China has introduced new rules to restrict journalism. The rules say that journalists and their news organizations are forbidden from initiating critical reporting that has not been approved.
The new rules also prohibit a host of other journalistic activities. Reporters may not do reporting across industries or focus areas . News outlets are forbidden from establishing businesses in advertising, publishing or public relations.
And they can't even circulate critical documents internally or on private websites. +
The government rules seem related to recent announcement that over 14,000 press cards had been revoked for supposedly bogus journalists. The measures also appear designed to address corruption scandals involving news outlets found to be
practicing black PR, obtaining profits through paid-for content.
The government had just announced that month that reporters were not allowed to report anything, even on their own blogs and social media sites , that had not been approved by an editor at their news organization. The announcement was aimed at
heading off enterprising--and increasingly frustrated--reporters who would often release directly to their own readers information that had not survived their publications' editing and censorship processes.
On April 11, several Myanmar newspapers and journals blacked-out their front pages to protest the jailing of journalists by the national government.
The Myanmar Journalist Network says five journalists are currently detained in Myanmar, despite the government's commitment to further expand media freedom in the country.
The protest was organized right after a multimedia reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an independent online publication, was sentenced by a local court to one year in prison for trespassing on government property and disrupting the
work of a government official. The case involved Zaw Pe, a reporter covering a Japanese-funded scholarship program in 2012. He was accused of trespassing after attempting to visit and take footage at an office of the national Department of
Education in central Myanmar during office hours.
In an interview with Irawaddy.com, DVB bureau chief Toe Zaw Latt called the sentence outrageous :
He was taking the video recording during office hours. It's outrageous that he is being sentenced for trespassing...We have to question the degree of press freedom in the country.
These are not good signs for press freedom, if journalists have to face a lawsuit for covering news during office hours. We are worried that these actions might be a sign of restrictions in press freedom again, as it was in the past.
Thousands rallied outside Hong Kong's government headquarters on Sunday, demanding the city's leader uphold media freedoms amid growing anger toward perceived behind-the-scenes intrusions on local media outlets.
Tensions have been rising between forces backing democratic institutions in Hong Kong and China's Communist Party leaders, as the city proceeds with political reforms that could lead to an unprecedented direct election for its next leader in
Carrying Free Speech, Free Hong Kong banners, some 6,000 protesters, including working journalists, demanded Hong Kong protect media freedoms as a core value underpinning the financial hub's success and global reputation.
In recent years, Hong Kong journalist and rights groups have warned of mainland Chinese propaganda officials influencing local newsrooms, deepening ties between Hong Kong media bosses and Beijing, greater censorship, and the dismissal of
influential liberal journalists.
Activists say the firing of a popular radio talk show host opposed to the local government earlier this month is proof of encroaching censorship. Staff at the Ming Pao newspaper, known for independent reporting critical of China, have also
criticized the appointment of an editor with suspected pro-Beijing leanings.
In Turkey , around 200 journalists protested against censorship and government pressure on the media . Many referred to the ruling party when they chanted AK Party get your hands off the media .
Last week, recordings were leaked on the Internet purportedly of Turkish TV executives manipulating an opinion poll and sacking reporters under government pressure. Journalist Hilmi Hacaloglu explained:
The government is trying to control the media by using the bosses or the journalists close to them. Journalists are saying they've had enough and we gathered here in the traditional press district.
The protests have reignited a debate about restrictions on press freedom , something the EU candidate nation is very familiar with.
Independent Iraqi daily newspaper Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed has survived numerous attempts to destroy it over its 10 year existence. But on 10 February, the newspaper's Baghdad office was bombed and now its future is in doubt. The daily may need to find
a new office, employees are fleeing, and its website is facing one DoS attack after another.
A few hours later the bombing a militia-like group entered the building. They came threatening us in broad daylight, so to speak, says Ismael Zayer, editor in chief. The group escaped after employees managed to warn the police.
The bomb attacks followed a social media campaign to demand the closure of the newspaper after it published its weekly supplement Zad on 6 February. The supplement was devoted to the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and on the
cover featured a caricature of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The cover caricature is a tradition for Zad, a supplement that came into existence in the first months of the Arab Spring. These cartoons are never intended to be
offensive or convey a negative message, they are just an alternative to uninteresting photos of VIPs.
Azerbaijani campaigners have called on their government to refrain from preventing public events amid claims the country's authorities recently blocked the screening of a documentary on freedom of artistic expression.
Art claims democracy was set to run at the Park Inn Hotel, Baku, on January 24 as part of the Art for Democracy campaign; but the hotel turned off the electricity for the event.
The power outage was limited only to the second floor of the building, the floor on which the documentary film was to be aired. Organisers confronted hotel staff at the time who claimed it to be a technical problem. According to Art for Democracy
some hotel employees later unofficially admitted the power shortage was a result of pressures on the hotel management.
India's largest and most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has been accused of taking the country's most popular English news channel, Times Now , off the air following a wave of critical reporting. The so-called ban also extended to another
channel, India News . The move led to a widespread backlash, and both channels have been restored.
While the background causes for the ban were slowly built up over time, the immediate one was Times Now's dogged coverage of a star-studded Bollywood event at a time when victims of a riot in the town of Muzzafarnagar had been left in the bitter
cold to fend for themselves in relief camps.
Juxtaposing images of the young Chief Minister watching nubile Bollywood starlets gyrate to the latest hit songs with images of a little child shivering in relief camps, the channels demanded to know, among other things, why the event was taking
place and where the money was coming from.
Netizens in Malaysia are having difficulty accessing a BBC story on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak being derided online for a comment on rising prices, raising fears that the Internet was being censored in the country.
This goes against the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) charter, in which the Malaysian Government guarantees the Internet would not be censored, barring special circumstances.
The BBC article, entitled #BBCtrending: Be careful what you say about spinach, chronicles the recent uproar over a statement made by Najib that the price of kangkung (or Chinese water spinach) has gone down. In a video that has gone viral, he
lamented the fact that the Government has not been praised for this, but is being criticised for the rising cost of living.
His statement has been attacked by Opposition leaders and civil advocates for being insensitive to the plight of average Malaysians, who this year face a slew of price hikes and subsidy reductions.
Internet users in Malaysia reported difficulty accessing the specific BBC post beginning late last night (January 15), with timeouts occurring after a long wait for the page to load, while the rest of the BBC site remained accessible.
Responding to queries by Digital News Asia (DNA), security expert and freelance IT solutions provider @sniiffit said that in a nutshell, what was being done is that all packets requesting the specific page were being dropped at the ISP level.
The Chinese government has intensified its control over the country's news media since Xi Jinping became president in March last year, reports the Washington Post.
Its domestic journalists risk getting fired and even jailed for their work. Censorship has been stepped up. And new restrictions require them to seek permission before meeting foreign reporters and business people. Chinese journalism schools have
been told that a provincial propaganda official will be appointed in a senior management role at every institution.
In addition, Chinese reporters have been forced to attend ideological training meant to impart the 'Marxist view' of journalism and to pass a multiple-choice examination on their knowledge of the Communist Party's myriad slogans.
It seems that the Beijing government is alarmed about the growing impact of social media and the way in which critical stories can spread around in an instant. Xi, in a speech last August, said:
We have to make sure the front of the internet is firmly controlled by people who are loyal to Marxism, loyal to the party and loyal to the people.
Malaysian journalists and activists banded together and organized a red pencil protest early this month in reaction to the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs to suspend news weekly magazine The Heat for an indefinite period.
Protesters accused authorities of suspending The Heat in retaliation for publishing a story on the spending habits of the Prime Minister and his wife.
More than 200 people gathered to demonstrate in downtown Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital. Participants belonged to the Gerakan Media Marah ( Geramm ) or Angry Media Movement, a loose coalition of journalists which was formed to push for
greater media freedom in the country.
During the protest, red pencils were broken in half to symbolize the violence perpetrated against the media. Fathi Aris Omar, spokesman of Geramm and editor of online media site Malaysiakini, explained further the meaning of the red pencil:
The red pencil represents journalists who were injured (in the past, by the authorities) and a culture of control by the powers that be.
