the attendees about the motives for the press conference and threatened reprisals if such events took place without Taliban permission, Akbarzadeh said.

Another of the men, who did not give his name or position, then ordered the conference canceled, according to a reporter who was at the scene and spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fears of reprisals. The reporter said they believed the man was a member of the GDI.

“Taliban authorities must ensure that police and intelligence agents do not interfere with the functioning of media and press freedom organizations,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler. in Washington, DC. “The shrinking of the once thriving media industry in Afghanistan is a tragedy. for the country. The Taliban must act immediately to reverse this trend.

Police and intelligence agents briefly detained three journalists who planned to cover the conference, according to Free Speech Hub, which identified the journalists as Masoor Lutfi, Fardin Attai and Zarif Karimi. CPJ was unable to immediately determine the media outlets affiliated with these journalists.

Police and GDI agents briefly detained the three journalists in GDI vehicles at the scene and then released them without charge, according to Free Speech Hub.

Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via the messaging app.

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‘Systematic fear’: How India undermined press freedom in Kashmir | Press Freedom News https://thebackwaterspress.org/systematic-fear-how-india-undermined-press-freedom-in-kashmir-press-freedom-news/ Wed, 26 Jan 2022 05:38:31 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/systematic-fear-how-india-undermined-press-freedom-in-kashmir-press-freedom-news/ For five years, Sajad Gul has written about the conflict ravaging his homeland of Indian-administered Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory where armed rebellion and brutal Indian repression have raged for more than three decades. That changed on a snowy Wednesday night this month with a knock on his door. Gul found himself surrounded by Indian […]]]>

For five years, Sajad Gul has written about the conflict ravaging his homeland of Indian-administered Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory where armed rebellion and brutal Indian repression have raged for more than three decades.

That changed on a snowy Wednesday night this month with a knock on his door.

Gul found himself surrounded by Indian soldiers wielding automatic rifles who loaded him into a vehicle and fled, winding their way down the snow-covered trail to Hajin, a quiet village about 32 km (20 miles) from Srinagar, the main town. of the area, said his mother. , Gulshana, which uses only one name.

Journalists have long faced various threats in Indian-administered Kashmir and found themselves caught between warring parties. But their situation has worsened considerably since India revoked the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019, placing it under a severe security and communications lockdown and the media in a black hole.

A year later, the government’s new media policy aimed to more effectively control the press to censor independent reporting. Dozens of people have been arrested, interrogated and investigated under tough anti-terrorism laws.

Fear of reprisals caused the local press to wither under pressure.

“Indian authorities seem determined to prevent journalists from doing their job,” said Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator for the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Kashmiri journalists work during a surprise search of pedestrians by security forces in Srinagar [Dar Yasin/AP]

Gul’s arrest, which CPJ condemned, underscored the rapid erosion of press freedom and the criminalization of journalists in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Police told Gul’s family that he was arrested for inciting people to “use violence and disturb public order”. A police statement later described him as “habitual of spreading misinformation” and “false narratives” on social media.

He was detained days after his single tweet linked to a video clip of a protest against Indian rule, following the killing of a Kashmiri rebel. He spent 11 days locked up before a local court granted him bail.

Instead of releasing Gul, authorities charged him in a new case under the strict Public Security Law, which allows authorities to jail anyone for up to two years without trial.

“My son is not a criminal,” Gulshana said. “He was just writing. »

“Direct attack on free media”

The media has always been tightly controlled in Indian-administered Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority region. Arm twisting and fear have been widely used to intimidate the press since 1989, when rebels began fighting Indian soldiers in a bid to establish an independent Kashmir or a union with Pakistan.

Pakistan controls the other part of Kashmir and both counties fiercely claim the entire territory.

The fighting left tens of thousands dead. Yet the various media outlets in Indian-administered Kashmir have thrived despite relentless pressure from Indian authorities and rebel groups.

That changed in 2019, when authorities began bringing criminal charges against some journalists. Several of them were forced to reveal their sources, while others were physically assaulted.

“The authorities have created systematic fear and launched a direct attack on free media. There is complete intolerance of even a single critical word,” said Anuradha Bhasin, editor of the Kashmir Times, a leading English daily established in 1954.

