25 July 2000
Volume 09 - 2000 Issue 29 (25 Jul.)
Probidad has just published its online magazine, "Revista Probidad", which includes articles, reports and editorials on corruption and regional initiatives to challenge corruption throughout Latin America. The magazine is published by Probidad, a Salvadoran civil society organisation that promotes democracy and anti-corruption. The publication includes articles by journalists, writers and human rights workers from throughout Latin America, including by IFEX member representatives such as Byron Barrera of the Comisión de Libertad de Prensa de la Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala (Press Freedom Committee of the Guatemalan Association of Journalists, APG). It also lists organisations working on anti-corruption throughout the region. To view the magazine on line, go to
Seven of Canada's national and regional media organisations are legally challenging the Toronto police's recent seizure of the media outlets' film and videotapes on the basis of media freedom and independence, reports the "The Toronto Star". Subsequent to a 15 June demonstration in front of the provincial legislature which saw violent clashes between police and protesters, the police served 14 search warrants to media outlets which enabled them to seize the outlets' footage of the event. The demonstration was organised to protest the provincial government's response to homelessness, with protesters stating that some of the government's social policies have led directly to a homelessness crisis in the province.
The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) has just published the fourth edition of its "Resource Directory". The directory provides a comprehensive list of women and men journalists and media organisations from all around the world. In addition, the publication details a number of different resources for women journalists, including women's media organisations, fellowship programs and media related web sites. The IWMF was created in 1990 with the goal of strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide. To obtain a copy of IWMF's "Resource Directory", contact IWMF, 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 1002, Washington, DC, 20036, United States; Tel: +202 496 1992; Fax: +202 496 1977; E-mail:
The Panamanian government has failed to reform its gag laws and is continuing to use these laws against journalists, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN). Within in the last two weeks, two local journalists were sentenced to prison for "defaming public officials," says CPJ. The laws contain a wide range of articles concerning defamation and censorship. Under Article 386 of Panama's judicial code, the attorney general is granted with the "summary power to jail anyone who offends him for up to eight days" and those charged under this statute are denied the right to defend themselves.
Individuals everywhere are encouraged to sign the Reporters sans frontières (RSF) online petition for the release of Burmese journalist and novelist San San Nweh. San San Nweh continues to serve her ten-year prison sentence, received in 1994, for "producing and sending anti-government reports to international radio stations and foreign journalists passing through the country," says RSF. Held in the harsh prison conditions of the Insein prison in Rangoon for five years, San San Nweh participated in the 1988 pro-democracy movement in Burma through the publication of two magazines, "Gita Pade-tha" and "Ein-met-hpu". Her husband and daughter were also imprisoned. The petition can be viewed and signed at RSF's website: http://www.rsf.fr
Seven international human rights organisations have jointly condemned the Egyptian government's continued detention of human rights defenders, reports ARTICLE 19. In particular, the statement points to the cases of Saad El-Din Ibrahim and Nadia 'Abd al-Nur of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo, whose detention orders were recently extended by the Egyptian State Security Prosecution. The prosecution, however, has failed to name the precise charges or legal provisions under which the individuals are being charged. The charges "are so lacking in detail that they do not allow the defence to challenge the lawfulness of the detention order," say the signatories of the joint protest. According to defence lawyers, the charges seem to be related to several accusations, including "receiving foreign funding without permission of the authorities, falsification of election documents and dissemination of false information harmful to Egypt." Charges related to receiving foreign funding without government permission carry a minimum of seven years' imprisonment under the Military Decree 4.
State violence against opposition activists is escalating, says Human Rights Watch (HRW). Whereas police harassment and beatings were previously "limited mostly to detention and interrogation," an increasing number of students and activists have been beaten in recent weeks by police or "thugs" believed to be acting on behalf of Serbian authorities. "Since June, opposition activists face not only detention but also physical violence," reports HRW. Representatives of Otpor (Resistance), an anti-government group which the government has repeatedly referred to as a "fascist" and "terrorist" organisation, are being beaten for carrying Otpor information or the Otpor symbol. Otpor, which has rapidly gained in popularity and support, "has repeatedly demanded free elections in Serbia and carried out street actions ridiculing the government's policies," says HRW.