29 January 2002
Volume 11 - 2002 Issue 04 (29 Jan. 2002)
As Nepal's state of emergency enters its third month, the government continues to shut down journalists' and human rights groups' attempts to monitor events on the ground, says the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES). The organisation says a number of reports have surfaced about the killing of more than a dozen civilians in Dang, Rolpha and other areas, but notes that the media have been prohibited from going to those areas. It expresses concern about the "possible misuse of authority of security personnel." Since the state of emergency was declared on 26 November 2001, over 48 journalists have been interrogated, harassed or arrested by police forces, says CEHURDES. Under the state of emergency, nearly all constitutionally-guaranteed rights including free expression and press freedom, have been suspended. [See IFEX "Communiqu%26#233;" #10-48
Ngawang Choephel, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker and ethnomusicologist, has been released from prison in China after serving six years of an 18-year sentence, say Reporters sans frontières (RSF) and Amnesty International (AI). On 20 January, authorities released Choephel on medical grounds. Accompanied by a representative from the American embassy in Beijing, he flew immediately to the United States, where he is receiving medical treatment, says RSF.
A workshop convened last week by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Freedom of Information Center (FIC) has adopted a protocol calling for the creation of a law on freedom of information in Armenia, writes the Yerevan Press Club (YPC).
Three journalists have been the targets of attempted assassinations two weeks ago, sparking fears that terrorist attacks against the media in Spain's Basque country are starting up again, observe Reporters sans frontières (RSF) and the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).
The Cambodian press must forge links with international organisations to improve its ability to carry out effective monitoring of press freedom abuses and advocacy work, concludes a workshop recently conducted by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).
Amidst an "escalation in the harassment of Vietnamese dissidents," the Vietnamese government has recently signed a decree ordering police to "confiscate and destroy publications that do not have official approval," reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Signed on 8 January, the decree targets various publications for confiscation, including the memoirs of Vietnam's most well-known dissident, Tran Do, and hard-copy editions of an Internet forum containing articles supportive of political reform. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) notes that Tran Do is a retired general and former senior Communist Party official who has been advocating reform.
Afghanistan's first independent news weekly to hit the streets in five years has returned. Reporters sans frontières (RSF) and Index on Censorship say "Kabul Weekly" is the first publication of its kind to be published since the collapse of the Taliban regime. Written in Pashto, Dari, English and French, the weekly came out on 24 January, with a print run of 2,500 copies. RSF says the newspaper was quickly sold out in the capital. The editor in chief, Faheem Dashty, tells the organisation that his staff of 10 journalists is "extremely enthusiastic and determined to report the news without fail."
The ongoing violence in Colombia has claimed the lives of two more journalists in the past 10 days. On 23 January, Marco Antonio Ayala Cárdenas, a photographer for the daily "El Caleño", was gunned down outside the newspaper's offices by two individuals who were riding a motorcycle, say Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF). IPYS says six shots were fired at Ayala Cárdenas' head. He was brought to a nearby hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.
One year after the ascent to power of the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) President Joseph Kabila, journalists remain "very threatened and exposed to possible reprisals" from the government and the country's many security forces, declares a joint report issued by Journaliste en danger (JED) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF). Issued on 26 January, the first anniversary of Kabila's appointment, the report says that, despite the new president's pledge to support human rights and democracy, the DRC still has one of the highest numbers of arrested journalists in Africa. "The president has not respected his commitments and has sent journalists to prison. He remains one of the world's press freedom predators," the report says.