Journalist Aasif Sultan handcuffed as he surrendered to police custodyKashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan handcuffed after his 2018 arrest [File: Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Bhasin was among the few to petition India’s Supreme Court, resulting in a partial restoration of communications services after the 2019 power outage, which the government said was needed to block anti-protests. Indian.

But she soon found herself in the crosshairs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Bhasin’s legacy newspaper office in Srinagar, operating out of a rented government building, was sealed off by authorities without notice. His staff were not allowed to take out equipment.

“They are killing local media except those who are willing to become government reporters,” Bhasin said.

Under Modi, press freedom in India has steadily declined since its first election in 2014. Last year, India was ranked 142nd in the World Press Freedom Index by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders behind Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Nowhere has this fall been more flagrant than in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Authorities pressured newspapers by reprimanding editors and depriving them of advertising funds, their main source of income, to cool aggressive reporting.

“We have just tried to stay afloat and have barely been able to do proper journalism for various reasons, one being that we mainly depend on government advertisements,” said Sajjad Haider, editor of Kashmir Observer. .

For the most part, the newspapers appear to have cooperated and self-censored the stories, fearing they would be branded anti-national by a government that equates criticism with secessionism.

There have been press crackdowns in the region before, especially during times of mass public uprisings. But the ongoing crackdown is significantly worse.

Closure of the Kashmir Press Club

Last week, a few pro-Indian government journalists, with the help of armed police, took control of the Kashmir Press Club, the only independent press club in the valley. Authorities shut it down a day later, drawing heavy criticism from journalistic organizations.

A sealed lock hangs on the door of the closed Kashmir Press ClubA sealed lock hangs from the door of the closed Kashmir Press Club building in Srinagar [Dar Yasin/AP Photo]

The Editors Guild of India accused the government of being “brazenly complicit” and called it an “armed takeover”. Reporters Without Borders called it an “undeclared coup” and said the region is “gradually turning into a black hole for news and information”.

The Press Club is the latest civil society group in the region to face growing government repression. For the past two years, authorities have prevented the Kashmir High Court Bar Association and the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce from holding internal elections.

The government defended its decision citing “a potential public order situation” and “the safety of bona fide journalists”. He said the club had failed to register under a new law and hold elections for a new governing body.

The club said a new registration was granted by authorities after “six months of rigorous police checks” at the end of December, but was “on hold” a day later for unknown reasons.

The government’s decision contrasts sharply with its policies in the Hindu-dominated city of Jammu, where another press club continues to operate without having held an election for nearly five years.

Majid Maqbool, a local journalist, said the club has extended its institutional support to journalists working in difficult conditions. “It was like a second home for us,” he said.

Kashmiri Journalists Discuss Kashmir Press Club Shutdown Kashmiri journalists attend a meeting to discuss the closure of the Kashmir Press Club [Dar Yasin/AP]

Kashmir’s local journalists were often the only eyes on the ground for global audiences, especially after New Delhi banned foreign journalists from the region – unless they had official approval – a few years ago. years. Most of the reporting has focused on the Kashmir conflict and government crackdowns.

Authorities are now seeking to control any narrative seen as opposing the broad consensus in India that the region is an integral part of the country.

In this battle of stories, journalists have been reprimanded by authorities for not using the term “terrorists” to refer to separatist rebels. Government statements appear mostly on the front page, and statements by pro-India Kashmiri groups critical of Modi’s policies are rarely published.

Newspaper editorials reflecting the conflict are largely absent. Rare reporting on rights abuses is often dismissed as politically motivated fabrications, emboldening the region’s authoritarian military and police to muzzle the press.

Some journalists have been subjected to grueling hours of police questioning, a tactic condemned by the United Nations last year.

Aakash Hassan, a Kashmiri freelance journalist who writes mainly for the international press, said he has been summoned by Indian authorities at least seven times in the past two years.

Hassan said sometimes officers questioned his motives for reporting and “told me how to do journalism the right way.”

“It’s a way of deterring us from pressing charges,” he said, adding that police also questioned his parents several times and probed their finances.

“Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth being a journalist in Kashmir,” Hassan said. “But I know, silence doesn’t help.”

