24 April 2001
Volume 10 - 2001 Issue 16 (24 Apr.)
For the twenty-fifth year, Project Censored, a US-based media watchdog, has released its list of the "top 25 censored media stories for 2000." The controversial list covers important stories that, according to Project Censored, go unreported or under-reported by the mainstream media in the United States. Alongside it, the organisation has issued its annual report on the "Junk Food News" served to the public in the place of more substantive reporting.
Moroccan authorities have taken their first steps to restrict Internet access by blocking the site of the weekly "Rissalat Al Foutouwa", voice of the student section of the Islamic association Al-Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Spirituality), according to Reporters sans frontières (RSF). Access within Morocco to the weekly's website (www.fotowa.com) has been blocked since early April. Authorities also seized an issue of the weekly on 6 April, even though its publication director has authorisation to publish. Since November 2000, printers and distributors have refused to print and distribute "Rissalat Al Foutouwa", reportedly due to pressure from the authorities. The newspaper's management was forced to find alternative means to print and distribute the newspaper, but decided to interrupt publication of "Rissalat Al Foutouwa" as of mid-April. Al-Adl Wal Ihsane's website (www.aljamaa.org) and the site of the Islamic association's leader (www.yassine.net) have also been blocked.
Nearly nine years after being arrested on charges of "terrorism," journalist Hermes Rivera Guerrero has been pardoned and released, report the Human Rights section for Latin America of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Institute for Press and Society (IPYS) and the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC). Rivera, who had always maintained his innocence, was pardoned on 11 April and released from Picsi prison five days later, reports WiPC. He had been in jail since 8 May 1992, serving a twenty year sentence, adds IFJ.
A new law, approved by Singapore's Parliament on 19 April, that curbs foreign broadcasters' coverage of local issues has alarmed the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and ARTICLE 19. The government will now have broad power to restrict or suspend foreign broadcasters, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Cable News Network (CNN), and the Hong Kong-based Chinese Television Network for "engaging in domestic politics," says CPJ. The organisation adds that foreign print media are already subject to similar legislation.
The Sri Lankan government is threatening tighter controls on foreign journalists after American journalist Marie Colvin was seriously wounded on 16 April, report the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and Reporters sans frontières (RSF). Colvin, a correspondent for the British "Sunday Times", was caught in a shootout between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government forces, says FMM. She received wounds to her head, eyes, chest, and arms, and is recovering in hospital in the capital, Colombo, where she is reportedly in satisfactory condition, says RSF. Colvin, one of the patrons of RSF's UK branch, was named Best Foreign Correspondent at the British Press Awards in March.
A recent wave of extremely violent attacks against Bangladeshi journalists continues, resulting in one journalist's death and the amputation of another's leg, according to Media Watch (MW) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF).
During the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City from 20-22 April, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF) urged hemispheric leaders to take action to combat threats to press freedom. While journalists were generally able to carry out their work without hindrance during the summit, FPJQ reports some troubling incidents, including at least two arrests.