IFEX Communiqué 5 September 2006
----| IFEX COMMUNIQUÉ VOL 15 NO 35 | 5 SEPTEMBER 2006 | ------
The IFEX Communiqué is the weekly newsletter of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), a global network of 72 organisations working to defend and promote the right to free expression. IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (www.cjfe.org).
--------------| Visit the IFEX website: http://www.ifex.org |------------------
----- | INDEX | ------
FREE EXPRESSION SPOTLIGHT:
1. Australia: Anti-Terrorism Laws Threaten to Muzzle Press
2. Bahrain: Rights Groups Criticise Anti-Terrorism Law
3. The Gambia: Media Repression Means Elections Won't be Fair
4. Indonesia: Majority of Journalists Vastly Underpaid: AJI Survey
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS &
5. MFWA to Host Meeting on Strengthening African Media
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS:
6. HIV/AIDS Red Ribbon Media Award for Excellence in Journalism
7. CBA-Amnesty International Award for Human Rights Programme
8. Deutsche Welle Seeks Nominations for Best Free Expression Blog
9. id21 Insights: Tuning into Community Radio
ALERTS ISSUED BY THE IFEX CLEARING HOUSE LAST WEEK
FREE EXPRESSION SPOTLIGHT
1. AUSTRALIA: ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS THREATEN TO MUZZLE PRESS
Press freedom in Australia has declined dramatically over the past 12 months, with new laws threatening to cast a chill on journalists who report on terrorism, a new report by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has concluded.
One of the biggest barriers to press freedom has come in the form of the Anti-Terrorism (No.2) Act 2005, passed by Parliament last December. Under the Act, any person who reports unlawfully disclosed information about terrorism suspects detained by police, including the length of their detention or any other information relating to the order, can be jailed for five years.
The legislation also gives police more powers to obtain documents that relate to a terrorism offence, or serious offence, with no protection for a journalist's professional privilege. Federal police can force journalists to hand over information if it will help in the investigation of a "serious offence," including information pertaining to the identity of a confidential source. The penalty for refusing to comply is A$3,300 (US$2,500).
Parliament also passed the Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Act on 30 March 2006, giving police and other security agencies authority to tap the phones of individuals considered "third parties to suspected terrorist plots." The new law targets anyone who interacts with suspects of serious crime. Journalists who contact terror suspects for a story may have their phone tapped, giving authorities access not only to conversations with the suspect but those of other innocent sources. "At any time police could be listening, obliterating any professional right the journalist has to protect the confidentiality of their source," says MEAA.
Under the Act, government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Customs Service and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission can also access private communications such as e-mails and SMS text messages.
On the positive side, MEAA noted that victory was achieved in the area of defamation law. A new federal defamation law came into effect on 1 January 2006, replacing the varying defamation laws in each of Australia's states. It narrows the scope for bringing a defamation action to court by requiring lawsuits to be filed within one year of publication. It also bars large corporations from suing for defamation. The new law also limits financial damages to A$250,000 (US$193,000) unless there are aggravating circumstances.
To read MEAA's report, visit: http://www.alliance.org.au/images/stories/pdf/2006_press_freedom_report.pdf
- MEAA: http://www.alliance.org.au/
- IFEX: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/174/
- ARTICLE 19: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/analysis/australia-sedition-review.pdf
- Former Judge Slams Anti-Terrorism Law: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2006/03/australia-anti-terror-laws-go-too-far.php
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
2. BAHRAIN: RIGHTS GROUPS CRITICISE ANTI-TERRORISM LAW
As Bahrain prepares to hold parliamentary elections in October 2006, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) has expressed alarm that a new anti-terrorism law enacted in August could give authorities more grounds to crack down on opposition critics and civil society groups.
In an analysis of the "Protecting Society from Terrorist Acts" legislation, EOHR says "terrorism" is defined so vaguely that it includes "threats to national unity." The law, however, does not define terrorist associations and organisations, implying instead that any "political organisation opposed to the Bahraini Constitution" is a terrorist body. The law also criminalises "the promotion of terrorist acts and the possession of documents containing such promotional material."
The new law has been criticised by other human rights groups, including the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and Amnesty International. The U.N. Committee against Torture and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and anti-terrorism have also expressed concern.
EOHR says the new law only adds to existing government restrictions on civil society and media that continue to stifle free expression. A decree issued in August ordered Internet service providers in the country to block access to Google's Video feature. Bahraini non-governmental organisations attributed the blocking to several videos that were critical of the Bahraini government. The ban was lifted a few days later following protests by local civil society groups.