Listen to the breaking sound. That is the suffering of journalists and the media when it is broken .
Journalists of the 'Freedom and Justice' Paper have protested the banning and confiscation of the paper, describing the decision as illegal.
According to the statement, the paper had been previously confiscated; the first time was on 4 July, the day following what they call the coup . The statement added that the 200 journalists and staff had been working in extremely
stressful conditions , as they have been suffering from incessant police harassments .
The statement listed the names of a number of its journalists who had died, been injured and detained while covering clashes. The statement also announced a strike:
We call on the head and board of the Press Syndicate to make an urgent statement about this ban, and we call on all the colleagues to support our justified case. We hereby announce that we will begin a strike in the Press Syndicate until we are
capable of doing our job without any of the security's interference.
The Ministry of Interior gave a statement announcing the ban of the Freedom and Justice Paper, which is considered one of the media outlets of the Freedom and Justice Party, the the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Activists in Saudi Arabia face a repressive and intolerant government as they advocate popular political participation, judicial reform, and an end to discrimination against women and minorities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released
today. Authorities have responded by arresting, prosecuting, and attempting to silence rights defenders and to quash their calls for change.
The 48-page report, Challenging the Red Lines: Stories of Rights Activists in Saudi Arabia, presents the stories of 11 prominent Saudi social and political rights activists and their struggles to resist government efforts to suppress them.
The activists have used new media, including news websites and blogs, and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, to build relationships with one another, discuss ideas and strategies for change, and develop public platforms to
disseminate their reform message.
Saudi activists are using new media to take their government to task for rampant rights abuses, said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. The Saudi authorities think they can use intimidation and prison terms to
stop the criticism, but the activists are finding ways to voice their concerns until they are heard.
The United States says it is concerned by reports the Malian government threatened to shut down a local website, after it published an article about an AP reporter's quest to find the bodies of civilians allegedly killed by Mali's
The editor of Maliactu.net said he was forced to take down the article after getting threatening phone calls from the Malian military and its government.
Wang Qinglei, producer of the TV program Twenty-Four Hours at China Central Television (CCTV) was forced to resign, and announced it on his micro-blog. His leaving the network was triggered by Wang's blogging about his disdain for the
CCTV's propaganda attacking bloggers.
His farewell blog post, Leaving Some True Words for This Time in History, was blocked by the following morning, and any reposts or quotes shared online have been blocked as well.
His main concerns are the suffocating control the Chinese authorities have over the media in general and his job personally. Wang wrote:
It's getting more and more painful to be a newsman. There are too many news stories that we can't report, and when it comes to news that we can report, no one believes it anymore because there is an agenda in it.
As a journalist with conscience, the subjects I wanted to report, to voice, and the viewpoints that I wanted to express were constantly rejected or cut off. In a single year, I received more than 1,000 pieces of prohibitions for curbing news,
Wang wrote. China needs truth. People ought to have the right to criticize the government and the authorities. They should have the right to criticize social injustice, systemic inadequacies, and interest groups.
Vietnamese bloggers have launched a new instrument for free expression: the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers (NVB).
The network aims to ensure that the Vietnamese government implements its obligations and commitments to the UNHRC through actions rather than mere political statements. Stating that, as Vietnam's membership to the UNHRC means that all of its 90
million citizens are now members of the Council, the NVB will strive to uphold core values in the promoting and protection of human rights.
Chi Dang, Director of Overseas Support for the Free Journalist Network in Vietnam, stated that it was crucial that the launch of the network had international support as this has "proven to provide effective protection for our bloggers on
Togolese authorities shut down the leading private Radio Legende FM on August 27, 2013, after suspending the station for one month in connection with its coverage of concluded parliamentary elections, according to news reports.
Togo's Broadcast and Communications High Authority (HAAC) on July 25, 2013, suspended Radio Le'gende for one month after the station broadcasted live that electoral fraud was being perpetrated in the home of a local official. The allegations
proved false, according to news reports . Police shut down the station during the live broadcast without a warrant, news reports said .
On August 23, 2013, two days before the suspension expired, HAAC announced that it had refused to renew the station's authorization to operate, according to news reports . The decision, which was published in the state-run daily Togo Press ,
cited the failure of Flavien Johnson, the station's managing director, to attend a meeting convened by HAAC to discuss the renewal of the station's expired license, as well as other perceived offenses the station had committed in the past,
according to news reports .
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a decision by Tanzanian authorities to suspend two leading private Swahili dailies on accusations of sedition. The government issued a statement on Friday suspending Mwananchi and MTanzania for 14 and
90 days respectively.
CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said:
The government could have taken their grievances against Mwananchi and MTanzania to the Media Council of Tanzania, an ombudsman, rather than summarily suspending the publications. We call on authorities to allow the papers to resume publication
and to reform the laws that allow these suspensions, which are not in line with international standards of press freedom.
The statement said that Mwananchi s suspension was in connection with a story published on July 17, called New Government Salary Scheme 2013, which was allegedly based on a classified document. Mwananchi Managing Editor Tido Mhando said
the paper had published the article to inform the public, according to news reports .
Tanzanian authorities also banned MTanzania, part of the New Habari Publishers company, in connection with articles that alleged police involvement in attacks against citizens and suggested government incompetency in contending with terrorist
threats. The statement pointed out three articles: "The Bloody Presidency," published on March 20; "Revolution Cannot Be Avoided," published on June 12; and "The Government Stinks of Blood," published on September
Sudan's authorities have forced closure of country's largest daily newspaper
At the end of September, Al-Intibaha's official website said that authorities had ordered the halt indefinitely.
The paper, the country's largest in terms of circulation, is owned and run by al-Tayab Mustafa, the president's uncle. The closure comes after a week of Sudan's most extensive demonstrations in years , which began as a protest against fuel price
The two most influential independent newspapers in Sudan, Al-Sahafa and Al-Kartoum, have recently been bought by the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS).
The NISS now owns 90% of all the independent newspapers in the country, according to Alnoor Ahmed Alnoor, the ex-editor in chief of Al-Sahafa.
The NISS purchased 65% of Al-Sahafa's stock from a company called Bayader and a further 25% from Sideeq Wadaa, a businessman and member of the ruling NCP Party (with the remainder retained by the paper's founder, Taha Ali Albashir). This follows
the purchase of 80% of the stock of Al-Khartoum from its owner, Albagir Abdellah, five months ago.
Ownership represents the final stage in the Sudanese government's campaign to silence independent voices in the media. Newspapers that refused to tow the NCP line or implement its agendas faced harassment, and fifteen newspapers were forcibly
closed following the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Punitive taxes were also imposed, as was the case with the Al-Sudani between 2006 to 2011, which eventually forced the paper's owner to sell it to a member of the NCP.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by a Moscow court's decision to grant a request by the Federal Agency for the Supervision of Communications, Roskomnadzor, for the withdrawal of the news agency Rosbalt s licence.
This grave decision sets an extremely dangerous precedent for freedom of information in Russia and we urge the judicial system to overturn it on appeal.
Rosbalt has fallen victim not only to a repressive law with disproportionate penalties but also to absurd and unfair judicial proceedings. It has been punished for content it did not produce on the basis of inadmissible evidence, and before any
court examined its appeals against the warning previously issued in this matter.
Rosbalt s CEO Larisa Afonina told Reporters Without Borders that the news agency would appeal against the closure order.
The apparent reasons for such drastic censorship seems trivial indeed. Two offending videos cited in the lawsuit were posted during the past summer. One, about the punk group Pussy Riot entitled The girls have sung a new song was posted on
the Rosbalt site on 16 July. The other, entitled Krasnodar guy , shows a man with an axe being arrested.
Rosbalt said it took both videos from YouTube. The swearwords are uttered by the protagonists of the videos, not the news agency's staff. Rosbalt complied immediately when Roskomnadzor requested the removal of the videos on 27 July.
The news agency was therefore amazed to learn at the start of October that Roskomnadzor had brought two complaints against it (one for each video) and was seeking nothing less than its closure .
On Thursday, Kenya's National Assembly passed the third reading of the Kenya Information and Communications Bill. It will allow government to censor the media with an iron hand. It is now up to President Uhuru Kenyatta to decide whether to sign
this Bill into law, or to return it to the National Assembly.
