28 September 2011
IFEX Communiqué Vol 20, No 38
Right to information (RTI) advocates around the world have much to celebrate on today's Right To Know Day (28 September) with the launch of numerous tools, initiatives and reports that will make it more difficult for governments and public institutions to avoid their duty to promote information sharing and openness.
The camera of Hassan al-Wadhaf captured some of the bloody protest that killed dozens of protesters in Yemen in mid-September. It also captured the attack that lead to his death. After taking sniper fire to the head while filming the protests, al-Wadhaf died in hospital on 24 September, report Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The killer has not been identified.
At a time when the murderous spree of drug cartels in Mexico seemed it couldn't get any more horrific, the decapitated body of María Elizabeth Macías, news editor of "Primera Hora" was found on 24 September, report the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Adding to the atmosphere of despair, another journalist is missing, according to IAPA and RSF.
Shortly after a provincial court in Guayas, Ecuador, upheld a bankrupting US$40 million fine and three-year jail sentences for three "El Universo" newspaper directors and one writer, President Rafael Correa insulted his critics during a public speech at Columbia University in New York, report the Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
After threatening to use the retrograde Official Secrets Act to force a "Guardian" journalist to reveal her sources in the phone hacking scandal, the Metropolitan Police is holding a closed-door meeting with members of parliament to explain the move, report Index on Censorship and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of independent news site "Prachatai", is calling for worldwide support as she faces jail time of up to 20 years. Premchaiporn is the latest victim of Thailand's antiquated lèse-majesté laws, which were set up to protect the monarchy from insult, and are being used in modern times to silence dissent.
The official launch of the International News Safety Institute (INSI) - North America office, which will provide safety training and additional support to North American journalists, will take place in New York on 14 October.
Journalists and media in Eastern Europe that support press freedom are invited to apply for the Gerd Bucerius Free Press award. The deadline for applications is 24 October 2011.