Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bangladesh: ARTICLE 19 Fellow Receives Canadian Award for Excellence in Journalism

Bangladesh: ARTICLE 19 Fellow Receives Canadian Award
for Excellence in Journalism

Bangladeshi journalist and ARTICLE 19 Fellow Rafiqul Islam Montu has received the Canadian Award for Excellence in Journalism for his investigative article on coastal areas affected by climate change. The story was researched and produced as part of ARTICLE 19's Fellowship Programme for Bangladeshi journalists, implemented in partnership with Mass Line Media Centre.

Montu received the award on 23 February from Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni at a ceremony held at the National Press Club. Montu is one of six journalists that received the award in recognition of the high quality of his work, and for its potential to increase public awareness and public discourse on the impact of climate change in Bangladesh. The awardees were selected by an eminent panel of jurors which included climate change campaigners, journalists and environmentalists.

Montu’s research highlighted the impact of climate change at the community level, and included the increase in river erosion, changes in livelihood patterns, decreases in rice production and destruction of flora and fauna. His report was published in May 2009 in the daily Samakal.

Montu conducted his research into climate change in 2008 under an ARTICLE 19 fellowship programme, which was jointly implemented with the Mass Line Media Centre. The programme provides technical and financial support to selected journalists for them to work on issues relating to access to information. He now works as a senior correspondent for the national daily paper Kaler Kantha.

Commenting on the benefits of his fellowship, Montu says: “I was able to survey some of the most vulnerable parts of the country, including the districts of Noakhali, Patuakhali and Laxmipur. The ARTICLE 19 fellowship provided me with the opportunity to raise the voices of vulnerable communities and help face up to real life situations.”

the Rights of Women with the Right to Free Expression

International Women’s Day: ARTICLE 19 Affirms the Rights of Women with the Right to Free Expression

ARTICLE 19 joins the global community on International Women’s Day to celebrate the leadership and contribution of thousands of women around the world who strive for women’s equality and empowerment through their daily work.

ARTICLE 19 reaffirms the importance of gender equality as a key component of the right to freedom of expression. As ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Dr Agnes Callamard, states: “Women’s voices are all too often silent in the media and other public spaces. Women must be heard and must be able to receive information on issues that affect them. Women journalists, activists, community leaders and others must be allowed and encouraged to articulate their views and tell their stores. They must be able to engage freely in their work, without fear of censorship, harassment or violence.”

ARTICLE 19 here reflects the experiences of just a few women who have stood up for freedom of expression in some of the countries in which we work.



Lubna Hussein, a former journalist and United Nations employee, became a symbol of resistance to the oppression of women in her home country of Sudan in 2009, when she defied a ban on wearing trousers in public. She was one of several women arrested in a Khartoum restaurant last July and charged with violating “decency laws”. All the women were convicted and they all paid “admission of guilt” fines and received 10 lashes, except for Hussein who risked a worse flogging to challenge the charges.

The Sudanese Penal Code 1991 states that “whoever does in a public place an indecent act or wears an obscene outfit shall be punished with flogging which may not exceed forty lashes or with fine or with both.”

Hussein launched an email campaign inviting people to witness her flogging. The Sudanese Government offered to drop the charges if she would agree to stop wearing trousers. She refused and was imprisoned overnight, while a pro-government press agency paid her fine, possibly in order to avoid further embarrassment for the Government. Since then, Hussein has been writing actively and risked further punishment when she left the country to campaign for Muslim women’s rights in France earlier this year.
ARTICLE 19 has been working in Sudan for several years, lobbying for more effective press laws and for better human rights protection.


While Tunisia has made remarkable strides in its economic development in recent years, this has not been matched by a similar commitment to democracy and the promotion of human rights. The country has been considered a pioneer for having ratified international conventions protecting women’s rights and these were enshrined in the 1959 Constitution. However, these have not been adequately upheld during the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has been in power since 1987.

Sihem Bensadrine is a journalist and human rights activist who has been subjected to regular physical abuse, including beatings and torture, as well as slander by pro-government newspapers and websites which have called her a “prostitute” and “sexual pervert”. Together with Naziha Réjiba, she runs an independent online journal Kalima, which is censored in Tunisia, along with a radio station, Radio Kalima. Both women are under constant surveillance by police and their phones are monitored. This pattern of harassment has become significantly worse since the 2009 election of President Ben Ali for another term. The pro-government media has begun calling opposition journalists “agents of Israel” and calling for them to be lynched.