However, authorities continue to block access to the country's eight most active opposition websites and forums, including Bahrain Online (http://bahrainonline.org/).
- EOHR: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/76777/
- BCHR: http://www.bahrainrights.org/
- Amnesty International: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE110032006?open&of=ENG-BHR
- International Press Institute: http://www.freemedia.at/cms/ipi/freedom_detail.html?country=/KW0001/KW0004/KW0089/
3. THE GAMBIA: MEDIA REPRESSION MEANS ELECTIONS WON'T BE FAIR
A free and fair election in the Gambia will be impossible as long as the Gambian government continues to attack journalists and independent newspapers that criticise authorities, warns Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).
"The situation of press freedom and public access to information is so catastrophic that it alone suffices to disqualify these elections. There is no way the international community will be able to say that the 22 September elections were democratic," the group says in an analysis of press freedom conditions in the country.
Gambia's privately-owned media are now in the grip of fear, with death threats, surveillance, night-time arrests, arbitrary detention and mistreatment being the norm for journalists who refuse to sing the government's praises. Those who dare report these attacks to international organisations find themselves targets of intimidation by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), RSF says.
During the recent African Union summit, hosted by The Gambia on 1-2 July, at least nine journalists were arrested and held illegally for several days. The editor of the privately-owned "Daily Express" newspaper, Sulayman Makato, has been forced into hiding since 14 July after getting two anonymous threats.
Another private newspaper, "The Independent", has been regularly targeted by authorities, notes RSF. Its printing press was set on fire in 2004 by men suspected of being members of the National Guard. The paper's headquarters have been sealed and it has been illegally prevented from publishing since 28 March 2006. One of its journalists, Lamin Fatty, was held for more than a month without access to a lawyer and is now being tried under a press law that criminalises press offences.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that another journalist, "Chief" Ebrimah B. Manneh of the pro-government "Daily Observer", has been missing since 7 July and is believed to be in NIA custody. Former journalist Malick Mboob has been in NIA custody since 26 May.
Meanwhile, the murder of leading journalist Deyda Hydara remains unsolved nearly two years after he was shot dead in his car on 16 December 2004. Gambian authorities have made no serious attempts to identify either the perpetrators or instigators of his murder, says RSF. The only official statement from the officials responsible for the investigation came six months later. It suggested that the murder could have been linked to his sex life.
Visit these links:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18727
- Open Letter by Gambian Journalist: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18165
- Who Killed Deyda Hydara? http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=13790
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/africa/gambia14july06na.html
- BBC Profile of The Gambia: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1032156.stm
4. INDONESIA: MAJORITY OF JOURNALISTS VASTLY UNDERPAID: AJI SURVEY
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI) has found in a country-wide survey of Indonesian media that more than 50 per cent of journalists are unable to cover their basic needs with their salary and are forced to take on other jobs to support themselves.
Conducted in 2005 as part of AJI's Media for Democracy in Indonesia project, the survey covered 17 cities and 400 interviewees. Funding and support was provided by the European Commission and the International Federation of Journalists.
Survey questions focused on seven issues, including wages and working conditions, trade unions, corruption in media (journalists accepting "envelope" bribes in exchange for stories), workload in newsrooms, media legal defence, safety for journalists, and gender equity.
The survey also found that more than 60 per cent of Indonesian journalists are paid less than 150 Euros (US$190) a month.
For more information on the survey, which is due to be published in a book entitled "Portait of Indonesian Journalists", contact Lensi Mursida: email@example.com
Visit these links:
- AJI: http://www.ajiindonesia.org or http://www.aji-jakarta.org
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org
- European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/index_en.htm
CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS & EVENTS
5. MFWA TO HOST MEETING ON STRENGTHENING AFRICAN MEDIA
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) will be hosting a meeting in Accra, Ghana on 18-19 September 2006 to canvass the views of West African media professionals and communications experts on ways to strengthen African media and attract more investment.
The meeting is being held as part of a consultation process by the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)'s "Strengthening Africa's Media" office, which aims to develop a strategy that will make the case for enhanced investment in media. The strategy document will then provide the basis for a future stakeholder conference to discuss and agree on immediate and longer-term priorities for attracting financing.
Participants will be asked to articulate concerns and perspectives, identify priority issues and areas requiring support, and propose concrete initiatives and programmes towards a strengthened media sector. The meeting is supported by several donors, including the Open Society Institute and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
For more information, visit: http://www.mfwaonline.org or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
6. HIV/AIDS RED RIBBON MEDIA AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Journalists from East Africa are encouraged to apply for the HIV/AIDS Red Ribbon Media Award for Excellence in Journalism, which honours exceptional reporting on HIV and AIDS in Africa.
