Tag: RSF

People’s Tribunal to indict governments, seeking justice for murdered journalists

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Photo-nationofchange.org

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 15 October 2021: In an unprecedented effort to achieve justice for the killing of journalists, three global leading press freedom groups have established a People’s Tribunal to investigate their murders and hold governments accountable. The Tribunal, a form of grassroots justice, relies on investigations and high-quality legal analysis involving specific cases in three countries. An opening hearing will be held on 2 November 2021 in The Hague

Violence against journalists is on the rise worldwide. Since 1992, more than 1400 journalists have been killed, and in eight out of ten cases where a journalist is murdered, the killers go free. The persistently high level of impunity perpetuates a cycle of violence against journalists, posing a threat to freedom of expression.

In a major push towards justice, leading press freedom organizations Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), requested the Permanent People’s Tribunal to convene a People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists. People’s Tribunals are designed to hold states accountable for violations of international law by building public awareness and generating a legitimate evidence record and play an important role in empowering victims and recording their stories. The People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists will indict the governments of Sri Lanka, Mexico, and Syria for failing to deliver justice for the murders of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, and Nabil Al-Sharbaji.

Renowned human rights lawyer Almudena Bernabeu will lead the prosecution for the opening hearing. A keynote address will be delivered by Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws QC, a member of the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.

Key witnesses delivering testimonies include prominent Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, Hatice Cengiz, academic and fiancée of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in 2018, Matthew Caruana Galizia, journalist and son of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was murdered in 2017, and Pavla Holcová, investigative journalist and colleague of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak, murdered in 2018.

The opening hearing will take place from 09:00-18:00 Central European Time on Tuesday 2nd November 2021 in The Hague, and can be attended in person by emailing info@freepressunlimited.org or joined via live stream on: saferworldforthetruth.com/tribunal.

Leon Willems, Director, Policy & Programmes of Free Press Unlimited (FPU), says, “Too many brave journalists were murdered for doing their vital job: reporting the truth. The People’s Tribunal demands justice for these heinous crimes and creates leverage to mobilize states to address impunity for the murders of journalists. More can and should be done to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. That is the inspiration for ‘A Safer World of the Truth’.”

Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), says, “The role of the Tribunal is important to seek justice for these courageous journalists, but it also gives family members and colleagues an opportunity to speak up and share their own stories and the impact of these brutal murders. Those left behind have worked tirelessly to keep the stories of these journalists alive, often in the face of threats and harassment. Their voices have been crucial in ongoing efforts to fight back against impunity.”

Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), states: “The opening hearing on November 2nd marks the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. This initiative goes beyond naming and shaming authorities which allows the horrifying impunity level. It’s about setting a concrete and useful example of what should be done by the judiciary .”

“Freedom of expression is an essential human right. And yet, the frequency of grave violations committed against journalists coupled with prevailing high levels of impunity is alarming. It is time that states are held accountable,” says Almudena Bernabeu, Prosecutor of the People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists.

Source- https://ptmurderofjournalists.org/

MEDIA: Myanmar junta publishes list of 19 wanted journalists

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By rsf.org

MELBOURNE, 1 May 2021: The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called upon the international community to react to the Myanmar military’s latest attempts to impose complete control over news and information, which have taken a new turn in the past two weeks with the publication of lists of wanted journalists as well as more arbitrary arrests of journalists.
Amid continuing protests against the 1 February coup d’état, the military took their crackdown to a new level on 4 April when they began publishing lists of journalists wanted for providing information about the pro-democracy protests, along with well-known figures wanted for publicly voicing support for the protests.

The latest list of “Those spreading news to affect state stability” is broadcast every evening on TV news programs and is published in the print media. Those named are “charged under Section 505 A” of the penal code, which penalizes the dissemination of information contrary to the interests of the armed forces and carries a possible three-year jail sentence.

At least 19 journalists have been named. They include Mratt Kyaw Thu, a well-known freelancer who recently told RSF about the threat to journalists since the coup, Frontier Myanmar, and VOA columnist Sithu Aung Myint and DVB TV anchor Ye Wint Thu.

Two journalists were added to the list on 17 April: Soe Zaya Tun of Reuters and freelancer Lumin Thuang Tun. Democratic Voice of Burma’s Nay Zaw Naing and freelancer Htoo Kyaw Win had been added three days before that. Along with their names, the authorities provide Facebook account details, profile photos, and addresses.

As well as journalists, the list also includes well-known actors and singers, and social media personalities, who have had to go into hiding or flee the country to avoid arrest. One of the journalists wanted by the military, Myanmar Post editor Zin Thaw Naing, was not so lucky. He was arrested on 5 April.

