16 May 2000
Volume 09 - 2000 Issue 20 (16 May)
On 23 May, journalists and media workers from Hungary, Russia, the Philippines, Egypt and Australia will be among those participating in an Internet Webcast and discussion on women in the media, reports the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF). Sponsored by the Freedom Forum, the IWMF's Webcast is part of IWMF's conference on "Women in the News Media: A Focus on Leadership". In particular, participants will discuss the roles, responsibilities and challenges facing women in positions of media leadership. To participate in the Webcast on 23 May, visit IWMF's website at
Violations of press freedom have increased in Nepal as a result of an ongoing armed rebellion, according to an annual report published on World Press Freedom Day by the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES). Authorities have arrested journalists, and confiscated and banned publications thought to be sympathetic to the underground Maoist movement. On the other side, suspected Maoist activists kidnapped and later released Bidur Dhungel, co-editor of "Nawa Aakash" monthly, earlier this year. Other journalists have also received threats from members of the Maoist party. Other press freedom violations in the past year include the murder of Shambhu Prasad Patel, Vice President of Nepal Press Union (NPU) Rautahat branch, who was shot by two unidentified gunmen on 23 January and died on 5 February. CEHURDES can be contacted at:
Francisco Santos Calderón, the exiled Editor-in-Chief of the Colombian daily, "El Tiempo", will address the opening session of the 53rd World Newspaper Congress and the 7th World Editors Forum, which runs from 11 to 14 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Santos, who was kidnapped in 1990 and held for eight months, has been working via e-mail from Miami since March this year, when he learned of plans to assassinate him. The theme of the 53rd World Newspaper Congress is Re-inventing the Newspaper Company: Strategies and Achievements and the 7th World Editors Forum will focus on News in the New Century, with press freedom as a central component of both. The event will also entail a round table on press freedom and a talk by President of Inter American Press Association (IAPA) President Tony Pederson on the "Dangers to the Free Press in Latin America." In addition, the 2000 Golden Pen of Freedom will be awarded to Syrian journalist Nizar Nayouf by Ruth de Aquino, President of the World Editors Forum. Nayouf remains gravely ill in prison in Syria. Further information on the events can be obtained by visiting the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) website at
Vietnam's human rights performance continues to fall far short of international standards despite economic and social changes since the late 1980's, says Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a recently released report entitled "Vietnam: Silencing of Dissent". While the report notes some of the positive changes that have taken place in recent years in Vietnam as the country has opened up more to the international community, it stipulates that significant human rights problems remain. Freedom of expression, free association, and other basic rights continue to be seriously constrained and Vietnam's domestic media remains under strict state control, says the report.
"For Iran's emerging independent press, the April clampdown was the culmination of a relentless judicial campaign of harassment and censorship over the last two years," says a recently released report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) entitled "Iran: The Press on Trial". With the recent banning of sixteen Iranian publications by the courts and the jailing of a number of journalists, the clampdown on the press in Iran is not lifting, report CPJ, the International Press Institute (IPI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Reporters sans frontières (RSF) and the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN.
The day before World Press Freedom Day, the government of Sri Lanka imposed a new set of regulations that impose severe reporting restrictions on journalists and media groups, report the Free Media Movement (FMM) of Sri Lanka, Reporters sans frontières (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and ARTICLE 19. These are "the most draconian [regulations] ever imposed on the media in Sri Lanka," says CPJ, based on reports from local journalists. The regulations were imposed after the rebel LTTE forces made critical military advances, says CPJ. According to ARTICLE 19, authorities claim that extending reporting restrictions will help to resolve the country's crisis in Jaffna. FMM also notes that these measures will be in force for the three months leading up to Sri Lanka's general elections in August.
Over the last three weeks, six journalists have been murdered while carrying out their work. Representing five distinct world regions, the following journalists were killed: Roberto Martínez of Guatemala on 27 April; José Ramírez Puente of Mexico on 28 April; Sufi Mohammad Khan of Pakistan on 2 May; José Luis López de la Calle of Spain on 7 May; Saoman Conteh of Sierra Leone on 8 May; and Alexander Yefremov of Chechnya, Russia on 12 May.