The key problem in the new Bill is the creation of a Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal which has been given sweeping powers to discipline the media. It can levy fines of up to Sh20 million on media houses and seize their property if
they do not pay. This is a big enough fine to put most media houses out of business. It is grossly excessive. By comparison, the normal highest award for libel is Sh6 million.
The tribunal can also impose fines of Sh1 million on individual journalists and remove their practicing certificates, which will effectively ban them from working. It is unconstitutional to ban journalists from writing. It infringes freedom of
The tribunal does not have to follow any guidelines in deciding whether a journalist or media house has infringed the code of ethics. It is not bound by rules of evidence . It can decide whatever it wants. It can rule that a particular
story was insulting to the president of a neighbouring country, or a politician, or whoever, and fine the media house accordingly.
The tribunal can use its big stick any way it wants to, without justification and without rules.
To make matters worse, this tribunal is directly appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Information. He appoints the selection panel and chooses the tribunal members based on their recommendations.
The only hope now is that President Uhuru Kenyatta has always insisted that he is fully committed to maintaining a free media. Uhuru must send this Bill back to Parliament. Otherwise Kenya is doomed to censorship.
Reporters Without Borders welcomes a Kuala Lumpur appeal court decision rejecting an appeal by the government and interior ministry against a court ruling in favour of allowing the Malaysiakini news website to publish a print version:
Yesterday's ruling is encouraging for freedom of information in Malaysia.
The government's behaviour is clearly indicative of a desire to control the media, while the judicial system seems opposed to this. But caution is needed. The government will probably challenge this latest decision and Malaysiakini has yet to
obtain a licence to print, which only the interior ministry can issue.
As we pointed out in an open letter to the prime minister in May 2012, real progress is still needed for freedom of information in Malaysia. We offer our full support for independent media and Malaysiakini in their efforts to resist government
A Vietnamese court today sentenced independent blogger Dinh Nhat Uy to a 15-month suspended prison term and one year of house arrest in connection with his posts on Facebook, according to news reports . The Committee to Protect Journalists
condemns the verdict and calls on Vietnamese authorities to end their escalating campaign of harassment against independent bloggers.
In a one-day trial, a Long An province court ruled that Uy's use of Facebook to campaign for his brother's release from prison on anti-state propaganda charges was in breach of Article 258 in the criminal code, a vague charge that bans abusing
democratic freedoms. News reports said Uy's conviction was the first against a blogger or dissident specifically for using Facebook.
Uy had been calling for the release of his brother, Dinh Nguyen Kha, a computer technician, who was sentenced in June to eight years in prison--reduced to four years on appeal--for anti-government propaganda.
Four journalists, Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Sener (Turkey), and Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam) will be honored by the Committee to Protect Journalists for courageous reporting
A Bangladesh court has indicted four bloggers for their supposedly inflammatory writings about Islam and the religious character Muhammad.
This will be the first case to be tried under Bangladesh's recently amended Information and Communication Technology Act, enacted after widespread violent street protests demanding the blood of atheist bloggers. The new law features extreme
punishments of up to 14 years in jail.
The opening of the trial was set for 6th November.
Cameroon's National Communications Council has closed down 11 newspapers, television and radio stations. Journalists say these private media outlets are being silenced because they are critical of the government.
Cameroon's state radio CRTV announced the suspension of three radio stations, a television station and seven newspapers. The report said Cameroon's National Communications Council also suspended a journalist and two publishers.
The journalists and media organs were accused of failing to respect professional norms and ethics. But Ngah Christian Mpipgo, publisher of the Guardian Post --- one of the suspended newspapers --- called the act an abuse of press freedom:
I mean, I look at it as some kind of repression. It is understood that the Guardian Post is too critical of government action, and then coming at a time when we are preparing for elections, I have to just conclude that it is a way of stopping us
from exposing a well-planned government rigging machinery.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by a Dakar criminal court's decision to close the privately-owned newspaper Le Quotidien for three months and sentence its editor, Madiambal Diagne, to a month in prison and a damages of 10 million CFA
francs (15,000 euros) for an article criticizing a former foreign minister.
The court also imposed one-month jail terms on one of the newspaper's reporters, Mamadou Biaye , and a French intern who is no longer in Senegal. The case was brought by former foreign minister Alioune Badara Cisse' -- usually referred to as ABC
in the Senegalese media -- over an article published on 20 June.
Reporters Without Borders said:
The court's decision is highly regrettable because it means the authorities are refusing to defend media freedom. Despite repeated calls by journalists and the international community, the decriminalization of press offences is still not on the
agenda in Senegal.
Egyptian security forces continue to detain and harass journalists working for news outlets critical of the military-led government, particularly Al-Jazeera and its affiliates.
The Ministry of Investment has said it would ban Al-Jazeera Mubashir, the network's Egyptian affiliate, because it lacked the required legal permits, according to news reports . The statement accused the channel of spreading lies and rumors
damaging to Egyptian national security and unity. The Ministry of Interior issued a statement saying it had confiscated two broadcasting cars and equipment from Al-Jazeera Mubashir.
Egyptian security forces detained without charge four staff of Al-Jazeera English, including correspondent Wayne Hay, cameraman Adil Bradlow, and producers Russ Finn and Baher Mohammed, the station reported. Al-Jazeera Arabic correspondent
Abdullah al-Shami and Al-Jazeera Mubashir cameraman Mohamed Bader had been arrested earlier this month while covering protests and held under charges of threatening national security and possessing weapons, respectively.
Al-Jazeera Mubashir's office was raided and shut down on July 3, shortly after the military announced Morsi's removal. Its sister channel, Al-Jazeera Arabic, was raided in mid-August and shut down. Both stations continue to broadcast from Qatar
with feeds from inside Egypt.
A Cairo court ordered on Tuesday Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr be taken off air . The administrative court ruling also banned Al-Yarmouk, Al-Quds and Ahrar 25, regarded as channels linked to Islamists, off the Egyptian airwaves .
The news channel has come under fire as local media and authorities accused it of bias against the popularly-backed overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails. Egyptian
officials even said Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr posed a threat to national security. The three other channels were also blamed for one-sided reporting in favour of the Brotherhood and its supporters.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an amendment to a media law adopted by the Gambian parliament that imposes lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines on individuals who use the Internet in any capacity to criticize government
Peter Nkanga, CPJ's West Africa consultant said:
Gambian authorities are trying to protect themselves by denying their citizens the right to use modern communications fully. This amendment should be repealed immediately.
The Gambian Parliament on July 4 amended the 2009 Information and Communication Act to introduce a 15-year jail term and fine of 3 million Dalasis (about US$100,000) to any individual convicted of using the Internet to spread false news or make
derogatory statements, incite dissatisfaction, or instigate violence against the government or public officials, news reports said. The penalties apply to individuals living in the country or abroad, the reports said .
Information Minister Nana Grey Johnson said the amendment had been passed to prevent Gambians from engaging in unpatriotic behavior against the government and public officials, according to news reports .
Gabon bans 3 publications over criticism of officials
20th August 2013
Gabon's state-run media regulatory agency, the National Communications Council, suspended three newspapers on May 29, 2013, according to news reports .
The Council suspended private weekly Ezombolo for six months because of an April 22 column that criticized President Ali Bongo's record in office, according to news reports.
The Council also suspended for six months the satirical supplement of La Griffe newspaper, Le Gri-Gri de la Griffe , on broad accusations of indulging in indecency and vulgarity in most of its publications, according to news
reports. La Griffe Managing Editor Olivier Konate' told CPJ that prior to the suspension, the Council had warned the newspaper to tone down its content after receiving a complaint over a caricature of a former official.
The Council suspended La Calotte for two months after summoning Editor Habib Antoine Bibalou over articles critical of Investment Minister Magloire Ngambia and Alice Bikissa Nembe', deputy to the minister for health, local news website
Infosgabon reported . The Council accused Bibalou of failing to report to several summons, according to news reports.
A ruling by a court in the central Russian town of Ulyanovsk ordering a state-run Internet provider to block access to 15 websites, including those of two prominent national newspapers, has sparked fears of a broader campaign of Internet
censorship in the country.
