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IFEX Communiqué Vol 15 No 44

----| IFEX COMMUNIQUÉ VOL 15 NO 44 | 7 NOVEMBER 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 (

--------------| Visit the IFEX website: |------------------

----- | INDEX | ------


1. Network of Cities Provides Refuge for Persecuted Writers

2. Nepal: Journalists Face Threats Despite Return to Democracy
3. Pakistan: Press Freedom Deteriorating, Journalist Killed
4. Peru: Proposed NGO Law Threatens Free Expression
5. Argentina: Grant Supports "Dirty War" Author's Legal Battle

6. Iraq: Reporter Gunned Down, TV Stations Censored for Saddam Trial Coverage

7. RSF Launches 24 Hour Online Protest

8. AMARC Conference to Assess Impact of Community Radio

9. Human Rights Watch Honours Courageous Activists
10. Nominations Wanted for Martin Ennals Human Rights Awards

11. Contest Aims to Boost Investigative Reporting in Azerbaijan, Georgia

12. Iraq: Into the Abyss





For many writers around the world, putting pen to paper can be an act that can often land them in prison, bring death threats and sometimes, lead to murder. According to International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), 142 writers around the world were imprisoned, 33 had received death threats and 19 were killed between January and June 2006.

Under these circumstances, the offer of a safe haven overseas can often be a lifeline for writers who are persecuted for expressing their opinions and ideas. Now, a group of cities around the world have banded together to form a new network aimed at giving persecuted writers temporary refuge outside their home countries.

The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is a network of 17 cities that include Barcelona, Frankfurt, Edinburgh, Stockholm, Oslo, Hannover and Mexico City. A secretariat based in Stavanger, Norway, coordinates the network, puts writers in touch with cities of refuge and provides them with a platform to publish their work and share their experiences with other writers and members of the public.

Using information supplied by WiPC researchers, ICORN's secretariat evaluates applications from writers all over the world who apply to become "guest writers" in one of the 17 cities. Only writers who are threatened or threatened as a result of their writing are admitted into the programme. The definition of a writer includes novelists, non-fiction writers, playwrights, poets, editors, translators, publishers, journalists and cartoonists.

Once a writer is selected, he or she is put in touch with a city representative who arranges lodging, financial assistance, translation, and other support in their chosen city of refuge.
During their stay (which can be for up to two years), guest writers are supported by ICORN in several ways. They have access to a quarterly magazine "Babel" in which to publish their work. They are given opportunities to speak about their work at public seminars and reading events. And they have free access to ICORN's blog, where they are encouraged to freely speak their minds and debate free expression issues with other guest writers.

ICORN emerged out of the now defunct International Network of Cities of Asylum (INCA), an initiative of the International Parliament of Writers that closed down in 2004 due to funding difficulties. INCA split into two entities. One group formed the North American Network of Cities of Asylum (NANCA). Another group, led by some of the European cities formerly involved in INCA, met with Norwegian PEN in February 2005 to discuss forming ICORN. NANCA and ICORN now work together as partners.

While ICORN is a new network, (it held its first general assembly in June 2006), it is growing at a steady pace. One of its new projects involves bringing 10 guest writers to the city of Stavanger for one-week periods in 2008 to visit schools and talk to pupils about their work. Their visit will culminate in a public reading that will expose local audiences to writers they would otherwise have little chance of reading.

Visit these links:
- International PEN:
- Norwegian PEN:
- Writers in Exile Network:
- Writers in Prison Committee Caselist of Persecuted Writers:





More than six months after a popular uprising toppled the authoritarian rule of King Gyanendra of Nepal and restored democracy, journalists continue to face threats and attacks despite the government's efforts to protect press freedom, says the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).

"Even after the restoration of democracy, journalists in Nepal have not attained complete press freedom. The challenges are not as extreme as those faced under the royal regime. However, journalists still confront threats, assault and ill-treatment," the organisation notes in a report.

FNJ says very few efforts have been made by the government to support the security and promotion of Nepalese media. Political parties, Maoist rebels and others continue to threaten, harass and intimidate journalists. "The absence of a culture of information-sharing is still prevalent among government authorities and the Maoists, despite their publicly-declared commitment to freedom of speech and expression."