Administered by UNESCO in cooperation with UNAIDS, the award is open to radio, television, print and online journalists from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.
There are three award categories: print/online, radio and television. Winners of the top prize in each category will receive US$1,500 and a certificate of achievement. Second- and third-place finishers each receive $750 and $500 respectively and certificates of achievement.
All entries must have been published or broadcast between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2005 inclusive.
The deadline is 30 September 2006.
For more information, visit: http://aids-africa.unon.org/AwardBackground.htm
7. CBA-AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME
The Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) invites entries for the CBA-Amnesty International Award for Human Rights Programme. The award honours radio or television work that covers human rights and is likely to have made an impact on public policy.
The award is open to both CBA members and non-members. CBA members and affiliates can send one free entry, after which they must pay a fee of £20 (US$40) for every additional entry. Non-members must pay £60 (US$115) per entry.
The jury will be looking for radio or television features in any language that are challenging, have high production values and are engaging for a wide audience. Features should be at least 10 minutes and not more than 1 hour in length, and should have been broadcast for the first time between October 2005 and October 2006. Entries sent by e-mail will not be accepted.
The deadline for submitting entries is 15 October 206.
To download entry forms, visit: http://www.cba.org.uk/documents/CBAHumanRightsAwardForm2007.doc
more information, contact: CBA Awards, Commonwealth
17 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AA, United Kingdom; Tel: +44 207 583 5550; E-mail: email@example.com
8. DEUTSCHE WELLE SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR BEST FREE EXPRESSION BLOG
Bloggers and Internet users around the world are encouraged to make nominations for the Reporters Without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle's 2006 Best of the Blogs competition.
The award recognises blogs, podcasts and videocasts that take a strong stance in defence of freedom of expression and press freedom.
Blogs, podcasts and videocasts are eligible for the award as long as they are produced in one of the competition's 10 official languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). The winner will receive an Apple iPod Video.
Last year, the award went to Egyptian bloggers Alaa Abd El-Fatah and his wife Manal for their blog "Manal and Alaa's bit bucket" (http://www.manalaa.net/).
The deadline for submitting nominations is 30 September 2006.
For more information,
9. ID21 INSIGHTS: TUNING INTO COMMUNITY RADIO
Id21 Insights, a monthly newsletter on the latest trends in communications research, has devoted a recent issue to community radio and its role in spreading access to information in the developing world.
ALERTS ISSUED BY THE IFEX CLEARING HOUSE DURING THE PAST WEEK
Peru - Students assault reporter and cameraman covering protests against mining company in Cajamarca, local residents hold four journalists captive for several hours (IPYS) - alert
Israel/Palestine - Israeli missiles strike Reuters vehicle in Gaza; Fox News journalists released (RSF) - alert
Colombia - Newspaper editor receives death threats, students threaten to burn newspaper office, following report on university official (IAPA) - alert
Russia - CPJ protests continued harassment of weekly newspaper in Perm (CPJ) - alert
Liberia - Journalist beaten by rioting university students (CEMESP) - alert
Mexico - AMARC alarmed by aggression against Oaxacan journalists and media outlets, places blame principally on federal and state governments (AMARC) - capsule report
Guatemala - Radio station director received death threat day before murder attempt on station's journalist (CPJ) - alert update
Peru - Television journalist struck by member of presidential guard (IPYS) - alert
Sudan - US journalist, driver and interpreter arrested and charged with "spying" in Darfur (RSF) - alert
Philippines - Arrests made in cases of slain reporters Albert Orsolino and Prudencio Melendres (CMFR) - alert update
Nepal - Journalist assaulted (FNJ) - alert
Philippines - Government accuses media of having links with communist groups (CMFR) - alert
Colombia - Congressman's stigmatising accusations against journalists put them
at risk, says FLIP (FLIP) - alert
Colombia - Journalists threatened, in danger of assault by protestors in Santa Marta (IPYS) - alert
China - Apple Computer subcontractor sues journalists for critical report on working conditions (RSF) - alert
Colombia - Radio commentator gunned down in Cartagena after criticising government corruption and paramilitary influence (CPJ) - alert
Lesotho - Editor faces defamation suit (MISA) - alert
Tanzania - Minister takes legal action against three journalists over critical article (MISA) - alert