Two of the blocked websites, Gazeta.ru and Komsomolskaya Pravda, are among the top 10 news websites in Russia.
Local prosecutors said in a statement that the ruling was based on the presence on the websites of articles explaining the intricacies of giving a bribe in Russia and how to escape prosecution afterward.
Prosecutors emphasized that the court ruling had not ordered whole websites to be blocked but only specific pages containing the illicit information. Internet provider Rostelecom made the decision to block the sites themselves, going beyond the
court's instructions, they said.
Vietnam has announced a new law that will ban the discussion of news on blogs and social media. The law will take effect in September.
Known as Decree 72 , the law restricts the use of blogs and social networks to providing or exchanging personal information and bans using them to share information from news sources.
Reporters Without Borders said:
The announced decree is nothing less than the harshest offensive against freedom of information since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree imposing tough sanctions on the media in 2011. If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be
permanently deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums.
The decree is both nonsensical and extremely dangerous. Its implementation will require massive and constant government surveillance of the entire Internet, an almost impossible challenge (without US help). But, at the same time, it will
reinforce the legislative arsenal available to the authorities.
They will no longer have to charge independent news providers with 'anti-government propaganda' or 'trying to overthrow the government.' Instead, they will just have to set a few examples under the new law in order to get the others to censor
If Decree 72 is implemented, we urge the entire international community to condemn Vietnam severely and to consider imposing economic sanctions, especially on the tourism sector, to which the government pays a great deal of attention. Sanctions
on tourism are the most likely way to get a reaction from the authorities.
Until now, blogs and social networks have been important sources of news and information for Vietnamese Internet users, and an effective way of bypassing censorship. But Prime Minister Dung announced that they could henceforth be used only to
provide or exchange personal information.
Overruling its own Press Council, parliamentarians in Burma have passed a restrictive new press law that will restrict freedom of the press. It keeps in place many of the most draconian elements of the existing legal framework.
The Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law renews the government's power to license newspapers, news websites and foreign news agencies and has strict rules on obscenity and the incitement of public disorder. While abolishing some of the prison
sentences under the old Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law (1962), the law keeps criminal sanctions as well as excessively high fines for media organisations breaching the law.
The Ministry of Information's draft law has been viewed by members of Burma's fledgling press council as an attempt to undercut their attempts to formulate a new press law. Burma's Press Council was founded by the government in October 2012 with
the intention that journalists, their trade unions, media owners and civil society stakeholders should develop a new press law. After a disappointing first attempt at reform , the Press Council is currently working on a second draft of its law.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Information drafted its own press law, aimed at undercutting the more open and inclusive process undertaken by the Press Council.
Burma's upper house will now consider whether to pass the Ministry of Information's restrictive law, or consider the Press Council's proposals when they are finalised.
The Blue Express Daily (Lan Se Kuai Bao) in Yantai city, Shandong province has been banned from publishing in the next three months because it was running supposedly vulgar content, according to its editors.
The daily, which started publishing on July 17 last year, employs more than 300 people and has a circulation of 60,000, said Editor-in-Chief Han Hao. Han said he would be negotiating with provincial publishing authorities to bring the paper back,
but he believed officials would have final say on the fate of the publication.
Han told the South China Morning Post that he believed a local competitor had gone to authorities and attacked the paper for running inappropriate pictures of pretty women, which Han said were celebrity photos that appeared in the entertainment
The paper published a front page letter for its final issue. Although the letter doesn't explain why the paper is being shut down, Qu Quancheng, a deputy editor at the daily, cited vulgar content as a major reason that has lead to the
censorship. Vulgar content , a made-up accusation, has taken down a newspaper, he wrote on Weibo. A new page in China's journalism and history has been turned.
Authorities in Egypt's new military-run government raided Al-Jazeera's Egyptian station, disrupting its service, and shut down at least three stations supportive of Mohamed Morsi in a series of moves that seemed designed to cut off coverage of
pro-Morsi events, according to news accounts.
Al-Jazeera reported that security forces raided the Cairo offices of its Egyptian station, Al-Jazeera Mubashir, interrupting service, and detaining several people. The raid came during a live broadcast, the station said. Reuters also reported the
raid, citing an account from a station journalist who said coverage of a pro-Morsi rally had also been obstructed.
Misr25, the Muslim Brotherhood's television station, went off the air minutes after Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian defense minister, announced Morsi's ouster, state media reported . A live feed from Misr25 that was being carried by
Al-Jazeera English suddenly went black, as did the outlet's live YouTube feed. Misr25 had carried news and commentary that directly reflected the Muslim Brotherhood's political perspective.
The state-run Al-Ahram and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said two other pro-Morsi channels, the Salafi-affiliated Al-Hafiz and Al-Nas, also went off the air at that time. Al-Ahram said police entered the Media Production City
offices of all three stations.
A seventeen-year-old student has been sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly insulting Bahrain's king on Twitter. Ali Faisal Alshofa was first arrested in March this year. The teenager has been accused of posting the tweet in question
using the @alkawarahnews account, but he has denied any ties to the account.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) has condemned the teenager's arrest, as well as the ongoing crackdown on online users, and use of the judicial system to limit their free speech.
The Jordanian government has said that it had now blocked 254 unlicensed news websites.
Fayez Shawabkeh, head of the Press and Publication Department said:
16 local news websites were blocked in the past two days after carefully examining their situation. This brings the total number of sites the PPD blocked recently to 254, while 111 sites have obtained licenses.
On June 3, authorities said they would block nearly 300 out of 400 local news websites for failing to obtain the necessary licensing, under last year's repressive legislation. The law not only requires licensing but requires that editors
of news websites must be members of the Jordan Press Association, giving the government the right to censor content and hold journalists liable for comments posted on webpages.
One of the sites blocked in the past two days is 7iber, Arabic for ink. Its editor, Lina Ejeilat, told AFP 7iber was an interactive website that published reports and features from contributors, and said it should not be covered by the
legislation. We are a blog and definitely not a news website, she said. Shawabkeh disagreed, saying that 7iber is registered at the trade and industry ministry as a news website and posts news and political analyses about Jordan, which
means that the law applies to it.
The Algerian government has blocked the publication of two newspapers.
Hicham Aboud, editor of the My Journal and Djaridati newspapers, said that happened after he rejected an order from the Communication Ministry on Saturday night to remove an article from the papers that claimed hospitalized
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had slipped into a coma.
Aboud said the articles were quoting credible medical sources.
Officials have repeatedly said that the president is recovering well and will soon return to Algeria.
A new press law that would severely limit the activities of journalists in Burundi poses a grave threat to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.
The draft law, which includes new press-related crimes and exorbitant fines for journalists who violate them, looks set to be signed off by Burundi's President after it was adopted by the country's Senate earlier this month.
The proposal restricts the right to report on anything relating to state and public security, as well as information that threatens the economy or insults the President .
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Africa Director said:
Freedom of expression in Burundi is gravely under threat from this repressive law, which has great potential to be abused and places journalists at the mercy of the authorities. President Pierre Nkurunziza must reject the draft, and ensure that
journalists are able to carry out their legitimate work freely and without the threat of legal action.
The draft press law, in its latest form, could make journalists criminally liable for carrying out their work, and creates numerous new requirements for them to follow. Failure to do so could lead to fines as high as 6,000,000 Burundian francs
(about US $3,760), which most media outlets would be unable to afford.
A prominent Egyptian blogger has handed himself in to authorities, a day after the country's prosecutor general ordered his arrest along with four others for allegedly instigating violence with comments posted on social media.
The charges stem from clashes between supporters and opponents of the country's Islamist president last week that left 200 injured.
Activists say the accusations against the blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah may herald a wave of arrests of opposition leaders. They closely follow an angry televised warning by the president, Mohamed Morsi, that he would soon take exceptional measures
in the face of violence.
Abdel-Fattah, wearing a prison jumpsuit to show his readiness to face jail, arrived at the Cairo office of the prosecutor general, Talaat Abdullah, surrounded by dozens of protesters chanting slogans denouncing Morsi's and his group, the Muslim
Tunisian blogger Olfa Riahi has been charged with criminal defamation for posting an item in which the country's former foreign minister was alleged to have misused public funds. The minister, Rafik Abdessalem, stepped down soon afterwards.