ARTICLE 19 is a member of the Tunisia Monitoring Group, which monitors human rights abuses and supports independent journalists, writers and activists in their fight against censorship and violations of freedom of expression.



Uma Singh was the first female journalist to be killed in Nepal: she was stabbed by as many as 15 men in her apartment in Janakpur on 11 January 2009. A radio journalist, Singh had broadcast and written material on themes relating to women’s rights, the caste system and the country’s political situation. While a number of individuals have been sporadically detained, her killers have never been identified or brought to justice.

In a 2008 interview with Republica, a Nepalese news and publishing house, Singh said:

“My name is Uma Singh. My home is in . I am currently working at Radio Today as a reporter and news reader. Working in the Tarai is fraught with problems. Organisations and groups constantly apply pressure on us. They say “broadcast this news, don’t broadcast that news.” They threaten us if we do not broadcast what they ask. Women journalists also face additional social pressure. Society’s views of women journalists matters a lot. Society does not accept us as equal to men. They say that journalistic work is not appropriate for women. On top of that, violent political groups are growing and have been a major challenge for us. We have been compelled to dance to their tunes. Yesterday there was a mainstream political event in Janakpur, but violent groups forced us instead to cover what they were doing and saying instead. This makes us helpless. What do we do? If we do not broadcast what they ask, they threaten to kill us and life becomes very very hard for us. We also have to balance our news rather than bow to their orders. We find ourselves in a really difficult situation. Working as a journalist is a really tough job.”

Nepal has seen an increase in violent attacks against media workers since the start of the Constitution-making process in 2006. ARTICLE 19 has participated in several international missions to Nepal in recent years and has been working to promote freedom of expression in the Nepalese Constitution.


Siti Musdah Mulia is a champion of Islamic and women’s rights, as chairperson of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace and professor of Islamic Studies at Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University in Jakarta.

In 2004, Mulia embarked on a project to revise Indonesia’s Islamic Code, which included a ban on polygamy and forced marriages, raising the legal of marriage for girls from 16 to 19 years, and demanding equal rights for husbands and wives. These proposed reforms caused such violent protests from conservative clerics that the Minister for Religious Affairs withdrew them from the parliamentary process.

Mulia has spoken widely on freedom of expression, especially with regard to the rights of women to access information and voice opinions. She is currently challenging the 1965 defamation of religion law, which is under review at the Constitutional Court. ARTICLE 19 is providing an amicus curiae in this case.

Indonesia has enjoyed positive development in democracy and civil liberties following the fall of President Suharto in 1998. However, in recent years, religious conservatism and national security concerns have threatened media pluralism, freedom of expression and human rights. The Indonesia Journalists Association (AJI) has identified press freedom as one of their three main concerns. Despite a relatively free press compared to other countries in the region, journalists, especially those covering environmental issues, still risk being stopped or even arrested. Journalists also face threats of protests and attacks by mobs and hard-line Islamic groups.
New legislation such as the controversial Anti-Pornography Bill and Electronic Information and Transaction Law (with up to six years’imprisonment for defamation on the internet), the enforcement of the 1965 Defamation of Religion Act, and the planned introduction of an internet censorship law, are all worrying signs that freedom of expression is under threat in Indonesia.



Natalia Estemirova, an award-winning human rights campaigner, was murdered by unknown assassins in July 2009. Estemirova worked for the Russian human rights group Memorial in Grozny, Chechnya, where she documented dozens of human rights violations.

Trained as a history teacher, Estemirova had begun reporting on human rights abuses and casualties during the Chechen War in 1999. She was also instrumental in helping foreign journalists access information and interviews in the region, and was a key figure in helping tell the story of the Chechen conflict around the world.

She was abducted in the morning of 15 July last year and taken away in a car. Her body was found later the same day, with bullet wounds, in neighbouring Ingushetia. Her killers have not been identified and nobody has been charged with her murder, despite an expression of outrage from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at the time.

In 2005, Estemirova was awarded the Robert Schuman medal by Members of the European Parliament, who voted her an “emblematic moral figure”. In 2007, she travelled to London to receive the inaugural Anna Politkovskaya award from the Reach all Women in War campaign. During an interview with the BBC at this time, she was asked whether she felt her life was in danger. She responded: "Sometimes I just can't even come to feeling that because I have such strong other feelings. I try to be very exact about how I go about things and of course I do have worries about my family and people close to me but I still have to do my work. Of course there are moments when I feel scared."

