2 May 2000
Volume 09 - 2000 Issue 18 (02 May)
Reporters sans frontières (RSF) will mark World Press Freedom Day with the launch of its Annual Report and the circulation of a photograph album by French photographer Robert Doisneau, with the support of his family and the Rapho agency. The album was available in France on 27 April, and English, Spanish and Italian editions will be sold in 36 countries. In addition, RSF will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in early May 2000 by showing 14 short films about press freedom made by TV news agencies on French channels.
NIGERIAN GROUPS COMMEND MEDIA, PROMOTE INFORMATION BILL
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges members of the media world to unite against ?the scourge of intimidation, violence and poverty that affects journalists and media staff in many parts of the world,? in its statement for World Press Freedom Day. Already this year, 23 journalists have been killed and a large number of journalists have survived violence. In particular, countries such as China must subscribe to internationally-recognised standards of free expression, opinion and social justice, says IFJ.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) will release its annual list of the "Ten Worst Enemies of the Press for 2000" on 3 May. CPJ's list can be immediately viewed upon its release on World Press Freedom Day on its website:
Censorship is often disguised in "code language that masks its real intent," concludes a report released by the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. In the report, entitled "New Code Words for Censorship: Modern Labels for Curbs on the Press", 18 prominent journalists describe various linguistic disguises used to limit citizens' access to news and information around the world. Journalists from Europe, Asia, and the Americas examine the hidden meaning behind notions such as "assigning responsibilities to the press; imposing codes of ethics for journalists; restricting news coverage in the name of protecting privacy; and calling for laws to protect journalists." The report also includes a checklist of 20 questions which provide guidelines for readers to determine whether or not the news media in their regions are free. Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting the WPFC, 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia, 20191, United States; Tel: +1 703 715 9811; Fax: +1 703 620 6790; E-mail:
The freedom of the press is a "fundamental condition for the transformation of society" that is necessary under all circumstances, said President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in a recent interview with the World Association of Newspapers (WAN). The text of the interview is included in a special 3 May package assembled by WAN which was made available to newspapers, journalists and other organisations to publish in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. Already distributed to 17,000 newspapers world-wide, the package contains a series of essays, interviews, public service advertisements and graphics ready for publication.
Groups across Canada are celebrating World Press Freedom Day, reports Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). In Toronto, a new chapter of CJFE, Journalists in Exile (JEX), is sponsoring a panel discussion on attacks against free expression. "We want to express solidarity with journalists in countries where freedom of speech is just a dream," says Gordana Knezevic. Knezevic, formerly a journalist in Bosnia, is the JEX coordinator and a member of CJFE's board of directors. The panel of exiled journalists from Burundi, Iran, Serbia, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka will share their experiences of press freedom denied.
Internet regulators, Internet service providers, and cyber liberties campaigners are engaging in lively debate on 3 May at "The Internet - Extending Press Freedom?", a seminar organised by ARTICLE 19 and Index on Censorship in conjunction with the United Kingdom National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. The debate takes place at London's Cyberia Café. The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) is also among the groups contributing to the event. While Serbian journalists will explain how they were able to use the Internet to circumvent official censorship, British journalists who have been prosecuted for web-related offences will discuss "the increasingly complex relationship between traditional media and the web." Participants will also address the role of the Internet in mobilising groups for international solidarity efforts; the relationship between the Internet and traditional media; and Internet regulations. More information can be viewed on ARTICLE 19's website:
The Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI) commemorated World Press Freedom Day in Indonesia this year by organising two radio shows widely broadcast throughout the country. The first, which was aired on 38 national radio stations on 27 April, focused on the kidnaping of Indonesian journalist Hoesin Kalahapan, a journalist at Tabloid Menara, Samarinda, East Kalimantan, who was kidnapped on 3 April in Jakarta. The second broadcast on "Press Freedom and Communalism", which took place on 1 May, featured various speakers including the Secretary General of AJI, Didik Supriyanto. In addition, AJI will be launching its recently published book, "Threats to Press Freedom in Indonesia: the Violations of Journalists and Media (1 January 2000 - 30 April 2000)" in May. To obtain more information from AJI about its book or radio shows, contact AJI, E-mail:
The independent press in Azerbaijan has significantly grown in the last decade and plays an increasingly-important role in preventing human rights violations and in contributing to democratic education in the country, reports the Journalists' Trade Union (JuHI) on the occasion of 3 May. While the independent press continues to withstand pressures for carrying out their work, violations of journalists' rights decreased dramatically in the last year, says JuHI, formerly known as the Trade Union of Journalists (TUJo). In addition, the independent media in Azerbaijan have greatly benefitted from the international efforts by the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), ARTICLE 19, and the IFEX Clearing House. In commemoration of 3 May, JuHI organised a conference on 26 April on "The role of mass media in building civil society: Mass media and elections."
On 3 May, the Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (Union of Journalists of Paraguay, SPP) is presenting a summary of the state of free expression in Paraguay, with a focus on the "professional performance of journalists." SPP is also presenting a letter signed by international organisations addressed to the President of Paraguay, asking for his assistance in the investigation into the alleged "crime" of journalist Santiago Leguizamón. Leguizamón was imprisoned on 26 April 1992, which happened to be the Day of the Paraguayan Journalist. The group is also appealing to the President of Colombia, urging him to clarify the circumstances of the murders of journalists in recent years as well as to offer greater security to the Colombian media. A copy of SPP's report can be obtained by contacting SPP, Humaitá 186, c/Ntra.Sra., Asunción, Paraguay; Tel/Fax: +595 21 440 617; E-mail:
In the context of the year 2000 being the United Nations-declared year of the Culture of Peace, UN leaders encourage groups to commemorate the first World Press Freedom Day of the new century by focusing on media freedom in conflict and post-conflict zones. In 1999, the number of journalists and media workers killed for their work dramatically increased from the previous year and while a significant number of the murders remain unexplained, many of the attacks against journalists occurred in war-torn areas such as the Balkans, Sierra Leone and Colombia. In a press release, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura note the critical role that free expression plays in the development of a transparent, accountable society that practices good governance and the rule of law. UNESCO Assistant Director-General Alain Modoux adds that press freedom is key to economic and social development.
Violence and repressive legislation are among the many obstacles facing journalists in the Western Hemisphere, says the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). 3 May arrives amidst "a series of curtailments of the right to freedom of expression" in the region, reports IAPA, which underlines its determination to take action against these curtailments. Within the week leading up to 3 May alone, IAPA, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and Reporters sans frontières (RSF) regrettably report the murder of a Guatemalan journalist as well as a Mexican journalist. On 27 April, Roberto Martínez, a Guatemalan photographer for "Prensa Libre" was killed, and two other journalists were injured, when private security guards opened fire on rioters in Guatemala City, say RSF and CPJ. On 28 April, Mexican reporter and radio news anchor José Ramírez Puente was murdered in Ciudad Juárez, reports IAPA.
IFEX members and other freedom of expression and human rights organisations join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to commemorate World Press Freedom Day on 3 May through a wide range of events and activities worldwide. The IFEX Clearing House has created a special page on its website at http://www.ifex.org where information about these activities is available in English, French and Spanish. This page also includes a number of previously-announced press releases and reports for World Press Freedom Day, including the International Press Institute's (IPI) 50 World Press Freedom Heroes, and Freedom House's annual survey of the level of press freedom in 186 countries. In addition, both this and next week's "Communiques" (#9-18, #9-19) will be special World Press Freedom Day issues, focusing on the array of activities and events planned to celebrate 3 May.