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India beats press freedom and journalists in Kashmir detained https://thebackwaterspress.org/india-beats-press-freedom-and-journalists-in-kashmir-detained/ Mon, 24 Jan 2022 02:06:21 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/india-beats-press-freedom-and-journalists-in-kashmir-detained/ SRINAGAR: For five years, Sajad Gul has written about the conflict ravaging Indian-occupied Kashmir, his homeland where resistance against New Delhi and India’s brutal response have raged for more than three decades. That changed on a snowy Wednesday night this month with a knock at his house. Gul was surrounded by Indian soldiers armed with […]]]>

SRINAGAR: For five years, Sajad Gul has written about the conflict ravaging Indian-occupied Kashmir, his homeland where resistance against New Delhi and India’s brutal response have raged for more than three decades.

That changed on a snowy Wednesday night this month with a knock at his house. Gul was surrounded by Indian soldiers armed with automatic rifles who loaded him into a vehicle and fled, winding down the snow-covered trail to Hajin, a quiet village about 30 kilometers from Srinagar, his mother, Gulshana, said.

Journalists have long faced various threats in the valley and found themselves caught between belligerents. But their situation has worsened dramatically since India revoked Kashmir’s semi-autonomy in 2019, placing it under a severe security and communications lockdown and the media in a black hole. A number of journalists have been arrested, interrogated and investigated under harsh laws. Fearing reprisals, the local press largely withered under the pressure.

Indian authorities appear determined to prevent journalists from doing their job, said Steven Butler, Asia coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Gul’s arrest, which CPJ condemned, underscored the rapid erosion of press freedom and the criminalization of journalists in detained Kashmir.

Police told Gul’s family that he was arrested for “inciting people to use violence”. A statement later described him as having a habit of spreading misinformation and false narratives on social media.

He was detained days after his single tweet linked to a video clip of a protest against Indian rule, following the killing of a Kashmiri fighter. He spent 11 days locked up before a court granted him bail.

Instead of releasing Gul, authorities charged him in a new case under the Public Security Law, which allows officials to jail anyone for up to two years without trial.

The media has always been tightly controlled in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Arm twisting and fear have been widely used to intimidate the press since 1989, when Kashmiris began fighting Indian soldiers.

The various media in the region have flourished despite the relentless pressure from the Indian authorities.

That changed in 2019, when authorities began bringing criminal charges against some journalists. Several of them were forced to reveal their sources, while others were physically assaulted.

The authorities created systematic fear and launched a direct attack on free media. There is total intolerance of even a single critical word, said Anuradha Bhasin, editor of the Kashmir Times.

Bhasin was among the few to petition India’s Supreme Court, resulting in a partial restoration of communications services after the 2019 power outage, which the government said was needed to block anti-protests. Indian.

But she soon found herself in the crosshairs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Bhasin’s newspaper office in Srinagar, operating out of a rented government building, was sealed off by authorities without notice. His staff were not allowed to take out equipment.

“They are killing local media except those who are willing to become government reporters,” Bhasin said.

Reduced freedom of the press

Under Narendra Modi, press freedom in India has steadily declined since its first election in 2014. Last year, India was ranked 142nd in the World Press Freedom Index by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders behind Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Nowhere has this slide been more blatant than in held Kashmir.

Authorities pressured newspapers by reprimanding editors and depriving them of advertising funds to cool aggressive reporting.

For the most part, the newspapers appear to have cooperated and self-censored the stories, fearing they would be branded anti-national by a government that equates criticism with secessionism.

“We have just tried to stay afloat and have barely been able to do proper journalism for various reasons, one being that we mainly depend on government advertisements,” said Sajjad Haider, editor of Kashmir Observer. .

There have been press crackdowns in the region before, especially during times of heightened resistance to Indian rule. But the ongoing crackdown is significantly worse.

Last week, a few pro-Indian government journalists, with the help of armed police, took control of the valley’s only independent press club. Authorities shut it down a day later, drawing heavy criticism from journalistic organizations.

The Editors Guild of India accused the government of being brazenly complicit and called it an armed takeover. Reporters Without Borders called it an undeclared coup and said the region was gradually turning into a black hole for news and information.

The press club is the latest civil society group in the region to face growing government repression. For the past two years, authorities have prevented the Kashmir High Court Bar Association and the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce from holding elections.