ARTICLE 19 works in the North Caucasus to promote freedom of expression and supports journalists and human rights defenders in their work reporting abuses.

Latin America


Thais Corral is an expert in social communications, recognised for her leadership on sustainability, environment and gender issues. She is the chairperson of ABDL (Brazilian Association for the Development of Leadership) and co-founder of CEMINA (Communication, Education and Information on Gender).

Throughout her professional life, Corral has been involved starting up organisations, which include WEDO (Women, Environment and Development Organisation), founded with American Member of Congress, Bella Abzug, and Nobel Laureate, Wangari Mathaai. WEDO plays a major role in the United Nations global system and lobbies for economic and social justice. Corral is also a founder member of REDEH (Rede de Desenvolvimento Humano), an organisation that works for the development of public policies on health, sexual and reproductive rights, education and environment. Amongst her accomplishments are the design and implementation of a project to empower women in water management carried out in Northeastern Brazil, selected in 2003 by the World Water Forum as a world best practice.

More recently, Corral conceived and implemented a women’s radio network which links 400 women’s radio programmes and their communities throughout Brazil. The network aims to encourage the use of community radio by women, as a means of airing their views especially in relation to women’s rights. The network empowers women community leaders to develop their own radio programmes.

This network subsequently gave birth to the Cyberelas project, which is a model for capacity-building that links radio and internet communications, facilitating access to communications tools and information exchange through telecentres located in under-resourced and poor areas. These train women in the use of technologies, software and radio, in order to advance awareness of sexual and reproductive rights. When the centres are not being used for radio production, they are open to local communities for free internet use.


Maria Esther Aguilar Casimbe, a crime reporter in Zamora for the local daily Cambio, in the central Mexican state of Michoacán, went missing on November 2009. She was last seen when she left home after receiving a phone call. She had been covering stories relating to local corruption and had recently exposed abuses by local authorities.

Michoacán is considered one of the most dangerous states for journalists in Mexico, owing to its high levels of violence, relating to drug trafficking and organised crime. Aguilar is the third journalist to have disappeared in this province and the first woman out of nine other journalists across the country who have disappeared without trace since 2000.

ARTICLE 19 runs a multi-faceted programme to address issues of safety for journalists in Mexico. This includes lobbying the Government to provide better protections for journalists and media workers, and to ensure that perpetrators of crimes against journalists are brought to justice. ARTICLE 19 also monitors and tracks attacks against journalists, and provides safety training for people working in this field.

Middle East


Shiva Nazar Ahari is an Iranian blogger, journalist, human rights defender and activist who has been in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Over the past six years, she has been arrested on several occasions under a variety of charges related to her intrepid interviews with international media and her critical blogging. She is a founding member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters.

In June 2009, the security forces searched her house and confiscated personal possessions. The next day she was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for 33 days. During this period, she was allowed only one phone call to her family. On 1 September, her family was informed that bail for her release had been set at USD 500,000, which was reduced to USD 200,000 on 16 September. Her family raised the money and Ahari was released on 23 September.

On 20 December 2009, Ahari was again arrested, along with a colleague, while on a bus from Tehran to Qom to attend the funeral of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, an influential cleric who had been critical of the Government. A prosecutor later informed her family that the Committee of Human Rights Reporters was affiliated with an armed opposition group, although she has not been charged or given access to a lawyer since her arrest. On 11 February, Ahari told her family by phone that she had been transferred to a cage-like solitary confinement cell where she cannot move her arms or legs. She added that she remains under pressure to accept accusations made against her, although the nature of these accusations is not clear.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most repressive countries in the world, with tight restrictions on all forms of mass communication, including the print and broadcast media, the publishing sector, the internet, and mobile and fixed line telephone networks. This stifling trend has worsened since the mass citizen protests that escalated following presidential elections in June 2009. Although the Government downplays the means it employs to curtail dissent, with official figures of 2,500 people arrested and up to 30 killed during this period, independent organisations believe the numbers are far greater. Journalists, activists and bloggers face unfair trials, torture and lengthy prison sentences for criminal offences such as mutiny and disruption of public order.

Russia: Journalist dies after being savagely assaulted by police

Journalist dies after being savagely assaulted by police

A Russian journalist was recently beaten to death in police custody, reports the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

Journalist Konstantin Popov was arrested on 4 January, in Tomsk, Siberia, and brutally assaulted. He was in a coma for two weeks and died in hospital on 20 January. He worked for the weekly newspaper "Tomskaya Nedelya".