In particular, the Maoists do not want the press to report on their flaws, says FNJ. Although attacks on journalists have largely ended, those who report critically about the rebels still receive threats.

On the positive side, significant steps have been taken by the government to strengthen the Nepalese media and press freedom, says FNJ. After democracy was restored in April 2006, all laws and regulations passed by the king that restricted the media were abolished. In July, the interim government formed a High Level Media Commission made up of journalists and press unions that offered recommendations for strengthening press freedom and the media sector. Those recommendations are now being implemented by the government.

The government has also formed a task force to implement the Working Journalists Act 2051 (1995), which sets out a framework for improving the working conditions of journalists. An international press freedom mission that visited the country in September has urged the government to strengthen the law, saying it does not provide enough protection for journalists. "A large majority of working journalists [are] not covered by its provisions, it denies journalists their right to strike and provisions aiming to enhance the working conditions of journalists have not been implemented," the mission said in a report.

Visit these links:
- FNJ:
- International Mission Urges More Safeguards for Media Freedom:
- High Level Media Commission:
- Maoists Continue to Threaten the Press:
- Government in Talks with Maoists:


The brutal murder of a journalist in Islamabad, Pakistan, and a spate of attacks on other journalists in recent months have prompted calls of concern from the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

On 1 November 2006, the body of Mohammad Ismail, Islamabad bureau chief for Pakistan Press International (PPI), was found near his home. His head was "completely smashed with [a] hard blunt object," CPJ quoted Mazhar Abbas, secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, saying. Ismail's family told Abbas that they were at a loss as to what could have prompted the attack. CPJ noted that Ismail's news agency is not known for being critical of the government in its reporting.

IFJ says press freedom and the safety of journalists in Pakistan have deteriorated in the past six months. Since May, four journalists (including Ismail) have been killed and four others detained and tortured by intelligence agencies. The brothers of two journalists were also murdered, and scores of other journalists have been physically attacked and threatened.

The murdered journalists include Maqbool Hussain Sail, a reporter for the news agency On-Line who was shot by unidentified gunmen on 15 September; Hayat Ullah Khan, a journalist whose body was found on 16 June, six months after being abducted for reporting on the killing of a senior Al Qaeda commander in the tribal area of North Waziristan; and Munir Ahmed Sangi, a cameraman for the Sindhi-language Kawaish Television Network (KTN).

According to CPJ, at least nine journalists have been killed for their work since January 2002. Only one case has been thoroughly investigated. During a CPJ mission to Pakistan in July 2006, officials promised to review investigative records and reveal government information on the deaths of the other journalists.

Visit these links:
- PPF:
- IFJ:
- CPJ:
- RSF:
- The Death of Hayatullah Khan:
- Internews Pakistan:



The Institute for Press and Society (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) have expressed alarm at proposed amendments to a law in Peru that gives the government powers to deny foreign funds to free expression groups and thousands of other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

On 2 November 2006, Peru's Congress passed, on second reading, amendments to Law 27692, under which the country's 3,174 NGO's must provide a list of their donors and projects to the Peruvian International Cooperation Agency (APCI). The agency has the power to deny foreign funds to NGOs it considers responsible for "disturbing public order" or "damaging property."

President Alan García Pérez has until 17 November to sign the law or send it back to Congress for further amendments. If he gives his assent to the proposed law, IPYS says it will file an appeal with the Constitutional Court on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional.

IPYS says if approved by the president, the law will seriously threaten freedom of expression and press freedom in Peru. It gives the government the power to monitor funds intended to promote free expression and investigative journalism in Latin America, a part of which comes from independent media in the United States and Europe, says IPYS. "This is an attempt to restrict NGOs' ability to channel [public] criticism of politicians."


1) Write to President Alan García Pérez urging him not to sign the law.

Send letters to: Presidencia de la República, Dr. Alan García Pérez - Presidente de la República, Despacho Presidencial, Plaza Mayor S/N Cercado de Lima, Peru; Tel: (511) 311 3900 / 311 4200; E-mail:

2) Ask international organisations to write to the President urging him not to sign the law.