New Delhi defended its decision citing a potential public order situation and the safety of bona fide journalists. He said the club had failed to register under a new law and hold elections for a new governing body.

The Indian government’s move contrasts sharply with its policies in the Hindu-dominated city of Jammu, where another press club continues to operate without having held an election for five years.

Majid Maqbool, a journalist, said the club had extended its institutional support to journalists working in difficult conditions. “It was like a second home for us.”

Journalists were often the only eyes on the ground for global audiences, especially after New Delhi banned foreign journalists from the region without official permission a few years ago.

Authorities are now seeking to control any narrative seen as opposing the broad consensus in India that the region is an integral part of the country.

In this battle of stories, journalists have been reprimanded by authorities for not using the term terrorists to refer to anti-Indian fighters. Government statements appear mostly on the front page, and statements by groups critical of Modi’s policies are barely published.

Newspaper editorials reflecting the conflict are largely absent. Rare reporting on rights abuses is often dismissed as politically motivated fabrications, emboldening authoritarian military and police to muzzle the press.

Some journalists have been subjected to grueling hours of police questioning, a tactic condemned by the United Nations last year.

Aakash Hassan, a Kashmiri freelance journalist who writes mainly for the international press, said he has been summoned seven times by Indian authorities in the past two years.

Hassan said sometimes officers questioned his “motives for reporting and lecturing me on how to do journalism the right way.”

“It’s a way of dissuading us from filing a complaint,” he said, adding that the police questioned his parents several times and probed their finances.

“Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth being a journalist in Kashmir,” Hassan said. “But I know silence doesn’t help.

Posted in Dawn, January 24, 2022

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In Kashmir, India defeats press freedom — and journalists | world news https://thebackwaterspress.org/in-kashmir-india-defeats-press-freedom-and-journalists-world-news/ Sun, 23 Jan 2022 04:09:22 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/in-kashmir-india-defeats-press-freedom-and-journalists-world-news/ By AIJAZ HUSSAIN and SHEIKH SAALIQ, Associated Press SRINAGAR, India (AP) — For five years, Sajad Gul has written about the conflict ravaging his homeland, a disputed Himalayan territory where violent armed rebellion and India’s brutal counterinsurgency have raged for more than three decades. That changed on a snowy Wednesday evening in January with a […]]]>

By AIJAZ HUSSAIN and SHEIKH SAALIQ, Associated Press

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — For five years, Sajad Gul has written about the conflict ravaging his homeland, a disputed Himalayan territory where violent armed rebellion and India’s brutal counterinsurgency have raged for more than three decades.

That changed on a snowy Wednesday evening in January with a knock at his house. Gul was surrounded by Indian soldiers armed with automatic rifles who loaded him into a vehicle and sped off, crossing the snowy track of Hajin, a quiet village about 20 miles from Srinagar, the region’s main town. , said her mother, Gulshana, who only uses one name.

Journalists have long faced various threats in Indian-controlled Kashmir and found themselves caught between belligerents. But their situation has worsened considerably since India revoked the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019, throwing Kashmir under a severe security and communications lockdown and the media into a black hole. A year later, the government’s new media policy aimed to more effectively control the press to censor independent reporting.

Dozens of people have been arrested, interrogated and investigated under tough anti-terrorism laws. Fearing reprisals, the local press largely withered under the pressure.

Political cartoons about world leaders

political cartoons

“Indian authorities seem determined to prevent journalists from doing their job,” said Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Gul’s arrest, which CPJ condemned, underscored the rapid erosion of press freedom and the criminalization of journalists in Kashmir.

Police told Gul’s family that he was arrested for inciting people to “use violence and disturb public order”. A police statement later described him as “habitual of spreading misinformation” and “false narratives” on social media.

He was detained days after his single tweet linked to a video clip of a protest against Indian rule, following the killing of a Kashmiri rebel. He spent 11 days locked up before a local court granted him bail.

Instead of releasing Gul, authorities charged him in a new case under the Public Security Law, which allows officials to jail anyone for up to two years without trial.

