2 July 2002
Volume 11 - 2002 Issue 26 (02 Jul. 2002)
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) held its annual general meeting last week where it presented its annual report on censorship and elected a new executive committee. The report highlighted four major trends during the past year: 1) Censorship is on the rise in South Africa; 2) it is increasing in both the private and public sectors; 3) The government is increasingly resorting to apartheid-era censorship laws and 4) it has been introducing new censorship provisions.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is seeking applications for the Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism, awarded to print or on-line journalists who demonstrate a striking insight and dedication to reporting on human rights and development. The prize is administered by IFJ and sponsored by the European Commission. This year it has been expanded so that a deserving journalist in each of the following five regions will be given an award - Europe; Asia and the Pacific; Africa; Latin America and the Caribbean; and North Africa and the Middle East.
The use of defamation laws to silence journalists critical of Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko has come under scrutiny following the recent sentencing of two reporters from the independent weekly newspaper "Pahonya." The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Press Institute (IPI) and ARTICLE 19 are drawing attention to the 24 June conviction of Mikola Markevich and Paval Mazheika for defaming the president. They were sentenced to up to 2 ½ years of hard labour.
The government of Tajikistan has dropped criminal charges against exiled journalist Dodojon Atovulloev, editor of the independent newspaper "Chiroghi Ruz" (Day Light), report Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Atovulloev, winner of CJFE's 2001 International Press Freedom Award, was charged in April 2001 for insulting Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov, supporting the violent overthrow of the state and inciting ethnic, racial and religious hatred.
The Nepalese government is under pressure this week from the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to respond to widespread media reports that Krishna Sen, editor of the daily "Janadisha," was tortured and killed in custody. Sen was arrested on 20 May and has been detained ever since. Authorities accused him of being a high-ranking leader of the outlawed Maoist rebel movement, CPJ says. "Janadisha" is considered supportive of the Maoists.
In Colombia - dubbed "the most dangerous country in the world" for journalists by the International Press Institute (IPI) - two radio station proprietors have been murdered in the space of a week.
Hong Kong (China)
Five years after the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China, there are worrying signs that the government of Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa is permitting an "erosion of freedom of expression and associated rights by failing to take seriously their protection," say the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and ARTICLE 19. The groups issued their joint annual report on free expression in Hong Kong yesterday, the tenth they have collaborated on since 1992.