"We call for an urgent investigation into this savage attack and for those responsible to face the full force of the law," said IFJ. "There have been failed prosecutions of journalists' murders in Russia because of ineffective investigations."

Russia was among the top five countries with the highest numbers of targeted killings of journalists in 2009, with six murders, reports IFJ.

China: Authorities ruthlessly censor independent reporting

Authorities ruthlessly censor independent reporting

Chinese security forces at a protest: just one of several incidents  Chinese journalists are regularly banned from reporting.
Chinese security forces at a protest: just one of several incidents Chinese journalists are regularly banned from reporting.
via Reuters

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has released a new report that highlights the arbitrary manner in which Chinese authorities forbid reporting on numerous issues, manipulating the flow of information. The Chinese media are routinely pummelled with restrictions, leaving very little room for independent news gathering.

The report, "China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009," provides a detailed account of media bans issued by central and provincial authorities, revealing how widespread and thorough censorship is in China. Several official bodies supervise the media, including the powerful Central Propaganda Department.

Reporting on corruption, political reform in Hong Kong and the details of the Xinjiang riots in which almost 200 were killed has been banned. In addition, authorities did not permit reporting on stories like the closure of a research centre run by human rights lawyers who provided assistance to minority groups. For coverage of the one-year anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, journalists were told they could only use state information and were not permitted to talk to survivors of the tragedy.

A local journalist told IFJ: "It has been a really difficult year for press freedom in China. Propaganda departments have issued bans on the media, one after another. Cases of journalists being beaten have been reported again and again. The environment for journalism is awful - this is particularly evident when looking at what information is published on the Internet."

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities closely watched massive demonstrations brought to life by social networking in Iran after the disputed June 2009 elections, says the report. Chinese journalists were told to cover the Iran protests "in a low-key way without commentary," and to limit the number of articles on the issue. In the face of the growing power of the Internet as a tool for mobilising dissent, the Chinese government introduced tighter controls for online content and greater surveillance of journalists. Websites and social networks have been shut down, and journalists and bloggers arrested. The state almost completely controls online news.

Foreign journalists faced many challenges as well, including destruction of work equipment and being barred from public spaces. The report outlines cases of foreign journalists being detained and Chinese assistants being punished for working with foreign media crews."Sources, potential interview subjects and Chinese assistants and drivers were especially targeted in actions to obstruct foreign media reporting on events in China," says the report. Hong Kong journalists reporting in Mainland China were also targeted for assault and arrest.

But the report also says that journalists do persevere in their reporting and ignore orders to not talk to a particular group of people or to not visit a specific village. And resilient netizens are finding ways to circumvent fire walls.

IFJ makes several recommendations, including: a call for the immediate release of imprisoned journalists, an end to the arbitrary detention, harassment and intimidation of local journalists and their assistants and sources, as well as freedom of movement for journalists to report in all areas of China.

China Clings to Control: Press Freedom in 2009

Vedanta Mining Violates Rights of Indigenous People in Orissa,

SVAW - UN Agency (en)
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Vedanta Mining Violates Rights of Indigenous People in Orissa, India.

Plans by Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa threaten the very existence of the Donghria Kondh – an indigenous community that has lived on and around the hills for centuries.

The proposed mine could have grave repercussions for their human rights to water, food, health, work and other rights as an indigenous community in respect of their traditional lands.

Vedanta’s Record

At the foot of the Niyamgiri Hills, in Lanjigarh, Vedanta Resources has already started running an alumina refinery leading to significant air and water pollution. This pollution is threatening the health and well-being of the indigenous community. Although the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) has reported serious concerns about toxic air and water contamination, this information has never been shared with local people. Despite the existing problems and widespread community concerns, there is now an attempt to expand the refinery’s capacity six-fold.

Take Action to Protect Indigenous People in Orissa, India.

Vedanta Resources and its subsidiaries – responsible for the refinery and the proposed mine – have failed to abide by internationally accepted standards in relation to the impact of business on human rights. The Governments of Orissa and India have also failed to protect the human rights of this community.

You can do something to protect this indigenous community by signing the petition to the Government of India.

Take action Now

If you are in India please pick up your mobile phone and SMS ‘AMNESTY STOPVEDANTA’ to 56677. Your petition will be sent to the Indian government.

Thanks for your continued support and commitment to human rights.