“My son is not a criminal,” Gulshana said. “He was just writing. »

The media has always been tightly controlled in the Indian part of Muslim-majority Kashmir. Arm twisting and fear have been widely used to intimidate the press since 1989, when rebels began fighting Indian soldiers in a bid to establish an independent Kashmir or a union with Pakistan. Pakistan controls the other part of Kashmir and both counties fiercely claim the entire territory.

The fighting left tens of thousands dead. Yet Kashmir’s diverse media have thrived despite relentless pressure from Indian authorities and rebel groups.

That changed in 2019, when authorities began bringing criminal charges against some journalists. Several of them were forced to reveal their sources, while others were physically assaulted.

“The authorities have created systematic fear and launched a direct attack on free media. There is complete intolerance of even a single critical word,” said Anuradha Bhasin, editor of the Kashmir Times, a leading English daily established in 1954.

Bhasin was among the few to petition India’s Supreme Court, resulting in a partial restoration of communications services after the 2019 power outage, which the government said was needed to block anti-protests. Indian.

But she soon found herself in the crosshairs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Bhasin’s legacy newspaper office in Srinagar, operating out of a rented government building, was sealed off by authorities without notice. His staff were not allowed to take out equipment.

“They are killing local media except those who are willing to become government reporters,” Bhasin said.

Under Modi, press freedom in India has steadily declined since its first election in 2014. Last year, India was ranked 142nd in the World Press Freedom Index by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders behind Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

Nowhere has this slide been more flagrant than in Kashmir.

Authorities pressured newspapers by reprimanding editors and depriving them of advertising funds, their main source of income, to cool aggressive reporting.

For the most part, the newspapers appear to have cooperated and self-censored the stories, fearing they would be branded anti-national by a government that equates criticism with secessionism.

“We have just tried to stay afloat and have barely been able to do proper journalism for various reasons, one being that we mainly depend on government advertisements,” said Sajjad Haider, editor of Kashmir Observer. .

There have been press crackdowns in the region before, especially during times of mass public uprisings. But the ongoing crackdown is significantly worse.

Last week, a few pro-Indian government journalists, with the help of armed police, took control of the only independent media club in the Kashmir Valley. Authorities shut it down a day later, drawing heavy criticism from journalistic organizations.

The Editors Guild of India accused the government of being “brazenly complicit” and called it an “armed takeover”. Reporters Without Borders called it an “undeclared coup” and said the region is “gradually turning into a black hole for news and information”.

The government defended its decision citing “a potential public order situation” and “the safety of bona fide journalists”. He said the club had failed to register under a new law and hold elections for a new governing body.

The club said a new registration was granted by authorities after “six months of rigorous police checks” at the end of December, but was “on hold” a day later for unknown reasons.

Majid Maqbool, a local journalist, said the club has extended its institutional support to journalists working in difficult conditions. “It was like a second home for us,” he said.

Kashmir’s local journalists were often the only eyes on the ground for global audiences, especially after New Delhi banned foreign journalists from the region without official approval a few years ago. Most of the reporting has focused on the Kashmir conflict and government crackdowns. Authorities are now seeking to control any narrative seen as opposing the broad consensus in India that the region is an integral part of the country.

In this battle of stories, journalists have been reprimanded by authorities for not using the term “terrorists” to refer to separatist rebels. Government statements appear mostly on the front page, and statements by pro-India Kashmiri groups critical of Modi’s policies are barely published.

Newspaper editorials reflecting the conflict are largely absent. Rare reporting on rights abuses is often dismissed as politically motivated fabrications, emboldening the region’s authoritarian military and police to muzzle the press.

Some journalists have been subjected to grueling hours of police questioning, a tactic condemned by the United Nations last year.

Aakash Hassan, a Kashmiri freelance journalist who writes mainly for the international press, said he has been summoned by Indian authorities at least seven times in the past two years.

Hassan said that sometimes officers question his motives for reporting and “lecture me about how to do journalism the right way”.

“It’s a way of deterring us from pressing charges,” he said, adding that police also questioned his parents several times and probed their finances.

“Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth being a journalist in Kashmir,” Hassan said. “But I know, silence doesn’t help.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Press freedom fighter Jodie Ginsburg expands her fight https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-fighter-jodie-ginsburg-expands-her-fight/ Mon, 17 Jan 2022 19:41:53 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/press-freedom-fighter-jodie-ginsburg-expands-her-fight/ Jodie Ginsberg was running a small free speech organization in London in 2014 when Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab walked into her office. He had recently been released from prison for organizing democratic rallies during the Arab Spring and posting tweets that the Bahrain monarchy found offensive. He made Ms Ginsberg realize how important […]]]>

Jodie Ginsberg was running a small free speech organization in London in 2014 when Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab walked into her office.

He had recently been released from prison for organizing democratic rallies during the Arab Spring and posting tweets that the Bahrain monarchy found offensive. He made Ms Ginsberg realize how important it was for her colleagues who remained in prison to know that people were fighting for them.

When Mr. Rajab was again thrown into prison soon after his return to Bahrain, Ms. Ginsberg held vigils outside the Bahraini embassy, ​​stayed in regular contact with his family to document his condition and campaigned vehemently for his release.

“One of the reasons my case became known internationally was Jodie,” Mr Rajab said of Bahrain’s modern capital, Manama, where he is serving the final year of his final sentence, for voicing anti-government dissent on Twitter, from home.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, one of the world’s largest press watchdog organizations, recently announced that Ms Ginsberg would become its new chair in April.

Ms. Ginsberg, veteran journalist and free speech advocate, takes over at a time when journalists are increasingly under threat, with a record number of incarcerations around the world and press freedom attacks on the rise in the United States.

It’s a challenge she’s passionate about, says Ginsberg. A optimistic who has helped many outspoken artists and imprisoned activists gain international attention, she believes that “journalism is essential if we are to have free, independent and tolerant societies”.

“The experience of being persecuted for your work is extremely isolating,” Ms Ginsberg said, referring to Mr Rajab’s case. “And it’s even worse if you don’t feel that people are showing solidarity.”

Growing up in a middle-class family in Potters Bar, a suburban town just north of London, Ms Ginsberg carried a pencil and paper with her as a child and regularly broadcast newscasts for her grandparents , posing as a foreign correspondent like the BBC’s Kate Adie. Hired by Reuters out of graduate school, Ms Ginsberg soon got her big break by traveling to Johannesburg as a business correspondent. Later she ran the large London bureau of Reuters, overseeing a team of 45 journalists, writing about the 2008 banking crisis and covering the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Although her former boss, David Schlesinger, described her as passionate and fearless, Ms Ginsberg said she never personally felt threatened because of her work. It was later, after she became the head of a small non-profit free speech organization, Censorship Index, that she was passionate about protecting journalists, even in the seemingly least likely place: the United States.

“In 2018, I was on a press freedom mission in the United States and I clearly remember these two White House correspondents talking about how they received death threats on a daily basis, as if c was normal,” she said from her home in Cambridge, England. “I was horrified.”

“It made me go from being a journalist by profession to being a journalist lawyer,” she said.

Ms Ginsberg has spent the past two years heading the European branch of Internews, a large non-profit organization that trains and supports freelance journalists around the world. Three days after arriving in March 2020, the company announced a trial lockdown due to a strange new global virus. Employees have still not returned to the London office.

Understanding that freelance journalists already working on shoestring budgets would need to cover the pandemic quickly, she helped get the ball rolling. a new fund which has offered some 180 grants to journalists and news organizations around the world.

“I strongly believe that we can only make decisions about ourselves and our world if we have the information to do so,” said Ms Ginsberg, 44, a married mother of two.

The Committee to Protect Journalists was created in 1981 by two American journalists who had worked in parallel to raise awareness about the case of Alcibíades González Delvalle, a Paraguayan columnist and critic of his country’s military government who had been arrested for one of his columns.

A few weeks after their campaign, Mr. González Delvalle was released. Realizing that no other organization was monitoring press freedom from the United States, the two journalists, Michael Massing and Laurie Nadel, assembled a board of distinguished, award-winning journalists from major organizations such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Washington Post and CBS. Renowned CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, recently retired, has signed on as honorary chairman of the group. Its mandate was to protect journalists outside America who did not have First Amendment shelter or ready access to human rights lawyers.

“We felt we had those protections and privileges, unlike other countries,” said Massing, who still sits on the board. “We would use our own influence and prestige in America to help journalists in other countries.”

