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 World News Censorship

   2013: April-June

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  Algeria...

Algerian government blocks newspaper stories about failing health of president...
Link Here 20th May

Algeria The Algerian government has blocked the publication of two newspapers.

Hicham Aboud, editor of the My Journal and Djaridati newspapers, said that happened after he rejected an order from the Communication Ministry on Saturday night to remove an article from the papers that claimed hospitalized President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had slipped into a coma.

Aboud said the articles were quoting credible medical sources.

Officials have repeatedly said that the president is recovering well and will soon return to Algeria.

 


  Azerbaijan...

Offsite Article: Azerbaijan's Facebook Fight...
Link Here 9th April
Azerbaijan flag In the run up to the presidential elections, there have been increased attacks on free expression in Azerbaijan. And social media has become a new target for the country's authorities, says Idrak Abbasov

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

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  Burma...

Update: Daily Improvement...Private newspapers return to Burma
Link Here 1st April  full story: Press Censorship in Burma...World leaders in oppressive censorship

thamaga journalPrivate daily newspapers are being sold in Burma for the first time in almost 50 years. Sixteen papers have so far been granted licences, although only four have started on the first day of the new regulatory regime.

This is another important milestone on Burma's journey away from authoritarian rule, the BBC's Jonathan Head reported from the commercial capital, Rangoon.

 


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  Burundi...

Freedom of speech under duress in Burundi as repressive censorship bill looks set to become law...
Link Here 11th May

Burundi flag A new press law that would severely limit the activities of journalists in Burundi poses a grave threat to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

The draft law, which includes new press-related crimes and exorbitant fines for journalists who violate them, looks set to be signed off by Burundi's President after it was adopted by the country's Senate earlier this month.

The proposal restricts the right to report on anything relating to state and public security, as well as information that threatens the economy or insults the President .

Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Africa Director said:

Freedom of expression in Burundi is gravely under threat from this repressive law, which has great potential to be abused and places journalists at the mercy of the authorities. President Pierre Nkurunziza must reject the draft, and ensure that journalists are able to carry out their legitimate work freely and without the threat of legal action.

The draft press law, in its latest form, could make journalists criminally liable for carrying out their work, and creates numerous new requirements for them to follow. Failure to do so could lead to fines as high as 6,000,000 Burundian francs (about US $3,760), which most media outlets would be unable to afford.

 


  Cameroon...

Update: Cameroon closes another radio station...
Link Here 22nd June

radio flashThe Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the closure of an independent radio station on April 22 in retaliation for its broadcast of an interview that authorities said incited secessionism.

Local officials in the northwestern city of Bamenda indefinitely shut down the studios of private station Foundation Radio , local journalists and news reports said. The injunction, which was signed by Felix Nguele Nguele, the top official in Bamenda, and originated from the Cameroonian minister of communications, ordered the station to be shut down because of its repeated broadcasts that incited secessionism, according to CPJ's review of the document.

News accounts reported that the station was shut down in reprisal for its March 25 morning talk show, called Good Morning Bamenda Show, in which the host, Tikum Mbah Azonga , interviewed two guests from the outlawed Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), which calls for the secession of the English-speaking northwest and southwest provinces from the French-speaking remainder of Cameroon.

News Censorship...Cameroon bans 2 TV programmes and 3 radio programmes
Link Here 4th April

Cameroon flagIn a wave of censorship, Cameroon has indefinitely banned two TV programs for what regulators considered violent content and another three radio programs on vague charges of ethics violations, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the move, which also includes the suspension of at least seven journalists.

CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita said:

These programs put a spotlight on the serious problems affecting Cameroonian citizens, including crime, injustice, and corruption. The government has tried to disguise its actions as a matter of ethics, but everyone can see it for the censorship that it is. We call on authorities to drop these censorship orders immediately and to halt their continuing campaign to silence critical news and opinion.

The National Communications Council announced the censorship orders via a press statement. The council accused the TV programs of showing extensive segments of violent and indecent images, which it said violated government regulations. The stations had aired programs in March that focused on gruesome murders in the country, according to news reports.

The council banned Canal 2tective, a monthly investigative program on independent broadcaster Canal 2 International, and suspended its presenter, Ruben Malick Djoumbissie', from broadcasting for three months. The council also banned the weekly IPP News on the private broadcaster LTM TV, and suspended its presenter, Josh Zela Amadou, better known as Awilo, from broadcasting for six months.