The charge against Riahi came two weeks after university professor Raja Ben Slama was summoned to appear before an investigative judge to face the charge of defaming a public official. If convicted, Riahi and Ben Slama could face prison
Human Rights Watch (HRW), in reporting the two cases, says they underscore the need to end the criminalisation of defamation in Tunisia. Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East and north Africa director said:
Criminal defamation laws have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and work against the public interest by deterring people from speaking out about corruption or other misconduct by public officials.
The percentage of the world's population living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to a Freedom House report. An overall downturn in global media freedom in 2012 was punctuated by
dramatic decline in Mali, deterioration in Greece, and a further tightening of controls in Latin America. Moreover, conditions remained uneven in the Middle East and North Africa, with Tunisia and Libya largely retaining gains from 2011 even as
Egypt experienced significant backsliding.
The report, Freedom of the Press 2013 , found that despite positive developments in Burma, the Caucasus, parts of West Africa, and elsewhere, the dominant trend was one of setbacks in a range of political settings. Reasons for decline
included the increasingly sophisticated repression of independent journalism and new media by authoritarian regimes; the ripple effects of the European economic crisis and longer-term challenges to the financial sustainability of print media; and
ongoing threats from nonstate actors such as radical Islamists and organized crime groups.
David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House, said:
Two years after the uprisings in the Middle East, we continue to see heightened efforts by authoritarian governments around the world to put a stranglehold on open political dialogue, both online and offline. The overall decline is also a
disturbing indicator of the state of democracy globally and underlines the critical need for vigilance in promoting and protecting independent journalism.
Worrying deterioration was noted in Ecuador, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, and Thailand--which were all downgraded to the Not Free category--as well as in Cambodia, Kazakhstan, and the Maldives. Meanwhile, Mali suffered the index's largest
single-year decline in a decade due to a coup and the takeover of the northern half of the country by Islamist militants, and media in Greece came under a range of pressures as a result of the European economic crisis. The score declines in those
two countries triggered a status change to Partly Free, as did a smaller negative shift in Israel.
Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2012, a total of 63 (32%) were rated Free, 70 (36%) were rated Partly Free, and 64 (32%) were rated Not Free. The analysis found that less than 14 percent of the world's inhabitants lived in
countries with a Free press, while 43% had a Partly Free press and 43% lived in Not Free environments.
The world's eight worst-rated countries are Belarus, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In these states, independent media are either nonexistent or barely able to operate, the press acts as a
mouthpiece for the regime, citizens' access to unbiased information is severely limited, and dissent is crushed through imprisonment, torture, and other forms of repression.
Key Regional Findings:
The Americas: The region experienced a decline in press freedom in 2012, with Ecuador and Paraguay falling into the Not Free category and erosion also noted in Argentina and Brazil. The media environment remained extremely restrictive in
Cuba and Venezuela, and Mexico continued to be one of world's most dangerous places for journalists, with high levels of violence and impunity for crimes against media workers, though positive legislation to address this issue was passed in 2012.
The United States is still among the stronger performers in the region, but the limited willingness of high-level government officials to provide access and information to members of the press was noted as a concern.
Asia-Pacific: This region is home to one of the world's worst-rated countries, North Korea, and the world's largest Not Free setting, China. However, the regional average score improved in 2012. Burma earned the year's largest numerical
improvement worldwide due to broad openings in the media environment, and Afghanistan also registered gains. Less positively, Thailand moved back into the Not Free category, and deterioration was noted in Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Maldives, Nepal,
and Sri Lanka.
Central and Eastern Europe/Eurasia: A modest overall reduction in press freedom occurred in this region during 2012, with deterioration in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan offset by improvements in Armenia and Georgia. Restrictive conditions
persist in Russia, where the relatively unfettered new media, which have somewhat mitigated the government's near-complete control over major broadcast outlets, faced the threat of further curbs during the year. Hungary's score remained steady
amid ongoing concerns regarding extensive legislative and regulatory changes that have tightened government control of the media.
Middle East and North Africa: This region's level of media freedom remained the worst in the world in 2012, and stasis or backsliding was noted in the vast majority of countries, with the exception of Yemen. While two of the Arab Spring
countries, Libya and Tunisia, largely retained their significant gains from the previous year, Egypt moved back into the Not Free category. On the Arabian Peninsula, deterioration was noted in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Israel, an outlier in the region due to its traditionally free and diverse press, nevertheless experienced several challenges during 2012, resulting in a status downgrade to Partly Free.
Sub-Saharan Africa: The region suffered a modest decline in press freedom in 2012, largely as a result of the losses in Mali, now rated Partly Free, and Guinea-Bissau, which slid into the Not Free category. However, trends elsewhere on the
continent were positive, with significant improvements for Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi and smaller positive moves for Liberia, Mauritania, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. South Africa's score deteriorated slightly due to de facto restrictions on media
coverage of wildcat mining strikes in August and September, and the advancement of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill remained an issue of concern.
Western Europe: The region has consistently boasted the highest level of press freedom worldwide, but its average score underwent an unprecedented decline in 2012. Conditions for the press in Greece deteriorated significantly, moving the
country into the Partly Free category, while lesser slippage was noted in Spain, also as a result of the European economic crisis. Turkey, a regional outlier, continued to elicit concern due to its high number of imprisoned journalists.
New Zealand Law Commission has published a report about news censorship titled: The New Media Meets New Media: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age.
The most important recommendation in the report is for the existing news media regulatory bodies to be replaced with an umbrella body to be known as the News Media Standards Authority , described in a media briefing as a one-stop-shop for
adjudicating complaints across all news media, irrespective of the format or delivery channel.
The New Zealand Press Council, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Online Media Standards Authority would be replaced with a single independent standards body with jurisdiction over all news media broadcasters, newspapers, and online
It would be a non-state body, with membership voluntary and available to all including bloggers, but privileges accorded to media, including many by law, would only be available to those who signed up.
This body would not be established by statute but it would be indirectly recognised in statutory provisions that create the various news media privileges. It should have a separate legal existence independent of the industry. It should preferably
be an incorporated society.
Togolese police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse journalists protesting new censorship authority granted to the government media regulator, according to news reports and local journalists.
CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita said:.
We condemn the reckless and heavy-handed actions of Togolese police against journalists peacefully marching in defense of press freedom. Adopting broad new censorship powers and then violently dispersing those who protest them are not the
actions one expects in a free society.
Under the new amendments, HAAC can now revoke the operating licenses of Togolese media outlets without judicial process, news reports said. HAAC is composed of nine members, four of whom are directly nominated by Togo's president and the other
five of whom are nominated by the Togolese parliament which is controlled by the president's supporters, local journalists told CPJ.
The new amendments sparked outrage from journalists and human rights groups who began protesting on March 12 to condemn the law as illegal and in contravention of Togo's constitution. The constitution states that only a court of law can ban a
media organization after a petition has been brought before it by the HAAC.
Update: But unlike Britain, Togo has a constitutional court that throws out repressive laws
The Committee to Protect Journalists has welcomed a ruling by Togo's Constitutional Court to reject repressive amendments to a media law that granted the state-run media regulator sweeping powers of censorship.
A panel of judges declared that six articles of Togo's 2009 press law, which were amended on February 19 by the ruling party-controlled National Assembly, were inconsistent with the constitution, according to news reports. The decision
effectively nullifies the new measures.
The amendments had granted the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), Togo's state-run media regulatory body, the power to, among other actions, summarily shut down news outlets and seize their equipment without a court order.
But as Internet access has exploded in Vietnam, so has a government crackdown on Internet users, activists say. A new report from the International Federation for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights tallied more than 30 people
imprisoned or awaiting trial for peacefully using the Internet, many jailed for years for blogging about corruption and other touchy topics. A dozen more bloggers are under house arrest.