Swaziland - Media warned against criticising king (MISA) - alert
Sri Lanka - Mounting concern about government's failure to protect journalists as Tamil radio director is kidnapped (RSF) - alert
Sri Lanka - News director of Tamil-language radio station goes missing (FMM) - alert
Vietnam - Dissident writer Pham Hong Son to be released (CPJ) - alert update
Iraq - Car bomb attacks on "Al-Sabah" newspaper and hotel used by foreign journalists (RSF) - alert
International - CJFE International Press Freedom Award winners hail from Colombia, Egypt and Pakistan (CJFE) - press release
Australia - Victoria Supreme Court rejects appeal by two "Herald Sun" reporters facing imprisonment (RSF) - alert update
Venezuela - Journalist shot to death in Anzoátegui (IPYS) - alert
Mexico - Journalist received death threats prior to car bombing in Mérida (IPYS) - alert update
Pakistan - BBC reporter's brother killed in Pakistani tribal area (CPJ) - alert
Syria - Cyber-dissident held for past 20 days, while another prevented from resuming studies after release (RSF) - alert update
Indonesia - AJI calls for decriminalisation of press offences as editor's religious defamation trial begins (SEAPA) - alert
Democratic Republic of Congo - Journalists working for private television station reportedly victims of attacks and anonymous threats (JED) - alert
South Africa - Publishing group threatens former employee with legal action for defamation over critical pamphlet (FXI) - alert
Mexico - IAPA calls for action against journalist's murderers (IAPA) - alert update
Pakistan - Reporter brutally assaulted and humiliated (PPF) - alert
Mali - Six radio station staff sentenced to one month in prison with no parole for broadcasting without a licence (RSF) - alert
Croatia/Serbia - SEEMO concerned about attacks, threats, sentences against journalists, increasing press restrictions (IPI) - alert
Guatemala - Wounded radio host in stable condition, agricultural corporation denies involvement in murder attempt (CPJ) - alert update
Cyprus - Turkish Cypriot forces detain television team (IFJ) - alert
Philippines - Gunshot attack on reporter linked to personal dispute (CMFR) - alert update
China - Apple iPod subcontractor reduces damages claim against journalists to token amount (RSF) - alert update
Philippines - President's husband suing journalists after allegedly having their programme cancelled, also suing "Daily Tribune" columnist and "Malaya" newspaper publisher (CMFR) - alert
United States - Two "San Francisco Chronicle" reporters face possible imprisonment for withholding sources (RSF) - alert
Philippines - House of Representatives approves bill that will lessen use of libel suits to harass media (CMFR) - alert
Venezuela - Regional newspaper photo-journalist assaulted by police (IPYS) - alert
Sudan - Police arrest three reporters and beat Al-Jazeera cameraman at Khartoum demonstration (RSF) - alert
Cambodia - Officials bar French filmmaker from leaving the country in bid to extort money (RSF) - alert
Philippines - Former president files libel case against journalist, editors, sources for articles on alleged corruption (CMFR) - alert update
Philippines - Congressman sues journalist for libel (CMFR) - alert
Philippines - Broadcaster's 32-year prison sentence for libel upheld by appeals court (CMFR) - alert update
China - "Straits Times" correspondent Ching Cheong receives five-year prison sentence (RSF) - alert update
Sri Lanka - Despite release of kidnapped Tamil journalist, climate of fear persists (RSF) - alert update
Sri Lanka - Abducted journalist Nadaraja Guruparan released (FMM) - alert update
Australia - MEAA releases 2006 report, describes "continuation of the dramatic decline of press freedom" (MEAA) - press release
Nepal - Journalists, newspaper threatened by former public official over critical article (FNJ) - alert
Venezuela - Murdered journalist had previously received death threats (CPJ) - alert update
Australia - Contempt case at odds with planned legislation to protect journalists' confidential sources, says MEAA (MEA) - alert
Mexico - Oaxacan community radio station forced to close by armed PRI sympathisers; another harassed by municipal authorities (AMARC) - alert
Iran - PEN Canada welcomes release from prison of Iranian-Canadian scholar Ramin Jahanbegloo (PEN Canada) - alert update
Argentina - Local politician beats journalist unconscious in Quilmes town hall (RSF) - alert
Vietnam - Writer Pham Hong Son released from prison with conditions (CPJ) - alert update
The "IFEX Communiqué" is published weekly by the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX). IFEX is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (www.cjfe.org) on behalf of the network's 72 member organisations.
The IFEX Communiqué is also available in French, Spanish, Russian (www.ifex.cjes.ru/) and Arabic (http://hrinfo.net/ifex/).
The views expressed in the "IFEX Communiqué" are the sole responsibility of the sources to which they are attributed.
The "IFEX Communiqué" grants permission for its material to be reproduced or republished only if it is credited as the source.