Alaphia, Buddha, Jeremy and Jennifer
Online Communities Team

Amnesty International

International Secretariat 1 Easton Street
London, xLON WC1X 0DW
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वेदान्ता खनन उड़ीसा के लोगो के अधिकारों का हनन कर रहा है


वेदान्ता रिसोरसिस के नियमगिरि हिल्स उड़ीसा में बॉक्साइट खान बनाने की योजना एक समुदाय- ड़ोंघ्रिया कोंध, जो की वहाँ सदियों से रह रही है, के अस्तित्व के लिए बहुत बड़ा खतरा है।

प्रस्तावित खान इन के पानी, खान पान, स्वास्थ्य,रोज़गार से जुड़े मानवाधिकारों के अलावा एक समुदाय होने के नाते इनके पारम्परिक भूमि से सम्बंधित अधिकारों पर भी गंभीर असर डाल सकती हैं।

Stop mining and refinery projects from devastating communities in  India

वेदान्ता का अभिलेख

लंजिगढ़ में नियमगिरि पहाड़ो के चरण पर वेदान्ता ने पहले से अल्युमिना रिफाइनरी शुरू कर दी है जिसके फलस्वरूप व्यापक वायु और जल प्रदूषण हो रहा है।यह प्रदूषण इस समुदाय के स्वास्थ्य और भलाई के लिए बहुत बड़ा खतरा बन रहा है।हालाँकि उड़ीसा राज्य प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड ने विषाक्त जल और वायु के बारे में गंभीर चिंता व्यक्त की है पर इस जानकारी को स्थानीय लोगो के साथ बाँटा नहीं गय ा है।मौजूदा समस्याओं और व्यापक समुदाय चिंता के बावजूद अब रिफाइनरी की क्षमता को छह गुना बढाने का प्रयास किया जा रहा है।

लोगो को बचाने के लिए कार्यवाही कीजिये

रिफाइनरी और प्रस्तावित खान के लिए ज़िम्मेदार वेदान्ता रिसोर्सिस और उसके सहायक, अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्वीकृत मानको, जो की व्यापार का मानवाधिकारों पर प्रभाव से जुड़े हुए है, का पालन करने में विफल रहे है।उड़ीसा और भारत सरकार भी इस समुदाय के मानवाधिकारों को बचाने में नाकामयाब रहे है।

आप भारत सरकार को संबोधित अर्जी (पेटीशन) को साईंन करके इस समुदाय के अधिकारों को बचाने के लिए कुछ कर सकते है।

Take action Now

अगर आप भारत में है तो अपना मोबाईल फोन उठाइए और ' ‘56677’ पर SMS कीजिये 'AMNESTY STOPVEDANTA'.

आपके अविच्छिन्नित समर्थन और मानवाधिकारों के प्रति वचनबद्धता के लिए धन्यवाद।

अलाफिया, बुद्धा, जेनिफर
जेनिफर बिलेक सुलिवन

International: Special Rapporteurs Define Ten Key Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the Next Decade

Special Rapporteurs Define Ten Key Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the Next Decade

Ugandan journalists were recently hit with criminal libel charges  as a result of an opinion piece critical of President Museveni: one of  several major press violation trends journalists face worldwide, say  free expression rapporteurs.
Ugandan journalists were recently hit with criminal libel charges as a result of an opinion piece critical of President Museveni: one of several major press violation trends journalists face worldwide, say free expression rapporteurs.
via CPJ

To mark their tenth year of collaboration, the four rapporteurs on free expression issued a joint declaration last week outlining the ten main challenges to free expression in the next decade. The initiative was organised by ARTICLE 19 and the Centre for Law and Democracy.

The statement emphasises the critical role of freedom of expression, including diversity and pluralism, as an "essential tool" to defend other rights and "as a core element of democracy." It also acknowledges the tremendous power of the Internet as a mechanism for "realising the right to freedom of expression and information."

One key point made by the rapporteurs is that women, minorities, refugees, indigenous peoples and sexual minorities continue to struggle to have their voices heard and to access information that would empower them. The underrepresentation of disadvantaged groups within the media environment and insufficient coverage by the media of issues relevant to minority groups are obstacles to freedom of expression.

Another far-reaching issue is state interference in the media. This influence includes political manipulation of public media so that it becomes a state mouthpiece, registration requirements for print media or Internet access, and government control over licensing or regulation of broadcasters.