Newspapers could have critical protections from privacy laws ripped away by a Government-appointed official under new media laws mooted by the Federal Government. The proposed changes met with widespread criticism.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy unveiled his long-awaited package of media reforms, demanding the creation of a public interest test for major media mergers and the appointment of a bureaucrat to certify independent press regulatory
bodies. Conroy gave little information on how the public interest test would work and said the measures must pass Parliament inside two weeks or be junked.
Shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull vowed that the Opposition would oppose the public interest test and the creation of the regulator:
Any attempt to regulate or further circumscribe the media has got to be viewed with the greatest of suspicion. Particularly from a Government that seems determined to cowl the media, to bully the media into not criticising it.
Under Senator Conroy's plan, an office called the Public Interest Media Advocate would be created that would apply the public interest test to mergers and give the tick to independent regulators such as the Australian Press Council or the
Independent Media Council.
The Media Advocate would have the power to revoke certification for either body should it judge it was not living up to its promised standards. Without certification, newspapers would lose protection from privacy laws and their ability to publish
controversial and legally risky stories would be compromised.
Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns a decision by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA), which regulates all the media, to withdraw the publication licence of the Addis Times, an opposition bimonthly magazine created after the
authorities closed the outspoken weekly Fitih last August.
The way the authorities are persecuting the Addis Times and its employees is indicative of the strength of the Ethiopian government's determination to restrict media freedom and silence its critics, Reporters Without Borders said.
The grounds given by the EBA are not of the kind that justify such a severe measure as closure under Ethiopian law. This sanction must be lifted at once. We call on the authorities to put a stop to this harassment of the Addis Times and its
In a 10 January letter, the EBA accused the Addis Times of failing to report a change of owner and change of address, failing to send the two obligatory copies of each issue to the National Archives, and a lack of transparency in its funding. No
evidence was provided to support these claims or the punishment imposed.
Reporters Without Borders deplores the Eritrean government's censorship of the Qatari TV news network Al Jazeera since 1 February:
In a country with no privately-owned media and where national news broadcast in the local language is strictly controlled by the government, the foreign media are only 'tolerated' and it is clear that the line that cannot be crossed is coverage
of Eritrean news.
According to the Qatar-based newspaper Al-Sharq, the Eritrean authorities were annoyed with Al Jazeera for carrying reports about demonstrations by Eritrean exiles outside Eritrean diplomatic missions in Cairo, London, Frankfurt, Rome, Stockholm
and other capitals in opposition to the government and in support of the soldiers who stormed the information ministry in Asmara during a brief mutiny on 21 January.
The information ministry issued a decree on 1 February forbidding anyone in Eritrea to provide access to Al Jazeera. Public places such as restaurants, cafe's and hotels were specifically targeted. To ensure compliance, Al Jazeera's
English-language channels were jammed.
In a widening crackdown on online expression, Vietnamese security officials have arrested critical independent blogger Le Anh Hung and are holding him against his will in a psychiatric institution, news reports said. The Committee to Protect
Journalists condemns the arrest and calls on authorities to immediately release Hung and all other journalists detained on spurious charges in Vietnam.
Six security agents arrested Hung on January 24 in the northern city of Hung Yen, saying they needed to question him in connection to matters related to his temporary residence papers, according to a Radio Free Asia report. The police took
Hung to Social Support Center No. 2, a mental health institution in Hanoi, the report said. The institution's director later told Hung's colleagues that he had been admitted at the request of his mother and was not allowed to see visitors, the
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of three international rights groups, said in a public statement that Hung's mother had made no such request. The statement also said that before his arrest, Hung had been
subjected to repeated interrogations, threats, and harassment by police. The RFA report said Hung has faced prior harassment for his online writings, which include critical blog entries on high-level corruption and abuse of power inside the
ruling Communist Party.
Hung's arrest and detention underscore how sensitive officials have become to online criticism, said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative: Instead of crushing online dissent, Vietnam's government would be wise to
listen to the growing dissatisfaction with its rule that is being expressed on independent blogs.
Draft legislation designed to control the media in Burma threatens to reverse fragile press freedom gains recently achieved under President Thein Sein's democratic reform program, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said.
The draft Press Law Bill (2013) bans reporting on several vague topics, including any news or commentary critical of the military-drafted 2008 constitution, and allows for six-month prison sentences for failing to register news publications with
the government, according to a copy of the legislation published on Wednesday in the daily government-owned newspaper New Light of Myanmar. The law's proposed guidelines prohibit the publication of any news that could disturb the rule of law,
incite unrest, or violate the constitution and other existing laws.
The draft law also calls for the appointment of a new registration official, who will be charged with issuing publishing licenses and monitoring the media for violations of new censorship guidelines.
If passed in its current form, the draft law will essentially replace Burma's old censorship regime with a similarly repressive new one, said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative: Banning news topics and legalizing
the jailing of journalists is utterly inconsistent with the press freedom guarantees that authorities vowed the new law would promote. We urge lawmakers to amend this draft in a way that protects, and not restricts, press freedom.
The draft bill will soon be deliberated by the country's military-influenced parliament. It was drawn up by the Ministry of Information without input from independent press groups, according to news reports.
Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the seizure of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sudani by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), the latest act of media censorship in Sudan.
Fourteen thousand copies of the pro-government daily were seized two days ago, without any reason being given. The newspaper, once independent and critical of the government, was bought by a member of the ruling National Congress Party and ever
since has reflected the political views of its owner.
The intelligence and security services offered no explanation for the seizure of Al-Sudani, but political developments appeared to be at the root of their action. Sudan's main opposition parties met in the Ugandan capital Kampala on 5 January to
discuss ways of strengthening their common struggle against the Khartoum government.
The government subsequently took action against its opponents, with the intelligence and security services banning the media from reporting anything about the agreement signed at the Kampala meeting.
A Bangladesh blogger has been murdered after he played a large role in organizing big anti-Islamist protests in Dhaka.
Protests championed by the country's bloggers have seen thousands of people take to the streets demanding the execution of leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party who are under trial for war crimes.
Police found the body of Ahmed Rajib, better known by his online identity Thaba Baba, near his home in Dhaka, with his head hacked apart with a machete. Police official Sheikh Motiur Rahman told AFP:
We recovered the machete. It is clear the attacker wanted to murder him. They did not touch his laptop or other valuable objects,
Rajib's brother told AFP his sibling had been threatened frequently by Islamists angry at his role in the protests and his writings against the religion.
The killing was the second fatal attack in Dhaka against a blogger critical of Islamist groups in less than a month, after the stabbing death of a self-styled online militant atheist by three unidentified men near his office.
At least four people have died in Bangladesh in clashes between police and extremist mulsim protesters who took to the streets accusing bloggers of blasphemy. Dozens more were reported injured. Some were calling for the death of the
bloggers, whom they accuse of insulting Islam.
In the capital, Dhaka, thousands of protesters from an alliance of Islamic parties went on a protest rally soon after Friday prayers in the country's national mosque. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters who threw
stones and vandalised buildings, the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan reports from Dhaka.
Similar violent clashes were reported across the country. In some places, there were clashes between supporters of the ruling Awami League and Islamist activists, our correspondent reports.
Islamist parties have called for a nationwide general strike on Sunday in protest at the killing of their supporters in recent clashes.
Bangladesh police have arrested five students of from NorthSouthUniversity on charges of murdering an anti-Islamist blogger.
The students allegedly confessed to hacking to death Ahmed Rajib Haider on February 15 after he helped organise protests against leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party on trial for war crimes, police said.
They targeted him because of his supposedly blasphemous writings against Islam and Mohammed, Dhaka police deputy commissioner Masudur Rahman told AFP.
Saturday's arrests came as Bangladesh police opened fire on islamic extremists protesting the conviction for war crimes of one of their leaders, killing three people outside the port city of Chittagong. The deaths brought the total number killed
since a war crimes tribunal delivered its first verdict on January 21 to at least 56, according to police figures.
An appellate court in Benin should overturn the conviction and toss out a prison sentence handed to the director of a private television station last week in connection with a broadcast of a press conference in September in which a former
presidential adviser criticized President Boni Yayi, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
On January 16, a judge in Cotonou, the commercial capital, sentenced Berthe Cakpossa, director of Canal 3 TV, to three months in prison, a fine of 500,000 francs CFA (US$1,000), and symbolic damages of 1 franc CFA, according to news reports.