Arbitrary arrests

“After targeting journalists covering protests, the military has gone a step further and are now brazenly arresting anyone from the media world and anyone daring to contradict the propaganda they are trying to impose on the public,” RSF spokesperson Pauline Adès-Mével said. “It is time the international community reacted. The military authorities must stop violating press freedom in an attempt to hide their worst abuses against civilians from the world.”

The latest journalist to be arrested is Japanese freelancer Yuki Kitazumi, who was arrested yesterday and was taken via a police station to Insein prison, which is notorious for being used to jail media figures.

Even former journalists are now being persecuted. Although they had stopped working after the coup, Thin Thin Aung, the co-founder of the Mizzima news agency, and one of her former employees, James Phu Thoure, were arrested on 8 April and have been held ever since although no charges have been brought against them.

Myo Myat Myat Pan, a former Myitkyina News Journal journalist who had not worked for this outlet since the start of March, was arrested at her home on the evening of 14 April by plainclothes police. According to Reporting Asean’s tally, she is one of the total of 35 journalists currently held in Myanmar, of a total of 65 journalists arrested since 1 February.

Anyone participating in the dissemination of information, not to the liking of the military authorities is exposed to the threat of arbitrary arrest or violence. On 2 April, 11 people were detained at a Yangon market for answering questions by a CNN TV crew which had exceptionally received permission from the military to come and cover the situation in Myanmar. Eight of the 11 were released after three days, but the other three are still being held.

Communications disconnected

Since Gen. Min Aung Hlaing took over, the military authorities have gradually brought all means of communication and information under their control. Privately-owned TV and radio news stations have been suspended. Only entertainment can be broadcast. And satellite dishes that can be used to receive foreign TV news channels have been banned in some regions since the start of March.

Internet access is now only possible via a fixed-line connection and is disconnected every day from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., posing major problems for transmitting and accessing information in the remoter parts of the country, especially for journalists working there.

Myanmar is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.

Source- rsf.org

Journalism, the vaccine against disinformation, blocked in more than 130 countries: RSF 2021 World Press Freedom Index

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, April 24, 2021: People globally are bearing the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic since last year and tragic deaths have shattered humankind. Life remains disrupted in many countries and despite many vaccines in the market, the unfolding agony of this unprecedented crisis does not seem to end. Unfortunately, along with this crisis, another crisis of disinformation, has gripped the world.

This year’s #RSFINDEX, which evaluates the press freedom situation in 180 countries and territories annually, shows that journalism, journalism, which is arguably the best vaccine against the virus of disinformation, is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others, which together represent 73% of the countries evaluated. These countries are classified as having “very bad,” “bad” or “problematic” environments for press freedom, and are identified accordingly in black, red, or orange on the World Press Freedom map.

The Index data, compiled by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reflects a dramatic deterioration in people’s access to information and an increase in obstacles to news coverage. The coronavirus pandemic has been used as grounds to block journalists’ access to information sources and reporting in the field. Will this access be restored when the pandemic is over? The data shows that journalists are finding it increasingly hard to investigate and report sensitive stories, especially in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors. In response to the virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and via social media, journalism provides the most effective means of ensuring that public debate is based on a diverse range of established facts.”

Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fifth year running even though its media have complained of a lack of access to state-held information about the pandemic. Finland maintained its position in second place while Sweden (up 1 at 3rd) recovered its third place ranking, which it had yielded to Denmark (down 1 at 4th) last year. The 2021 Index demonstrates the success of these Nordic nations’ approach towards upholding press freedom.

The World Press Freedom map has not had so few countries coloured white – indicating a country situation that is at least good if not optimal – since 2013, when the current evaluation method was adopted. This year, only 12 of the Index’s 180 countries (7%) can claim to offer a favourable environment for journalism, as opposed to 13 countries (8%) last year. The country to have been stripped of its “good” classification is Germany (down 2 at 13th). Dozens of its journalists were attacked by supporters of extremist and conspiracy theory believers during protests against pandemic restrictions.

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The press freedom situation in Germany is nonetheless still classified as “fairly good,” as is the case in the United States (down 1 at 44th), despite the fact that Donald Trump’s final year in the White House was marked by a record number of assaults against journalists (around 400) and arrests of members of the media (130), according to the US Press Freedom Tracker, of which RSF is a partner. As a result of falling four places, Brazil joined the countries coloured red, indicating that the press freedom situation there is classified as “bad”. The vilification and orchestrated public humiliation of journalists have become trademarks of President Bolsonaro, along with his family and closest allies. Brazil shares the “bad” classification with India (142nd), Mexico (143rd) and Russia (down 1 at 150th), which deployed its repressive apparatus to limit media coverage of protests in support of Kremlin opponent, Alexei Navalny.