Since then, CPJ has grown into one of the world’s leading press freedom organizations, with an annual budget of $10 million, more than 50 staff and contractors, and a global presence that stretches from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Guatemala City and New Delhi.

In 2001, it expanded its mandate from raising awareness of journalists under threat to directly helping some of them, offering emergency funds to hire lawyers, obtain medical treatment or flee their country.

Last year, the organization helped around 60 journalists and their families evacuate Afghanistan after the Taliban took power.

CPJ is currently assisting with the case of Jeffrey Moyo, a Zimbabwean freelance journalist who works with the New York Times and faces criminal charges under the country’s immigration law for helping two Times reporters enter the Zimbabwe last year.

The organization’s successes, however, have been wiped out by increasing attacks on journalists, not just in places where authoritarian governments rule, but in the United States, where former President Donald J. Trump repeatedly decried the press, a tactic he has continued since leaving office one year ago.

When CPJ’s longtime executive director Joel Simon announced he would step down effective late last year, he said it was with waning optimism.

“The decline in press freedom has produced more cases – more journalists who need support, so you have to respond to those people,” Mr Simon said in an interview. “But if you do that exclusively, you kind of swim in place. Ultimately, you want the situation to improve. So how do you both support journalists who are currently under threat and address broader challenges to press freedom in a constructive way? »

Ms. Ginsberg agrees. “We want journalists to be safe so that people have access to a free and independent press,” she said. “And that means addressing systemic issues that threaten the safety of journalists, not just working on individual cases.”

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“Malta must do better to guarantee media freedom” https://thebackwaterspress.org/malta-must-do-better-to-guarantee-media-freedom/ Fri, 14 Jan 2022 11:29:43 +0000 https://thebackwaterspress.org/malta-must-do-better-to-guarantee-media-freedom/ International press freedom organizations said in a statement today that their offer of technical assistance in implementing the findings of the public inquiry was not accepted by Prime Minister Robert Abela , despite his claim to have carried out wide and meaningful consultation before appointing a committee to oversee press freedom reforms. “We are concerned […]]]>

International press freedom organizations said in a statement today that their offer of technical assistance in implementing the findings of the public inquiry was not accepted by Prime Minister Robert Abela , despite his claim to have carried out wide and meaningful consultation before appointing a committee to oversee press freedom reforms.

“We are concerned about the lack of transparent consultation with civil society and key stakeholders in this process to date. We urge the prime minister to engage in meaningful and transparent consultation in the future, including by releasing a media freedom bill,” nine international organizations said in a statement reacting to the government’s announcement of the people. appointed to the committee.

On Tuesday, the government announced the people chosen to serve on the committee tasked with implementing press freedom reforms following recommendations from the findings of the public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The government’s decision follows a detailed bill presented by the opposition to follow up on the recommendations of the public inquiry. Since the publication of the public inquiry in July 2021, the only decision taken by the government so far has been to appoint the committee and this has sparked controversy despite the Prime Minister‘s claims of consensus.

International organizations that have reacted to the government’s announcement include the American Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Press Institute (IPI), the European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF ), the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the largest union of journalists – the European Federation of Journalists.

They say their offer of support was not accepted by the government. “Although our offer of technical assistance to the Prime Minister has not been accepted to date, we remain ready to accompany the process”.

The government-announced committee includes Savior Balzan, co-owner of Media Today, and the online editor of one of his newspapers, Kurt Sansone. Times of Malta deputy editor Matthew Xuereb, academic Carmen Sammut, The Malta Independent editor Neil Camilleri, criminology professor Savior Formosa and lawyer Kevin Dingli.

“During our meetings and communications with Prime Minister Abela, our organizations underline the need for the full independence of the Commission of Experts to ensure that the mandate of the Commission meets international standards and that the composition of the Commission reflects the expertise of the press and the role it plays in a democracy: knowledge and experience necessary to effectively assume all the responsibilities,” the statement from the international organizations adds.

They stressed the need for the commission to fulfill the obligations resulting from the public inquiry and “to act free from government influence”.

Recommendations from the public inquiry include the recognition in law of journalism as the fourth pillar of democracy, and the need to create an enabling environment for independent journalism and measures to combat impunity, corruption and abuse. to be able to.

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