Cakpossa was charged with offending the head of state, news reports said. Her defense lawyer, Claret Dedie, told CPJ the journalist was appealing the decision. Dedie also said that prison terms of less than six months do not require
immediate incarceration in Benin, and that the appeal had suspended the execution of the sentence.
President Yayi retaliated against a journalist who conveyed a message he did not like and then pressured the courts to impose his will. He is sending a message that his government is off-limits to critical scrutiny, said CPJ Africa
Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita from New York. We call on the appeals court to overturn this verdict, which is a stain on Benin's image as a free, democratic nation.
From Aleppo to Zacatecas, Beijing to Brasilia, the past decade has seen a sharp rise in the number of journalist imprisonments, assassinations, and disappearances worldwide. Caught between warlords and religious extremists, corrupt police and
drug cartels, and hemmed in by increasingly oppressive censorship laws, journalists have never been at such peril, nor asked to pay such a high price for the ethical practice of their profession.
Begun as a simple typewritten list in 1986, Attacks on the Press has grown to become the definitive annual assessment of press freedoms globally. Compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, it provides up-to-the-minute analyses of media
conditions, press freedom violations, and emerging threats to journalists in every corner of the world.
In this 2013 edition, you will find front-line reports and analytical essays by CPJ experts covering an array of topics of critical importance to journalists, including:Journalist casualties at the front lines of conflicts in Syria, Nigeria,
Somalia,Afghanistan, and other global hot spotsThe curtailment of Internet freedoms across Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on thedraconian measures now in place in Vietnam, Malaysia, and ThailandThe status of investigations into the
disappearances of 35 journalists worldwide, and why more than half of those disappeared went missing in Mexico and RussiaThe rise in journalist imprisonments globally, the spate of new anti-terrorism laws that made it possible, and the example
set by the U.S. government in the wake of 9/11The state of journalistic freedoms in Iran since the Green Movement and the practice of summary imprisonment of Iranian journalists How the rise of mobile Internet technology and social media has
engendered new dangers for journalists from both insurgent groups and the governments they are fighting
A self-styled militant atheist who is famed for his anti-religious blogs was fighting for life on after he was stabbed in the capital of Bangladesh.
Asif Mohiuddin, 29, was attacked on Monday night by three unidentified men near his office in Dhaka's upscale Uttara district.
The nature of the cuts proved that the attackers wanted to murder him, hospital surgeon Haridas Saha said, adding that friends of Mohiuddin who were with him at the time of the attack blamed Islamic fundamentalists .
Security forces in Iran have raided at least four newspapers and arrested several journalists in what appears to be concerted action aimed at intimidating the media in advance of the presidential elections in June.
Sources in Tehran said reformist newspapers Etemaad, Shargh, Bahar and Arman were targeted by a group of plain-clothes police who ransacked offices, filmed staff, confiscated documents and held several journalists.
The semi-official Mehr news agency confirmed that a number of journalists have been arrested and said that officials were holding arrest warrants issued by judicial authorities.
Reasons behind the mass arrests on Sunday are still not clear but Mehr said the journalists were accused of co-operating with anti-revolutionary Persian-speaking media organisations outside the country. Iran has previously arrested people
who it claims had links with foreign-based Persian-speaking media, especially the BBC's Persian service, which is loathed by the Islamic republic but remains popular in the country.
Myanmar's notorious press censorship board was officially dissolved on Thursday in another nod towards press freedom since the government began to make democratic reforms two years ago.
The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) had not been in operation since August last year, when Myanmar announced it would lift its policy of prior censorship of all publications, which had been in place in the country since 1964. The
state-run New Light of Myanmar reported:
The division under the Printing and Publishing Enterprise has stopped functioning since 20 August, 2012, to pave ways for freedom of press. Copyrights and Registration Division will be formed under Information and Public Relations Departmentr.
A high level EU panel, that includes Latvia's former president and a former German justice minister, was ordered by Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president, last year to report on media freedom and pluralism . It has
concluded that it is time to introduce new rules to censor the press. The report concluded:
All EU countries should have independent media councils,
Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.
The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values.
As well as setting up state regulators with draconian powers, the panel also recommended that the European Commission be placed in overall control in order to ensure that the new press censors do not breach EU laws.
Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the report for making:
An extraordinary, and deeply disturbing proposal.
Having EU officials overseeing our free press - and monitoring newspapers to ensure they comply with European values - would be quite simply intolerable.
This is the sort of mind-set that I would expect to find in Iran, not the West.
A Vietnamese court has been criticised by the US after it found 14 pro-democracy activists guilty of subversion and sentenced them to jail terms ranging from three to 13 years.
The long prison terms suggest the country's Communist government is intent on stepping up its crackdown on dissenters to its authoritarian, one-party rule -- particularly online.
The defendants are linked to Viet Tan, a Vietnamese dissident group based in the US. Vietnam has labelled it a terrorist group, but the US government says it has seen no evidence it advocates violence.
The US embassy said Wednesday's verdicts were:
part of a disturbing human rights trend in Vietnam.
We call on the government to release these individuals and all other prisoners of conscience immediately, it said in a statement.
A Kuwaiti court has sentenced an online journalist to prison for supposedly insulting the ruling family on social media, according to news reports. Ayyad al-Harbi was ordered to begin serving the two-year jail sentence immediately, news reports
Police arrested al-Harbi on November 13 in connection with a series of posts he made to his personal Twitter account, starting in October, in which he criticized the government and called on authorities to stop oppressing Kuwaiti citizens,
according to news reports.
Al-Harbi's lawyer, Mohammed al-Humidi, said the journalist would be appealing, according to news reports.
Al-Harbi wrote opinion pieces for Sabr, a Kuwait-based independent website that publishes news and commentary. He wrote extensively about local issues including corruption and freedom of speech in the run-up to the December parliament election.
He has also written articles that have called on the Shia minority to revolt against corruption and criticized the government in connection with their attitudes on freedom of speech and women's rights.
Al-Harbi wrote a post on Twitter on January 6, accusing the government of corruption. The same day, he posted a prediction on Twitter, in which he said he would be indicted in the coming days for insulting the Alsabah ruling family, the same fate
met by Kuwaiti opposition activist Rashed al-Anzi, who had been convicted on the same charge the day before.
CPJ is alarmed by the prison sentence handed to Kuwaiti journalist Ayyad al-Harbi, said Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. We urge the Kuwaiti appellate court to reverse this conviction and uphold the nation's
commitment to freedom of expression.
Venezuelan intelligence has raided the home of a Twitter user suspected of spreading destabilising rumours about the health of Hugo Chavez ahead of an inauguration that the ailing president looks increasingly unlikely to attend.
The alleged microblogger, Federico Medina Ravell is the cousin of a prominent opposition figure, prompting concerns that a long-simmering information war could be escalating as the government and its opponents try to fill the vacuum left
by a leader who has not been seen or heard in public since he flew to Cuba for emergency cancer surgery a month ago.
The team from Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) confiscated several computers from Medina's home in Valencia.
Medina is the cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a well-known opposition journalist and co-founder of Globovision, a major news broadcaster and staunch critic of the Chavez government.
Medina, who was not at home, is accused of instigating terrorism through social networking sites. He is said to be behind the @LucioQuincioC Twitter account, which has claimed that Chavez will not return from Havana.
Journalists at a leading Chinese newspaper have called for a chief newspaper censor to resign, in a rare protest against censorship.
Prominent former staff and interns at the Southern Weekly urged the official to quit after he changed an editorial into a Communist Party tribute. They accused him of being dictatorial in an era of growing openness .
The row at the Southern Weekly - known for hard-hitting investigations and testing the limits of censorship - erupted after a new year editorial calling for guaranteed constitutional rights was changed at the last minute to one extolling the
virtues of the Communist Party.
In two open letters, 35 prominent former staff and 50 interns at the paper have demanded the resignation of the provincial propaganda chief in Guangdong, Tuo Zhen.
BBCChinese.com editor Zhuang Chen says it is thought to be the first time there has been a direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials.