3) Stay informed. Visit these links:
- RSF:
- International Center for Not-for-Profit Law:


In a legal battle that could have important implications for free expression in Argentina, a journalist facing civil defamation charges for accusing former armed forces and police officers of torture and murder during the "Dirty War" is receiving international support, thanks to the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) and eight other press freedom organisations.

On behalf of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations (CCPFO), WPFC is giving a Fund Against Censorship grant of US$20,400 to Mariano Saravia, a reporter for "La Voz del Interior" newspaper in Córdoba Province and the author of the book "La sombra azul" ("The Blue Shadow"). In his book, Saravia names former officers whom he alleges participated in the assassination, torture and disappearance of people opposed to the former military dictatorship in the 1970's and 1980's.

Saravia is being sued by a retired military officer and a former policeman for alleged defamation. If Saravia successfully defends his case, WPFC says his trial could become a landmark for press freedom in Argentina and in the region, where many countries are being forced to deal with unsolved human rights abuses committed by governments in past decades.

Saravia is being sued under Article 1089 of the Civil Code, a provision which should have been revoked as part of an agreement between the Argentine government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1999 to reform Argentina's defamation laws, WPFC notes. No such action has been taken since to reform the laws.

Saravia has received multiple threats since his book came out in March 2005. In July 2005, he found a dozen caliber-45 bullets carefully arranged in front of his home. A month later, a swastika was painted on the wall of his house. In October, Saravia found a dead bird hanging from his garage ceiling. In November, his home was broken into and his dog disappeared. He has also received anonymous threatening telephone calls at his home.

The Fund Against Censorship funds will be administered by the Foro de Periodismo Argentino (Argentine Journalists' Forum, FOPEA), which is also assisting other journalists under similar judicial harassment.

The Fund Against Censorship helps cover legal costs for journalists who are the target of judicial harassment and other forms of intimidation.

Grants are made by WPFC on behalf of the CCPFO, which includes five IFEX members: WPFC, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Press Institute, the Inter American Press Association, and the World Association of Newspapers.

Other members include the Commonwealth Press Union, the North American Broadcasters Association, the International Federation of the Periodical Press and the International Association of Broadcasting.

Visit these links:
- IFEX Alert on Saravia:
- CPJ:




Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are investigating the circumstances behind the killing of Ahmad al-Rashid, an Iraqi reporter who was shot and killed by gunmen in Baghdad's Al-Aathamiya neighbourhood on 3 November 2006.

Al-Rashid, 28, was a correspondent for the privately-owned Al-Sharqiya TV, where he had been working since September. According to CPJ, he was visiting family when he was stopped by gunmen, asked to exit his car, and shot.

RSF notes that last week, 50 police officers raided the Baghdad studios of Al-Sharqiya TV and threatened to close it down if it broadcast programmes about the recent conviction of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi security forces also raided the studios of two Sunni-owned satellite channels on 5 November following an order by the interior ministry to close the stations indefinitely, reported CPJ. The Iraqi government, led by Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Kamal Al-Maliki, accused Al-Zawraa TV in Baghdad and Saleheddin TV in Tikrit inciting sectarian violence in the hours after Saddam was sentenced to death.

Saleheddin TV, owned by Sunni businessmen Hassan Khatab and Abdelrahman Dahash, aired live broadcasts of pro-Saddam demonstrations and opened its phone lines for callers to express their opinions. Al-Zawraa is owned by Mishaan al-Jubouri, a Sunni legislator from the Liberation and Reconciliation Party.

Visit these links:
- CPJ:
- RSF:
- Iraq: Journalists in Danger:
- International News Safety Institute:




Reporters Without Borders invites free expression advocates to participate in an online protest against Internet censorship between 7 and 8 November 2006.

During the 24-hour online demonstration, visitors to the RSF website can go to a global map and register their protest by clicking on one of the 13 countries that have been labeled "enemies of the Internet". In most of these countries, individuals have been jailed by the government for expressing unpopular opinions online. Worldwide, more than 60 are serving time in prison, according to RSF.

Visitors can also record a message to Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang, expressing concern over the company's willingness to collaborate with Chinese authorities in censoring government critics, bloggers and journalists. Finally, visitors can create their own blog using RSF's subscription-based platform. Part of the sign-up fees go towards funding RSF's activities.





