14 May 2002
Volume 11 - 2002 Issue 19 (14 May 2002)
Zimbabwe and Venezuela are among five countries the International Press Institute (IPI) has decided to keep on its Watch List of countries where restrictions on press freedom appear to be worsening. Meeting at its 51st general assembly in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 9 May, IPI's executive board said it was "profoundly disturbed" by the Zimbabwean government and ruling Zanu-PF party's continued attacks on independent journalists. On Venezuela, IPI said there appeared to be a climate of intimidation among journalists since the return of president Hugo Chávez after a failed coup attempt.
As a reminder that "reporting the news can be difficult, dangerous and deadly," Freedom Forum has added the names of 51 journalists killed last year to its Journalists Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Marking World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, the organisation held a ceremony in Freedom Park to commemorate the 51 deaths, the most recorded by Freedom Forum since 1995. In attendance were friends, family members and colleagues of the journalists.
The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) has announced that it will honour three journalists from Canada, Russia and Zimbabwe for showing "exceptional courage and bravery in the face of grave danger." They will be presented with the 2002 Courage in Journalism awards at ceremonies held in New York and Los Angeles in October.
The government of Mexico has passed the country's first access to information law, drawing praise from the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Organisation of American States' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. Passed by Congress on 30 April, the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information is a good first step, says IAPA, although "much needs to be done" to ensure "all Mexican citizens will have access to information when they request it."
The governments of Kenya and the Gambia are facing criticism from free-expression groups following the passage of media laws last week that respectively impose "exorbitant publishing fees" on newspapers and give the government the right to licence journalists and force reporters to reveal confidential sources.
The World Association of Newspapers (WAN), Human Rights Watch and the International Press Institute are helping launch a new Arab press freedom group aimed at defending free expression and promoting independent media and democratic principles.
On 13 May, Philippine journalist Edgar Damalerio was shot and killed by two unidentified individuals on motorcycle while driving home from work. He is the second journalist killed in the southern Philippines since January, says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).
Police officials in the southern Russian city of Togliatti have opened a criminal investigation into the murder of newspaper editor Valery Ivanov, shot dead outside his home the evening of 30 April, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Ivanov, editor of "Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye," was shot eight times at point-blank range as he was entering his car. Colleagues say his murder is connected to the reporting he has done on local organised crime, official corruption and drug trafficking. Ivanov was also a deputy in the local Legislative Assembly.
Journalists in Uzbekistan, a country where freedom of expression is brutally suppressed by the government of Islam Karimov, needs more support from international groups, says the Journalist Trade Union (JuHI). JuHI President Azer Hasret has recently released a report on press freedom conditions in Uzbekistan following a week-long fact-finding mission to the country in April.
The year 2001 will go down as one of the worst for press freedom in Nepal's recent history, says the Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES). Amid a state of emergency, hundreds of journalists were detained â some reportedly tortured â while the army engaged in a war with Maoist rebels. Meanwhile, over two dozen journalists continue to be held without charge.