Headlines

Odd Situation in the “Paradise” of Press Freedom

A strange situation has emerged in Finland where some people feel that the press freedom is currently jeopardised. The small Nordic country is a press freedom celebrity leading the index kept by Reporters Without Borders since 2009 and hosting the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day on May 3.The case is related to the so-called Panama Papers that were recently leaked by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The papers originate from the Panama based law company Mossack Fonseca and include information about over 210,000 companies that operate in fiscal paradises.The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) was involved in publishing the leak and fiscal authorities of Finland now insist that the company has to hand the material over to them. The dead line expired on Friday but YLE has refused.The company is appealing the tax authorities' decision and stating that it's basic freedom is to protect the news sources. Besides YLE emphasised that it does not possess the material but a few journalists just have access to it.What has most surprised both journalists and the public here is the fact that this happens in Finland while no other country whose media is involved in the Panama case has experienced same kind of threat from the authorities."We understand very well about why the tax office and politicians are interested in the documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca”, the responsible editors of YLE investigative group, Ville Vilén and Marit af Björkesten, said in their statement referring to the possible tax evasions and their social consequences.They admit having partly shared purposes with the authorities but refuse to violate old principles that have been followed for decades in the European countries that respect press freedom."Despite their wideness the Panama papers are not a reason to endanger the protection of the news source and the possibilities of Finnish journalists to practice influential investigative journalism on a longer run," they continue."Surprisingly we are not here to celebrate press freedom but instead to ponder an amazing situation”, the president on the Finnish Council of Mass Media, Elina Grundström, said Monday on YLE's morning television. The Council of Mass Media is an organ of the Finnish media's self-regulation meant to supervise the ethics of the press from all stakeholders' angle. Grundström gave her support to YLE's decision not to give up the Panama papers to the tax authorities. Susanna Reinboth, the law reporter of the biggest national daily, agreed while Pekka Mervola, editor-in-chief of the regional paper Keskisuomalainen, thinking that the material could be delivered with certain reservations that are meant to protect the sources. The problem may be at least partly solved on May 9th when the ICIJ has promised to publish part of the Panama material.

Democratic Corruption

`Chaste to her husband, frank to all beside / A teeming mistress, but a barren bride` - Alexander Pope From Brazil to Malaysia, democracy around the world is under threat. Not from the march of army columns, but from the greed and corruption of a rapaclous global political elite. While nation-destroying corruption of leaders such as Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko, Sani Abacha, Alberto Fujimori, or Robert Mugabe was the accepted `norm` till the 1990s for a select band of unfortunate Third World countries whose people had been made destitute by their leaders` insatiable greed, the latest wave of democracy was thought to have brought in a newer, and lesstainted, leadership.

Free Press a Casualty of Pakistan’s Terror War

Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is widely viewed as one of the world's most dangerous places to be a journalist, with at least 14 killed since 2005 and a dozen of those cases still unsolved, according to local and international groups.

Grilled for a Retweet: Press Freedom in Kenya

In early January, Judith Akolo, a journalist with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, found herself in unfamiliar territory when she was summoned and grilled by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for retweeting a Twitter message.

Black Colombian Activists Continue Our Struggle For Rights

While Colombia’s peace talks continue in Havana, Cuba, back home in the region of North Cauca, Black Colombians have found their cries for access to their ancestral lands met with tear-gas and rubber bullets.

Media Freedom in Africa Remains Under Attack

Imagine a world without the media, where we have no verified information about what’s going on around us. Where everything is hearsay and gossip, where there are no trusted sources of information. It would be hard to operate in a world like that: to make decisions about what to do about the things that affect our lives.

Compensation Hard to Ensure

The dead do not feel anything, but those who survive do. The horrendous experience of the insensitive test after rape. The courtroom insults during trial because a draconian law permits the accused to question the victim's character. The families suffer no less humiliation as they wait for justice. While nations around the world have overhauled relevant laws with provisions that shield the rape victims, ours still favour the offender instead. Isn't it time we were a little more sensitive towards the victims of a crime now regarded as a crime against society? In the wake of Tonu murder after suspected rape, The Daily Star tries to shed some light on all these aspects. Today, we run the third and final instalment of the three-part series.

Media Ethics

When young Bisma died in a traffic jam en route to Civil Hospital in Karachi last December, there was a media frenzy. To onlookers it looked like frenzy, devoid of principles – a burgeoning show of power by the media, the right to information overshadowing all other rights. Lately, media debate on similar issues often cross the same boundaries. The gap between what a decent society expects from their media, and what media is able to provide, appears to be widening under the myriad pressures of business and political interests.

West Papuans Turn to Africa for Support in Freedom Bid

For more than half a century, the indigenous people of West Papua, located on the western side of the island of New Guinea, who are related to the Melanesians of the southwest Pacific Islands, have waged a resistance to governance by Indonesia and a relentless campaign for self-determination.

“Together, Civil Society Has Power”

When Tamara Adrián, a Venezuelan transgender opposition legislator, spoke at a panel on inclusion during the last session of the International Civil Society Week held in Bogotá, 12 Latin American women stood up and stormed out of the room.

Opinion: Illicit Financial Flows

International capital flows are now more than 60 times the value of trade flows. The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) is now of the view that large international financial transactions do not facilitate trade, and that excessive financial ‘elasticity’ was the cause of recent financial crises.

World Farmers’ Organisation Meeting Eyes New Markets, Fresh Investment

‘No Farmer, No Food’ is an old slogan that the Zambia National Farmers’ Union still uses. Some people consider it a cliché, but it could be regaining its place in history as agriculture is increasingly seen as the answer to a wide range of the world’s critical needs such as nutrition, sustainable jobs and income for the rural poor.

Can the UN Security Council Stop Hospitals Being Targets in War?

Hospitals, health care workers and patients in war zones are supposed to be protected under international humanitarian law yet recent attacks from Syria to Afghanistan suggest that they have become targets.

A long, Insulting Walk to Justice for Rape Victims in Bangladesh

The dead do not feel anything, but those who survive do. The horrendous experience of the insensitive two-finger test after rape. The courtroom insults during trial because a draconian law permits the accused to question the victim's character. The families suffer no less humiliation as they wait for justice. While nations around the world have overhauled relevant laws with provisions that shield the rape victims, ours still favour the offender instead. Isn't it time we were a little more sensitive towards the victims of a crime now regarded as a crime against society? In the wake of Tonu murder after suspected rape, The Daily Star tries to shed some light on all these aspects. Today, the first two instalments of a three-part series.

El Nino-Induced Drought in Zimbabwe

Emaciated and with their ribs jutting out, Evans Sinyoro’s cattle lie on the ground overlooking a dry patch of land while the small earth dam nearby is also dry, thanks to the El Nino-induced drought wreaking havoc across Zimbabwe.

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