Hundreds of community broadcasters from around the world will be gathering in Amman, Jordan from 11 to 17 November 2006 to discuss the challenges facing community radio as part of the 9th World Conference and General Assembly of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

AmmanNet, the Jordanian FM broadcaster, is hosting the conference in partnership with media and journalists groups from Jordan and Palestine.

Members of AMARC will be meeting to discuss and analyse the state of community radio around the world and its impact on poverty reduction, and AMARC's effectiveness in relation to its mission and goals.

Members will also meet to elect a new International Board, adopt a strategic plan for 2006-2010, and issue joint declarations and resolutions on challenges facing the community radio movement.

For more information, visit:




Human Rights Watch is honouring activists from Iran, Mexico, Nepal, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe this year for their courage in exposing human rights abuses in their countries. The organisation is presenting its annual Human Rights Defenders Awards to six individuals who have shown dedication to the cause of human rights.

Omid Memarian is an Iranian journalist and blogger who is working to create a more open and democratic civil and political society in his country. Mexican activist Verónica Cruz fights for the right of rape victims to receive the safe abortions they are entitled to under Mexican law. In Nepal, Mandira Sharma exposes "disappearances" and indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Nepal.

Sudanese lawyer Salih Mahmoud Osman, who is from the Darfur region, has defended people arbitrarily detained and tortured by the Sudanese government for the past 20 years. Beatrice Were is a Ugandan activist who works to raise awareness of, and improve, the plight of women and children living with HIV/AIDS. Zimbabwean lawyer Arnold Tsunga
takes legal action against the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in his country.

The award winners are being feted in November at fundraising dinners in New York, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

For profiles of each award winner, visit:
- Omid Memarian:
- Verónica Cruz:
- Mandira Sharma:
- Salih Mahmoud Osman:
- Beatrice Were:
- Arnold Tsunga:


The Martin Ennals Foundation invites individuals or organisations working in the field of human rights to submit nominations for the 2007 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

The award, worth 20,000 Euros (US$25,400), is given annually to an individual or an organisation in recognition of their commitment to the defence and promotion of human rights. Special consideration is given to those who use courageous and innovative means to defend human rights and who are in need of protection.

The award winners are chosen by an international jury made up of 11 non-governmental organisations, including Human Rights Watch.

The deadline for submitting nominations is 9 December 2006.

To download a nomination form or obtain more information, visit: or write to:




The Caucasus Media Investigations Center (CMIC) is inviting journalists from Azerbaijan and Georgia to enter a competition aimed at encouraging better investigative reporting and promoting good governance.

Funded by the Azerbaijan office of the Open Society Institute, the contest takes place over a six-month period beginning in November 2006. Each month, awards will be given to the best investigative stories on a given topic.

The topic in November is "protecting the rights of children: fighting child labour and abuse." The first prize is worth US$200. There are two second prizes worth US$100 each, and three third prizes worth US$50 each. To be eligible, submitted stories should have already been broadcast or published in local media. Submissions should be in Azeri, English or Russian. The deadline to submit articles for the November topic is 15 December 2006. Award winners will be featured on CMIC's website.

Topics for subsequent months will include the role of media in combating corruption; human trafficking in the Caucasus; discrimination against the disabled; drug trafficking in the Caucasus; and gender discrimination.

The CMIC is a network of investigative reporters that aims to support joint investigations into human trafficking, narcotics and corruption; encourage better investigative reporting through award competitions and seminars; and act as a resource for foreign media.




The Columbia Journalism Review has published "Into the Abyss", an oral history of the war in Iraq as seen through the eyes of 50 journalists who covered what many consider the biggest story of our time. The web feature includes audio and photo galleries.


