4 June 2002
Volume 11 - 2002 Issue 22 (04 Jun. 2002)
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is seeking nominations for the 2002 CJFE International Press Freedom Awards. Each year, two prizes are awarded to journalists who "overcome enormous odds" to report the news. The awards are open to journalists or media outlets who demonstrate a commitment to human rights, report on issues or from issues rarely covered by other media, and have taken personal risks or suffered physical reprisals for their work. Those who have been previously awarded a major press freedom prize are not eligible.
Globalisation and the liberation of trade barriers are not leading to greater universal access to the Internet in Africa. So said African civil society representatives at a conference last week held in preparation for the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), reports the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Eight Caribbean nations have pledged to uphold press freedom principles by signing the Declaration of Chapultepec, reports the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). The organisation recently undertook a visit to Caribbean countries to promote the declaration, a set of 10 principles IAPA deems necessary to guarantee press freedom and support democracy. During the visit, the following governments added their names to the 27 heads of state in the Americas who have already endorsed the declaration - St Vincent and the Grenadines; Guyana; Suriname; Dominica; the Bahamas; St Kitts & Nevis; Aruba; and the Netherlands Antilles. Antigua & Barbuda and St Lucia have pledged to sign in the coming weeks.
Turkmenistan lacks any freedom of expression. Censorship is total. Secrecy is becoming a nation-wide phenomenon and an "absolute state monopoly" exists over the media. This is the stark conclusion of the Organization for Security and Co-operation's (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Freimut Duve.
Miguel Antonio Bernal, one of Panama's leading journalists, has been acquitted in a criminal defamation case that has once again focused attention on what the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls the country's notoriously restrictive press laws. On 29 May Judge Lorena Hernandez threw out slander charges filed against Bernal by former Police Director José Luis Sosa, a decision the Attorney General immediately announced it would appeal. Luis Sosa filed the charges in 1998 after Bernal stated in a television interview that the National Police should be held responsible for the death of four inmates at the Isla de Coiba prison, says CPJ. If convicted, Bernal could face two years in prison.
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) is calling for an investigation into the murder of newspaper owner Alexander Plotnikov, shot and killed on 20 May. He was co-owner of "Gostini dvor," a regional newspaper based in Tumen, Siberia. Investigators suspect he was killed by hired assassins.
The United Nations' Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders has declared Guatemala's human rights situation "serious" and demanded the government investigate paramilitary groups' threats against human rights workers, reports the Center of Informative Reports on Guatemala (Centro de Reportes Informativos Sobre Guatemala, CERIGUA).
"Impunity is the single greatest threat to the physical survival of the press around the world," says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The organisation released a new study today showing that 389 journalists were murdered in the line of duty between 1992 and 2001.
You might think only soccer players who commit flagrant fouls against opponents merit red cards (the worst penalties a player can receive). Not according to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) which used the occasion of the World Cup this week to alert the world to press freedom conditions in five event-qualifying countries.