Criminal defamation continues to be a major impediment to free speech, say the rapporteurs. Most countries have laws that make it a crime to defame, insult, slander or libel someone or something, and only about 10 countries have fully decriminalised defamation. The rapporteurs are concerned by the "failure of many laws to require the plaintiff to prove key elements of the offence, such as falsity and malice" and laws that penalise true statements, accurate reporting or statements of opinion. Journalists face severe prison sentences, loss of civil rights and excessive fines as a result of repressive laws.

The rapporteurs bring attention to the commercial pressures that shape the media's ability to disseminate information. Increasing concentration of media ownership can have a great effect on content diversity. Also, the "fracturing of the advertising market" can lead to "cost-cutting measures such as less local content" and "a decrease in investigative journalism."

Violence against journalists is an ongoing threat, with "more politically motivated killings of journalists in 2009 than in any other year in the past decade." Other issues covered by the rapporteurs include: limits on the right to information, public funding support for public broadcasters, the idea of national security distorted and used to impose restrictions on free expression, blocking of websites and web domains. The rapporteurs also point to the fact that the majority of the world's population does not have access to the Internet, with the poor and those in remote, rural communities unable to access information relevant to their lives.

The four special mandates on freedom of expression are Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Miklos Haraszti, the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Catalina Botero, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression for the Organisation of American States; and Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information for the African Commission on Human and People's Rights.


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Pakistan: Reporter killed

A Pakistani journalist who reported on feuds between local groups was gunned down in Sindh province on 17 February, report the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Ashiq Ali Mangi, a reporter for the privately owned television channel Mehran TV, was shot dead on his motorcycle on his way to the Khairpur Press Club, in Gambat, north of Karachi.

The next day, local journalists walked out of the National Assembly and Senate proceedings in the capital, Islamabad, to protest the murder. According to the IFJ, immediately after, the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting acknowledged the government's failure to arrest the suspected killers of two other journalists killed in 2009. And he guaranteed that Sindh authorities would carry out a complete investigation of Mangi's murder.

Sources told RSF that Mangi's murder could have been ordered by a former police officer whose alleged connections with criminal groups had been revealed by the journalist.

"Police in Sindh must act quickly to investigate this killing and ascertain whether Ashiq Ali Mangi was killed for his work," said CPJ. "Pakistan badly needs to reassure its journalists that it will address the climate of impunity for those who kill their colleagues."

In another part of the country, authorities in the Swat region ordered a curfew early on 18 February to prevent media personnel from meeting at the Swat Press Club in order to mark the one-year anniversary of murdered journalist Musa Khan Khel. IFJ reports that Khel was abducted and his bullet-riddled body was eventually found. The curfew was lifted in the afternoon.

Nepal: Media publisher slain; editors threatened

Media publisher slain; editors threatened

Nepali journalists are regularly threatened and intimidated.
Nepali journalists are regularly threatened and intimidated.
via CPJ

A Nepali publisher and chairman of a media organisation was shot and killed on 1 March, report the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Journalists and editors continue to face intimidation and threats despite the state's commitments to press freedom and journalist's safety, says the International Press Institute (IPI).

Arun Singhaniya, publisher of "Janakpur Today" and chairman of the Today Group, was murdered by a man riding on the back of a motorcycle, in Shiva Chowk Janakpur, Dhanusha District.

Singhaniya's murder, which comes less than a month after media entrepreneur Jamim Shah was killed in Kathmandu, points to the government's failure to provide security for journalists and media workers. FNJ organised a protest rally on 3 March.

Last month, the chairman and editors of two Nepali newspapers received threats because of their coverage of the murder of media owner Jamin Shah on 7 February, according to IPI.

On 12 February, the chairman and managing director of Kantipur Publications, Kailash Sirohiya, received an email message telling him to stop reporting on Shah's murder or face reprisals. On 11 and 12 February, "Kathmandu Post" editor Akhilesh Upadhyay and "Kantipur" editor Sudheer Sharma received threats over the telephone. Upadhyay's caller said: "Shut up or we will make you shut up."

Angola: War on separatists used as cover to imprison rights defenders and harass journalists

War on separatists used as cover to imprison rights defenders and harass journalists

Angolan human rights defenders are being imprisoned and journalists  harassed under the guise of national security.
Angolan human rights defenders are being imprisoned and journalists harassed under the guise of national security.
via CPJ

The Angolan government is targeting human rights defenders with intimidation, harassment and detention, says Human Rights Watch. The lethal attack on Togolese football players by Angolan separatist rebels in January was also used as an excuse to round up critics of the government. At least eight activists have been arrested since the attack and journalists have been threatened.