30 OCTOBER 2006
Pakistan - Missing newspaper journalist tortured during four-month detention by military intelligence, released; kidnapped television journalist still missing (RSF) - alert update
Somalia - One journalist freed, two others arrested in continued harassment by authorities in Baidoa (RSF) - (RSF) - alert update
Mexico - Cameraman killed, photographer wounded in Oaxaca police shooting; four suspects identified (RSF) - alert
Nepal - FNJ analyses media trends following restoration of democracy (FNJ) - capsule report
Mongolia - Journalists forcibly detained, one beaten and injured, camera broken by police during demonstration crackdown (Globe International) - alert
Cambodia - University professor fired, in prison for book; three people jailed for leaflets criticising PM; UNTAC law should be abolished, says SEAPA (SEAPA) - alert
Côte d'Ivoire/France - Demonstration held at Chocolate Exhibition in Paris draws attention to case of missing journalist Guy-André Kieffer (RSF) - alert update
Chad - Police hold journalist in custody for reporting on child soldiers in conflict zones (RSF) - alert

31 OCT 2006
Peru - Increased government control over NGO funding threatens freedom of expression, says IPYS (IPYS) - alert
Iraq - Body of abducted journalist Abdelmajid Isma'il Khalil discovered (CPJ) - alert
Iraq - Journalists fall victim to ethnic and sectarian violence; US troops carry out more unlawful arrests; TV station raided (RSF) - alert
Zimbabwe - Activist, persecuted for outspokenness, receives highest recognition from Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch) - alert update
Pakistan - Journalists barred from entering Bajaur district to cover controversial air strike (RSF) - alert
Democratic Republic of Congo - Radio station ransacked on election day, another threatened (RSF) - alert
Argentina - Journalist, sued for defamation over book on crimes of dictatorship, awarded WPFC anti-censorship grant (WPFC) - alert update
Saudi Arabia - Government gags women's rights activist, threatens her with job loss (Human Rights Watch) - alert
Syria - Journalist Michel Kilo, lawyer Anwar Bunni and other political prisoners go on hunger strike (RSF) - alert update

International - Al-Jazeera: a decade of paying the price for its outspokenness (RSF) - press release
China - Court decides not to hold any hearings when considering journalist Ching Cheong's appeal (RSF) - alert update
Nigeria - Information minister reprimands journalists, threatens sanctions over interviews with plane crash survivors (MRA) - alert
Algeria/Libya - In Algeria, two journalists sentenced to six months in prison for defaming Libyan president (RSF) - alert update
Burundi - Journalist released after five months of incarceration (JED) - alert update

Pakistan - Journalist wounded in shooting (RSF) - alert
Russia - Television journalist harassed, forced to delete footage, by security guards (CJES) - alert
Russia - State security agents question journalists over interview with oligarch living overseas (CJES) - alert
France - Journalist to be investigated in Clearstream case (RSF) - alert
Bangladesh - Photographer arrested and tortured, 15 other journalists attacked while covering protests (RSF) - alert
Brazil - IAPA condemns police official's questioning of three journalists who reported on police corruption (IAPA) - alert
Colombia - Pereira police demand journalist erase his photographs of police operation (FLIP) - alert
Pakistan - PPI Islamabad bureau chief Mohammad Ismail murdered (CPJ) - alert
Honduras - Court dismisses defamation complaint against two journalists (PROBIDAD) - alert update

Russia - Five television station crews briefly detained by Krasnoyarsk governor's security staff (CJES) - alert
Ghana - Journalists threatened while working (MFWA) - alert
Russia - An official assaults and threatens journalists reporting on poor local living conditions (CJES) - alert
Palestine - Radio presenter injured in latest attack on a Gaza radio station (RSF) - alert
Philippines - Still no word on missing radio host and environmentalist eight months after his abduction (RSF) - alert update
Israel/Palestine - Palestinian cameraman badly wounded by Israeli gunfire in the north of the Gaza strip (RSF) - alert
Mexico - Five journalists injured, two others roughed up, in clashes with federal police in Oaxaca; investigators of Brad Will's murder slipping up, says RSF (RSF) - alert update
Tunisia - OLPEC condemns defamation campaign against Al Jazeera (OLPEC) - alert
Nigeria - Media consultant harassed, faces criminal charges for obtaining classified documents relating to journalist's death (MRA) - alert update
Poland - Constitutional courts uphold defamation as a criminal offence: journalist Andrzej Marek could be sent back to prison (RSF) - 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 ( on behalf of the network's 72 member organisations.

The IFEX Communiqué is also available in French, Spanish, Russian ( and Arabic (

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.


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