 


  China...

Update: Foreign to Free Speech...Chinese news censors ban the reporting of information from foreign news sources
Link Here 18th April  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

sarft logoReporters Without Borders has condemned the draconian directive that China's news censor, the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, issued yesterday banning the Chinese media from using unauthorized information from foreign media and websites. Reporters Without Borders said:

The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China's leaders. The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.

The international media continue to play a key role both in informing the international community about what is happening in China, and in informing the Chinese public, which is the victim of the government's growing censorship of the local media.

According to the directive:

All kinds of media work units may not use any unauthorized news products provided by the foreign media or foreign websites. They are also forbidden to use information provided by news informants, freelancers, NGOs or commercial organisations without prior verification.

 


  Congo...

Congo bans 4 newspapers for 2-4 months...
Link Here 4th June

Republic of Congo flagReporters Without Borders condemns a decision on 1 June by the High Council for Freedom of Communication (CLSC), the Republic of Congo's media regulator, to suspend three independent Brazzaville-based newspapers, L'Observateur , Talassa and Le Trottoir , for four months for publishing seditious articles. A fourth, Le Glaive , has been suspended for two months.

Reporters Without Borders said:

The simultaneous suspension of four newspapers that are well-known for keeping their distance from the government is particularly disturbing for pluralism in the Republic of Congo.

After keeping a low profile for a long time, the CSLC now seems to be focusing on censorship and intimidation instead of doing its job, which is to guarantee freedom of communication. Philippe Mwouo's takeover as head of the CSLC has coincided with a decline in freedom of expression. We call for these arbitrary suspensions to be lifted immediately.

The four newspapers were suspended on Mwouo's direct orders for reprinting an article from the pan-African magazine Afrique Education that referred to a letter by former defence minister Justin Lekoundzou about President Marien Ngouabi's 1977 assassination.

 


  Ecuador...

Superintendency of News...Ecuador's parliament passes law establishing news censorship
Link Here 15th June

Ecuador flagPresident Rafael Correa of Ecuador won re-election this year, and for the first time captured a majority in the National Assembly, he vowed to push forward with major proposals that had been stalled in his earlier terms. On Friday he gained a victory that he had long coveted when the Legislature passed a new law for censorship of news media.

The law passed easily without debate. It is packed with controversial measures. The law creates a Superintendency of Information and Communication, with the power to regulate the news media, investigate possible violations and impose potentially hefty fines. It creates a five-member Council for the Regulation and Development of Information and Communication, led by a representative of the president, to oversee the news media.

The law prohibits "media lynching," which it defines as the repeated publication or broadcast of information intended to smear a person's reputation or reduce one's credibility. And it bans content that incites violence or promotes racial or religious hatred.

Carlos Lauría of the Committee to Protect Journalists said the wording of such measures was vague enough that it left ample room to define a variety of content as being in violation of the law, opening the door to censorship:

This is the latest step in the deterioration of press freedom in this country that has occurred under Correa. This law, if it's put into practice, is not only going to undermine the ability of journalists to report critically, but it also threatens the rights of citizens to be informed on issues like corruption or other sensitive issues.

 


  Egypt...

Bloggers arrested over claims that they were responsible for protests...
Link Here 11th May  full story: Blogging in Egypt...Heavy handed Egyptian authorities jail bloggers

Egypt flag A prominent Egyptian blogger has handed himself in to authorities, a day after the country's prosecutor general ordered his arrest along with four others for allegedly instigating violence with comments posted on social media.

The charges stem from clashes between supporters and opponents of the country's Islamist president last week that left 200 injured.

Activists say the accusations against the blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah may herald a wave of arrests of opposition leaders. They closely follow an angry televised warning by the president, Mohamed Morsi, that he would soon take exceptional measures in the face of violence.

Abdel-Fattah, wearing a prison jumpsuit to show his readiness to face jail, arrived at the Cairo office of the prosecutor general, Talaat Abdullah, surrounded by dozens of protesters chanting slogans denouncing Morsi's and his group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

 


  Guinea...

Guinea bans radio channel for 1 month...
Link Here 5th June

Guinea flagReporters Without Borders urges the National Communication Council (CNC), Guinea's media regulator, to immediately rescind the outrageous order it issued on 30 May suspending Radio Planete FM and one of its programme hosts, Mandian Sidibe, for a month.