Gunmen opened fire on Togo's national football team, which came to the country to compete in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, in Angola's oil-rich enclave of Cabinda on 8 January. Two people were killed, including a Togolese journalist, and nine others were injured. Angolan authorities are now citing "state security crimes" as the reason for the arrests of human rights defenders.

Police arrested the first rights activist early morning on 8 January, before the Togolese footballers were attacked later in the day. Three individuals arrested in mid-January, Belchior Lanso Tati, Francisco Luemba and Raul Tati, are all prominent Cabindan intellectuals and human rights defenders who are outspoken critics of the government.

The three rights defenders were once part of a civic association that issued several human rights reports on Cabinda and facilitated peace negotiations between the separatist guerrillas and the government.

Meanwhile, a journalist received a warning from Angolan security officials on 20 January, saying his life was at risk because the authorities saw him as a "dangerous person" who has "damaged Angola's image" by reporting on politically sensitive issues. And another journalist, former Voice of America correspondent in Cabinda, Fernando Lelo, said individuals purporting to be Angolan intelligence officials warned him he may soon be charged for alleged arms sales to rebels. Lelo had already spent almost two years in prison for "security crimes," and was originally sentenced to 12 years before his conviction was quashed in 2009 by a military court.

In December 2009, Angolan authorities began to arbitrarily arrest and intimidate independent journalists in the lead up to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. Journalists who work for state-run media frequently practise self-censorship.

International: Olympic Games should not override right to free expression

Olympic Games should not override right to free expression

Repression of free speech is a backdrop to every Olympic Games.
Repression of free speech is a backdrop to every Olympic Games.
via CPJ
Violations of free expression were recorded surrounding the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada, report Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). So as the world looks to the next Winter Olympics in 2014, in Sochi, Russia, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are examining the local media's lack of financial independence and powerlessness in the face of the Kremlin.

Canadian authorities interrogated and denied entry to two U.S. journalists. John Weston Osburn, a Salt Lake City freelance journalist associated with the news organisation IndyMedia was interrogated by Canadian border authorities near Vancouver on 10 February and turned away because of a past conviction for a misdemeanour. After being refused entry a second time, Osburn was detained and questioned by U.S. authorities.

On 6 February, journalist Martin Macias Jr., a contributor to Vocalo, an online news outlet and affiliate of Chicago Public Radio, was detained, interrogated and then put on a plane to Seattle by Canadian authorities. Macias intended to attend a press conference by the Olympic Resistance Network, a group critical of the games. "They wanted to know what I was going to do in Vancouver, who I was meeting with, who organised the conference, and what they looked like. They took all my contact information and business cards of journalists," said Macias. According to CJFE, Macias was told to leave Canada voluntarily or face detention until trial a week later.

"The Olympics should be a showcase for our belief in free speech, not an example of its repression," said CJFE Board member and journalist Kelly Toughill. CJFE launched an "Olympic Watch" in January in response to several incidents where free expression came under threat in relation to the Olympics.

Four years from now, Russia will be hosting the Winter Games in Sochi on the Black Sea. Political influence on the media is intense in the Krasnodar region, where the town of Sochi is located. Local media were already pressured during the bid for the Games to ignore environmental concerns and protests by residents facing eviction, reports RSF. And during previous elections, most media outlets ignored the opposition. Dissident journalists are often hit with libel fines for reporting on controversial stories.

Last summer, RSF carried out a detailed field investigation into the media environment in seven Russian regions, including Krasnodar. The province's media are controlled by its pro-Kremlin governor with a system set up to "regulate and subordinate" journalists and editors. In order to have advertising revenue and tax concessions, privately owned newspapers must publish content provided by authorities and permit editorial interference. The local edition of the independent "Novaya Gazeta" ("Kubani") fights a daily financial battle to survive.

Human Rights Watch is also concerned about possible rights violations at the Sochi Winter Games, with so many human rights defenders and journalists killed in 2009 in Russia. "These targeted attacks on outspoken critics of the Russian government all point to a disturbing climate of violence and impunity in the Caucasus region, where the Sochi Games will take place.... It is hard to imagine the Sochi 2014 Olympics taking place as a festive sporting event in a climate of the most brutal violence and fear for civil society actors, and journalists."