Press Freedom

Journalism’s darkest hour and a roadmap to its survival

Director Steven Spielberg's 2017 newsroom thriller The Post, set in the 1970s America when a group of journalists try to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets about the Vietnam War, beautifully captures the tension between the press and a corrupt administration. It's a standard theme for a movie on journalism—defenders of truth vs enemies of truth—but there's a twist: The Washington Post faces an existential threat if it publishes the Pentagon Papers. So it must choose between a heroic stand to assert its right to publish and an about-turn to avoid threats of retributions. Tom Hanks, who plays the hard-charging editor of the newspaper, chooses the former: “The only way to protect the right to publish is to publish.”

Impunity and Harsh Laws Trouble Journalists in South Asia as Protesters March on the U.N. For Release of Bangladeshi Journalist

It has been six and half years since the killing of Bangladeshi journalists Meherun Runi and Sagar Sarwar in Dhaka. Runi, a senior reporter from the private TV channel ATN Bangla, and her husband Sarwar, news editor from Maasranga TV, were hacked to death at their home on Feb. 11, 2012.

The Shrinking Space for Media Freedom in Uganda

Last month, a horrifying video circulated on social media in Uganda. It shows Reuters photographer, James Akena, surrounded by Uganda Peoples Defence Force soldiers who beat him as he raised his hands in the air in surrender. He was unarmed and held only his camera. 

Journalism for Democracy, Caught Between Bullets and Censorship in Latin America

The murder of journalists and changing forms of censorship show that freedom of expression and information are still under siege in Latin America, particularly in the countries with the greatest social upheaval and political polarisation.

Lee, Journalist Banned from UN for Misconduct, Plans to Fight Back

The United Nation’s Department of Public Information (DPI) last week withdrew UN press credentials from Matthew Lee, a longstanding journalist who reported for his blog, Inner City Press (ICP).

When Being ‘Offensive’ or ‘Morally Improper’ Online Carries an Indeterminate Jail Sentence in East Africa

JamiiForums was Tanzania’s largest whistleblowing online platform, with one million visitors each day. But now some 90 percent of staff has been retrenched and the owners are considering shutting down their offices since the June implementation of the country’s online content communication law.

Laws and Threats Undermine Freedom of Expression in Honduras

A series of laws that came into force in the last five years and the petition for amparo by 35 journalists and 22 social communicators against the government's "Secrecy Law" give an idea of the atmosphere in Honduras with regard to freedom of expression.

Trump’s Attacks on Media Violate Basic Norms of Press Freedom, Human Rights Experts say

U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the free press are strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts. The President has labelled the media as being the “enemy of the American people” “very dishonest” or “fake news,” and accused the press of “distorting democracy” or spreading “conspiracy theories and blind hatred”.

Silence from Judiciary Increases Self-Censorship, Pakistan’s Journalists say

When it comes to the military and the judiciary, Pakistan's journalists are "between a rock and a hard place," Zohra Yusuf, of the independent non-profit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told CPJ.

Social Media – the New Testing Ground for Sri Lanka’s Freedom

Journalists and media activists have cautioned against Sri Lanka’s newfound press freedom as the country heads to the polls in 2020. Separate incidents of hate-speech against a Muslim minority—and the subsequent shutdown of social media platforms—and the harassment of reporters critical of the country’s opposition have led some to believe that the changes in media independence could reverse.

The Voice of Argentina’s Slums, Under Threat

Between the dimly-lit, narrow alleyways of Villa 21, only 30 minutes by bus from the centre of the Argentine capital, more than 50,000 people live in poverty. It was there that La Garganta Poderosa (which means powerful throat), the magazine that gave a voice to the "villeros" or slum-dwellers and whose members today feel threatened, emerged in 2010.

From Fake News to a Fake Death

When news broke on May 29th that journalist Arkady Babchenko had been murdered in Ukraine, serious questions about the safety of journalists in the country were raised.

Lesotho Constitutional Court declares criminal defamation unconstitutional

The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed yesterday's ruling by Lesotho's Constitutional Court that criminal defamation is unconstitutional, calling it a significant step toward safeguarding press freedom in the country.

Media Watchdogs Fear a Chill in Slovakia

International media watchdogs, EU politicians, journalists and publishers have condemned Slovak police investigating the murder of a local journalist after one of his colleagues claimed she was interrogated for eight hours before being forced to hand over her telephone – potentially putting sources at risk.

Protests Fuel Harassment Faced by Media in Nicaragua

Assaults on journalists, persecution of press workers' unions, direct censorship and smear campaigns are a high cost that freedom of expression has paid in Nicaragua since demonstrations against the government of Daniel Ortega began in April.

Steady Old Hand of Repression Seeks to Strangle New Media in East Africa

In African countries where journalists are targeted with killings and beatings while traditional news outlets have been muzzled by governments and other actors unhappy with criticism, bloggers and social media users have become the new independent media by providing much-needed coverage, commentary and analysis.

A Free Press Is Indispensable for Good Governance and Transparent Societies Chair of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights

On the occasion of the 2018 World Press Freedom Day commemorated on 3 May 2018, the Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, highlighted the importance of promoting freedom of the press to facilitate “good governance and transparent societies.”

African Governments Mark World Press Freedom Day with Crackdown Against Online Journalism

When Uganda in April ordered Internet service providers to shut down all news sites that had not been authorized by the communications regulator (pdf), it was the latest attempt by President Yoweri Museveni’s government to constrict the space for independent media.

Free Media Under Threat Globally

Buoyed on by the likes of United States’ President Donald Trump, a growing number of political leaders are encouraging hostility towards news media and journalists across the globe are finding it harder than ever to do their jobs.This is among the main findings in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) annual World Press Freedom Index which examines 180 countries and their relationship with the media.

Press Freedom & Enforced Disappearances: Two Sides of the Same Coin in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan journalist Richard de Zoysa was abducted from his home in Colombo on the night of February 18th, 1990, his family knew there would be dark days ahead. The population was still reeling from one of the bloodiest episodes in the island nation’s history – a government counterinsurgency campaign to crush a Marxist rebellion in southern Sri Lanka, which left between 30,000 and 60,000 people dead at the hands of government death squads.

In Beacon of Press Freedom, Dark Spots Persist

Ghana is a living contradiction, at least in the arena of freedom of expression, free speech and press freedom.

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