Reporters Without Borders said:

No current legislation allows the CNC to issue this order. It is based on a 1991 press law that was rendered null and void by Organic Laws 002 and 003, which Gen. Sekouba Konate promulgated on 22 June 2010, during the transition. In other words, the CNC has acted outside the law.

Furthermore, the CNC has given vague and general reasons, without specifying which comments by Sidibe and which broadcasts caused offence, and instead of just punishing him, it has suspended the entire radio station, putting all of its employees out of work for the duration of the sanction and depriving the Guinean public of a source of news and information.

 


  International...

Freedom of the Press 2013...Freedom House reports that media freedom is at a low ebb
Link Here 2nd May

freedom of the press 2013 The percentage of the world's population living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to a Freedom House report. An overall downturn in global media freedom in 2012 was punctuated by dramatic decline in Mali, deterioration in Greece, and a further tightening of controls in Latin America. Moreover, conditions remained uneven in the Middle East and North Africa, with Tunisia and Libya largely retaining gains from 2011 even as Egypt experienced significant backsliding.

The report, Freedom of the Press 2013 , found that despite positive developments in Burma, the Caucasus, parts of West Africa, and elsewhere, the dominant trend was one of setbacks in a range of political settings. Reasons for decline included the increasingly sophisticated repression of independent journalism and new media by authoritarian regimes; the ripple effects of the European economic crisis and longer-term challenges to the financial sustainability of print media; and ongoing threats from nonstate actors such as radical Islamists and organized crime groups.

David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House, said:

Two years after the uprisings in the Middle East, we continue to see heightened efforts by authoritarian governments around the world to put a stranglehold on open political dialogue, both online and offline. The overall decline is also a disturbing indicator of the state of democracy globally and underlines the critical need for vigilance in promoting and protecting independent journalism.

Worrying deterioration was noted in Ecuador, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, and Thailand--which were all downgraded to the Not Free category--as well as in Cambodia, Kazakhstan, and the Maldives. Meanwhile, Mali suffered the index's largest single-year decline in a decade due to a coup and the takeover of the northern half of the country by Islamist militants, and media in Greece came under a range of pressures as a result of the European economic crisis. The score declines in those two countries triggered a status change to Partly Free, as did a smaller negative shift in Israel.

Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2012, a total of 63 (32%) were rated Free, 70 (36%) were rated Partly Free, and 64 (32%) were rated Not Free. The analysis found that less than 14 percent of the world's inhabitants lived in countries with a Free press, while 43% had a Partly Free press and 43% lived in Not Free environments.

The world's eight worst-rated countries are Belarus, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In these states, independent media are either nonexistent or barely able to operate, the press acts as a mouthpiece for the regime, citizens' access to unbiased information is severely limited, and dissent is crushed through imprisonment, torture, and other forms of repression.

Key Regional Findings:

The Americas: The region experienced a decline in press freedom in 2012, with Ecuador and Paraguay falling into the Not Free category and erosion also noted in Argentina and Brazil. The media environment remained extremely restrictive in Cuba and Venezuela, and Mexico continued to be one of world's most dangerous places for journalists, with high levels of violence and impunity for crimes against media workers, though positive legislation to address this issue was passed in 2012. The United States is still among the stronger performers in the region, but the limited willingness of high-level government officials to provide access and information to members of the press was noted as a concern.

Asia-Pacific: This region is home to one of the world's worst-rated countries, North Korea, and the world's largest Not Free setting, China. However, the regional average score improved in 2012. Burma earned the year's largest numerical improvement worldwide due to broad openings in the media environment, and Afghanistan also registered gains. Less positively, Thailand moved back into the Not Free category, and deterioration was noted in Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Central and Eastern Europe/Eurasia: A modest overall reduction in press freedom occurred in this region during 2012, with deterioration in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan offset by improvements in Armenia and Georgia. Restrictive conditions persist in Russia, where the relatively unfettered new media, which have somewhat mitigated the government's near-complete control over major broadcast outlets, faced the threat of further curbs during the year. Hungary's score remained steady amid ongoing concerns regarding extensive legislative and regulatory changes that have tightened government control of the media.