China (177th), which continues to take Internet censorship, surveillance and propaganda to unprecedented levels, is still firmly anchored among the Index’s worst countries, which are indicated in black on the World Press Freedom map. Right below China is the same trio of totalitarian countries that have historically occupied the bottom three places. Two are Asian: Turkmenistan (up 1 at 178th) and North Korea (up 1 at 179th). The third is African: Eritrea (down 2 at 180th). Regardless of their continent, these countries maintain absolute control over all news and information, enabling the first two to claim they had no Covid-19 cases and the third to maintain complete silence about the fate of 11 journalists who were arrested 20 years ago, some of whom have allegedly been held in metal containers in the middle of a desert.

The country that fell the furthest in 2021 was Malaysia (down 18 at 119th), where the problems include a recent “anti-fake news” decree allowing the government to impose its own version of the truth. Big descents were also registered by Comoros (down 9 at 84th) and El Salvador (down 8 at 82nd), where journalists have struggled to obtain state-held information about the government’s handling of the pandemic. Most of the 2021 Index’s biggest gains are in Africa. Burundi (up 13 at 147th), Sierra Leone (up 10 at 75th), and Mali (up 9 at 99th) have all seen significant improvements, including the release of four journalists with the independent Burundian media Iwacu, the repeal of a law criminalising press offences in Sierra Leone and a fall in the number of abuses in Mali.

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Source- rsf.org

Ten multinationals colluding with Myanmar’s junta: RSF

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Live rounds have been fired at reporters. Media outlets have been raided. The Internet has been completely disconnected. The Myanmar junta’s systematic persecution of journalists and its determination to suppress all news sources to which its citizens have access show that diplomacy and international sanctions are not enough to rein in the constantly escalating repression.

So, RSF is calling on multinationals still operating in Myanmar to end all cooperation with the junta, both in their business activities and the financial support they provide. Letters to this effect have been sent to the CEOs of ten of them: the French hotel chain Accor, the French TV group Canal+, America’s Chevron, Sweden’s Ericsson, Korea’s Lotte Hotels and Resorts, Japan’s Okura Nikko Hotel Management, the South Korean steel and energy giant POSCO, the Norwegian state telecom company Telenor, the French oil firm Total and the Anglo-Dutch food processing conglomerate Unilever.

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The repression has taken a really shocking turn, with more than 500 people killed and nearly 60 journalists arrested. But most of the companies with a presence in Myanmar have taken no credible measure. Their fine words must now be transformed into action that leaves no doubt about their opposition to this illegitimate and bloody regime. RSF is urging these ten companies to take concrete steps to stop directly or indirectly funding Myanmar’s generals and, where relevant, to end their complicity in the widespread censorship that the junta is trying to impose.

Source- Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Newsletter, April 16, 2021.

RSF welcomes UK court order blocking US attempt to extradite Julian Assange; US to appeal

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 5 January 2021: The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has welcomed the 4 January 2021 decision of the UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser blocking the United States’ attempt to extradite Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange from Britain.

Julian Assange’s defense team has lodged a bail application which will be heard on 6 January 2021.

In a statement the RSF while welcoming the verdict, expressed its disappointment ” that the court failed to take a stand for press freedom and journalistic protections. We disagree with the judge’s assessment that the case was not politically motivated and was not centered on journalism and free speech. This decision leaves the door open for further similar prosecutions and will have a chilling effect on national security reporting around the world if the root issues are not addressed.”

” Although Judge Baraitser decided against extradition, the grounds for her decision were strictly based on Assange’s serious mental health issues and the conditions he would face in detention in the US. On the substantive points in the case – in which the US government has pursued Assange on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – the judge’s decision was heavily in favor of the prosecution’s arguments, and dismissive of the defense.

The US government has indicated that it intends to appeal the extradition decision. Assange remains detained on remand in high-security Belmarsh prison, pending the judge’s consideration of his bail application on 6 January. RSF calls again for his immediate release and will continue to monitor proceedings.

Despite extensive difficulties securing access – including the refusal by the judge to accredit NGO observers and threats of arrest by police on the scene – RSF monitored the 4 January hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey), and has been the only NGO to monitor the full extradition proceedings against Assange.”