The row comes as the website of another liberal journal was closed after it ran an essay urging political reform. The influential online magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu (or China Through the Ages), had called on China's leaders to guarantee
constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of a southern newspaper on Monday in a rare display of public anger over China's draconian censorship regulations. Many held signs calling for greater press freedom and expressing
support for the newspaper's editorial employees, some of whom have gone on strike against the provincial propaganda authority's interference with a recent editorial.
Widely circulated pictures on microblogs show large groups of young people holding up handwritten anti-censorship messages and grappling with police.
This incident could mark the first time in more than two decades that the editorial staff of a major newspaper have openly staged a strike against government censorship, reported the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Reports from China suggest journalists at a newspaper embroiled in a censorship row are returning to work after an agreement was reached.
Staff at Southern Weekly had demanded that a top censor and propaganda chief step down after a New Year message was changed.
On Tuesday, editorial propaganda from the state-run Global Times blamed the incident on activists outside the media industry was republished on multiple news sites - the result, according to reports, of a government directive. But several
major news portals carried a disclaimer saying they did not endorse the piece and a number of newspapers did not run it, in an apparent show of solidarity.
Reports citing sources both from the paper's staff and people close them said a deal to end the dispute was agreed on Tuesday evening. Thursday's edition would be published as normal and most staff would not be punished, Reuters reported.
However, online reports citing microblogs suggest the row may have widened to include a well-known daily, Beijing News.
Unconfirmed reports said its chief editor, Dai Zigeng, had resigned over pressure to publish the Global Times editorial.
China has sentenced three human rights activists to harsh prison terms for participating in an anti-censorship protest in 2013. The attorney for the three, Zhang Lei, told VOA that he is shocked and angered by the verdict, which gave a
sentence of six years to activist Guo Feixiong.
Activists Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng were sentenced to three years and 2½ years, respectively, for participating in the same demonstration.
The three were charged with gathering crowds to disturb social order and Guo received the additional charge of picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Both charges are often used broadly against dissidents.
The protest they took part in was a weeklong peaceful demonstration in 2013 outside the headquarters of the Southern Weekly newspaper. The demonstrators called on Beijing to give up censorship practices that affected the paper.
Zhang said he will be filing appeals for all three of his clients.
The National Security of Sudan has confiscated the printed edition of Al Karar daily newspaper of Thursday 27 December. The agents entered the printing press without any warning and took the printed materials. The Khartoum government has closed
down several independent newspapers and often confiscates the printed edition as part of general censorship.
Al Karar newspaper started six months ago and is jointly owned by the editors. The Sudan Journalist Association, the unofficial representative of independent journalists in Sudan, has condemned the confiscation.
The confiscation is not based on any warrant, constitutional regulation or other law. This will damage the economic security of the newspaper. If the government wants to block information it should use the law , the spokesman told Radio
A judge surprised a courtroom full of people when he postponed the trial of a Yemeni blogger being tried as journalist for apostasy.
Ali Qasim Al-Saeedi, who was arrested in November under charges of denouncing Islam was supposed to receive a verdict on Tuesday. But, in front of a full house of journalists, human rights activists, relatives and neighbors, the judge overseeing
his case mysteriously postponed a declaration of the verdict until January 7, 2013.
Al-Saeddi's case has generated a lot of attention as it touches on issues of the freedom of expression and faith and who should be considered a journalist. The accused's family has professed many times that he is a blogger and not a journalist,
and thus they say he should not fall under the jurisdiction of the Printing and Press Court.
The one-time general manager of the Budget and Planning department in the Supreme Judicial Council, Al-Saeddi finds himself in trouble because of academic writings and interpretations of the Koran he posted on his personal facebook page.
A new law in Moldova introduces punitive measures against media censorship and deliberate obstruction of mass-media activity.
The bill also makes a specific reference to a ban of public media censorship, involving forced distortion of a media product, limitation to spreading information of public interest, and other illegal actions meant to restrict information
The draft is intended to complement the law on freedom of expression, which came into effect in 2010 and bans censorship but does not define any punitive measures.
According to the new regulations, which were given the green light last month and approved by the government, censorship fines up to 1,250 euros, and up to 600 euros for obstruction of media activity, will be imposed. At the same time, those who
hold public offices and break this law could lose the right to hold public positions for up to four years.
report released on Friday by Index on Censorship details the harsh response of the authoritarian government in Belarus after it realised its policy of promoting internet expansion had provided a platform for online dissent in Europe's last
dictatorship. Belarus: Pulling the Plug identifies the ways President Lukashenko is now scrambling to restrict online freedom of expression in a country that has one of the worst human rights record in the world.
Andrei Aliaksandrau, Index's Belarus programme manager, said:
Alexander Lukashenko has significantly expanded his government's control over the internet in the last two years. Few people in Belarus realise the level of state surveillance now being carried out by Lukashenko's security services. This poses a
huge threat to internet activists in Belarus. The threat of a three year prison sentence for libel against online journalist Andrzej Poczobut shows this threat is real.
The regime is using sophisticated digital methods to curtail free speech made possible by new technologies including:
Web filters: Index on Censorship tested the WiFi at locations across Belarus including the Institute of Journalism of the Belarus State University in Minsk which filtered five of the major independent websites
Surveillance techniques which allow the state to intercept all online traffic
The removal of secure access to particular websites including Facebook to potentially compromise users' logins during election periods
The creation of fake versions of independent websites (zapraudu.info, nn.by, charter97.org) to create 'clone sites' with out of date news -- and DNS re-routing.
The threat to online freedom also comes from long-established methods the regime uses to chill free speech including: the restrictive media law of 2008, criminal libel laws and using unrelated laws such as 'petty hooliganism' to silence opinion
The paper reports that the government of Belarus is one of the first to use distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) to collapse the servers of opposition websites such as charter97.org.
Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship said:
State surveillance is yet another way that Lukashenko is compromising freedom of expression in Belarus. Index calls on the government to end online surveillance, release political prisoners and support its citizens' rights to free expression.
The European Union must also act to stop the export of surveillance technology to places like Belarus.
The report recommends that the European Commission supports the parliamentary motion tabled by Marietje Schaake MEP calling for a bar on the export of surveillance equipment to authoritarian states.
Chechen authorities have shut down a local newspaper after its editor-in-chief asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question.
Belkis Dudayeva, who heads the Put Kadyrova (Kadyrov's Way) , got the floor for a couple of minutes during Putin's four-and-a-half-hour press conference in Moscow.
She managed to squeeze in two questions, one about the cause of unrest in the North Caucasus, which is plagued by Islamic extremists, and the other about cuts at the state-owned Kavkaz radio.
Although Putin offered plenty of headline-grabbing comments, his replies to Dudayeva were unremarkable, as he noted the decrease in terrorist attacks and praised local media for their contribution. He snapped at journalists snickering at the
seemingly sycophantic name of the newspaper, which he said had been named after Akhmad Kadyrov, the former Chechen rebel who became the republic's president under Putin, pacifying it with an iron fist until he was killed in a bomb attack in 2004.
Putin was, however, soon upstaged by Chechen authorities, who announced within hours that Put Kadyrova has been closed by its publishers, the Itum-Kalinsky district administration. The paper had apparently used Kadyrov's name without permission.
Also it was cited that Dudayeva also asked provocative questions unrelated to district affairs, her paper's area of focus.
Twitter posts about anti-government protests have landed a human rights activist in Bahrain behind bars.
Said Yousif al-Muhafda is accused of disseminating false information about clashes between security forces and protesters in the country's capital, the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported
Al-Muhafda, the head of documentation for the Bahrain Center of Human Rights, was arrested during a demonstration.
Just before his arrest, the center said a series of posts went out on his Twitter account, describing a shotgun injury, tear gas and security forces spraying pepper spray on female protesters faces as they mock them/laugh.
Al-Muhafda has been using the account for months to document what he says are human rights violations in Bahrain.
A government prosecutor pointed to one Twitter post, which showed a picture of an injured leg. The image, resulted in protests and acts of sabotage that disrupted security on that same day, Bahrain's government news agency claimed.
Human rights activists have criticized the arrest, saying it is part of a growing crackdown on social media posts.