Middle East and North Africa: This region's level of media freedom remained the worst in the world in 2012, and stasis or backsliding was noted in the vast majority of countries, with the exception of Yemen. While two of the Arab Spring countries, Libya and Tunisia, largely retained their significant gains from the previous year, Egypt moved back into the Not Free category. On the Arabian Peninsula, deterioration was noted in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Israel, an outlier in the region due to its traditionally free and diverse press, nevertheless experienced several challenges during 2012, resulting in a status downgrade to Partly Free.

Sub-Saharan Africa: The region suffered a modest decline in press freedom in 2012, largely as a result of the losses in Mali, now rated Partly Free, and Guinea-Bissau, which slid into the Not Free category. However, trends elsewhere on the continent were positive, with significant improvements for Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi and smaller positive moves for Liberia, Mauritania, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. South Africa's score deteriorated slightly due to de facto restrictions on media coverage of wildcat mining strikes in August and September, and the advancement of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill remained an issue of concern.

Western Europe: The region has consistently boasted the highest level of press freedom worldwide, but its average score underwent an unprecedented decline in 2012. Conditions for the press in Greece deteriorated significantly, moving the country into the Partly Free category, while lesser slippage was noted in Spain, also as a result of the European economic crisis. Turkey, a regional outlier, continued to elicit concern due to its high number of imprisoned journalists.

 


  Iran...

Update: Iran bans the Iran newspaper...
Link Here 3rd June  full story: Press Freedom in Iran...As if there were any

iran newspaper logoAn Iranian court has imposed a six-month publishing ban on a state-owned newspaper for its allegedly false reporting.

The IRAN newspaper is under the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and is seen to express views close to his.

The agencies did not say which report triggered the ban.

Reforming Iran...Iran arrests journalists and bans newspapers
Link Here 28th April

maghrebThe Iranian authorities have arrested two journalists and banned three reformist publications, reports the Associated Press.

Police detained two executives working for the reformist daily title, Maghreb and the political editor Ali Reza Aghaeirad .

Their arrests were linked to last month's publication of an article that criticised the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Politician Ali Motahari also said that the prosecutor's office has banned three reformist periodicals, the monthlies Mehrnameh and Tajrobeh , and the weekly Asseman .

 


  Iraq...

Blaming News...Iraq bans Al-Jazeera news channel seemingly blaming it for recent sectarian violence
Link Here 29th April

Al Jazeera logoThe Iraqi authorities have announced that they had revoked the operating licences of the broadcaster al-Jazeera and nine other satellite TV channels, claiming that they are promoting a sectarian agenda.

The move comes as Baghdad tries to quell rising unrest in the country after clashes at a protest camp last week. More than 180 people have been killed in gun battles since the unrest began on Tuesday. The violence follows previously peaceful protests by Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority against the Shia-dominated government.

Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, said:

We cover all sides of the stories in Iraq, and have done for many years. The fact that so many channels have been hit all at once though suggests this is an indiscriminate decision. We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the important stories taking place in Iraq.

The other nine channels whose licences were suspended by Iraq's communications and media commission are al-Sharqiya, al-Sharqiya News, Salahuddin, Fallujah, Taghyeer, Baghdad, Babiliya, Anwar 2 and al-Gharbiya. Iraq's media commission accused the stations of misleading and exaggerated reports, as well as of airing clear calls for disorder and for launching retaliatory criminal attacks against security forces . It also blamed the stations for promoting banned terrorist organisations who committed crimes against Iraqi people .

 


  Kuwait...

Update: Dangerous Opnion...Kuwaiti tweeter sentenced to 2 years hard labour for supposedly insulting the Emir
Link Here 5th April

Kuwait flagOn March 31, Hamad Al Khalidi was sentenced to two years in prison by a Kuwaiti lower court for insulting the Emir of Kuwait on Twitter. He has already begun serving his sentence, though his attorneys plan to file an appeal on April 8.

Al Khalidi personally announced the sentence via Twitter:

Because of my opinions I'm sentenced to two years imprisonment with forced labour!

Al Khalidi is one of dozens of opposition activists and former MPs who have either been sentenced to various jail terms or are on trial on similar charges...More than a dozen youth activists and former MPs have so far been handed down jail terms following a clamp-down on opposition social network users and activists. Criticising the emir is illegal in Kuwait and is considered to be an offence against state security.

 


  Somaliland...

Somaliland bans daily newspaper, Hubaal, indefinitely...
Link Here 13th June

Somaliland flagThe acting attorney general in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland should withdraw his request to suspend the independent daily Hubaal , the Committee to Protect Journalists said. A court ruled that the paper had been indefinitely suspended at the request of Aden Ahmed Mouse, according to news reports.

CPJEast Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said:

Somaliland authorities often ignore their own legal system to censor the press, whether it is arbitrary detentions of journalists or, in this case, an arbitrary suspension order. If the authorities are serious about their desire for self-determination, then a functional justice system must be in place. The government must stop misusing its authority to censor critical news coverage. Aden Ahmed Mouse should withdraw his request for the suspension and allow Hubaal to resume publishing.

The court said that the paper had been suspended at the request of Aden, the acting attorney general, reports said . The reports did not offer further details.

Journalists at Hubaal said they suspected the suspension was a result of their ongoing coverage of a construction dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia. Both countries are vying for political support from Somaliland, a close ally and strategic trading partner to landlocked Ethiopia, local journalists said. The sources said they suspected authorities feared any media coverage that could tarnish their relationship with Ethiopia.

 


  Sudan...

Update: Sudan ban newspaper al-Midan and temporarily al-Intibaha...
Link Here 3rd June  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

al midan logoSudan police have banned the newspaper of the opposition Communist party, al-Midan.  Editor Madiha Abdella said:

The security services have issued a publication ban by ordering our printing and distribution firms to stop dealing with us. This is the end of the printed newspaper.

Al-Midan was one of the few papers still daring to attack President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has faced small protests over inflation and some dissent within the ruling elite.

Last week, the security service temporarily banned al-Intibaha, Sudan's biggest daily because it published a report about the army's fight against rebels in South Kordofan.

 


  Tunisia...

Criminal defamation laws land Tunisian blogger in danger...
Link Here 7th May

Tunisia flag Tunisian blogger Olfa Riahi has been charged with criminal defamation for posting an item in which the country's former foreign minister was alleged to have misused public funds. The minister, Rafik Abdessalem, stepped down soon afterwards.

The charge against Riahi came two weeks after university professor Raja Ben Slama was summoned to appear before an investigative judge to face the charge of defaming a public official. If convicted, Riahi and Ben Slama could face prison sentences.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in reporting the two cases, says they underscore the need to end the criminalisation of defamation in Tunisia. Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East and north Africa director said:

Criminal defamation laws have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and work against the public interest by deterring people from speaking out about corruption or other misconduct by public officials.

 


  Turkey...

Updated: Closed down because it broadcast the Taksim protest...An open letter from the Turkish Hayat TV
Link Here 15th June  full story: Press Freedom in Turkey...Not so free press

hayat tv logoHayat TV, a progressive Turkish TV channel of the working people, the youth, women and the intellectuals is facing closure.

We believe this is a blow to people's freedom of information.

The decision for the closure is made by the broadcasting regulator RTÜK, Radio & Television High Commission with the pretext that Hayat TV has no licence.

This is not true.

Hayat TV has been broadcasting since 21 March 2007 by ofcom license via TURKSAT satellite. But a recent change in broadcasting rules via TURKSAT requires broadcasters to obtain a RTÜK license to be able to broadcast via satellite.

Our application for a RTÜK license has been submitted and pending for a decision. We have taken all the necessary steps and RTÜK agreed that we could carry on broadcasting as it is until a RTÜK license is granted.

However, RTÜK is now making an arbitrary decision to close down our channel because of, we believe, our broadcast of recent protests in Istanbul and across Turkey.

RTÜK says they investigated "the complaints received for our coverage of the Gezi Park protests" and made a decision for the closure.

We believe this closure is part of the overall repression on the media in Turkey during the more than two-week-long Gezi Park protests. Four other TV channels have been given a fine by RTUK because of their coverage of the recent events.

RTUK sent a letter to TURKSAT to put an end to Hayat TV broadcast at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, 14 th June 2013.

We believe this arbitrary and unlawful decision should be reversed.

We call on all democratically minded people to show solidarity with Hayat TV .

Mustafa Kara

Hayat TV Broadcast Coordinator

Update: 4 TV stations fined for reporting on the Taksim park protests

15th June 2013.  See  article from  cpj.org

The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Turkish state media regulator to reverse its decision to penalize four TV stations in connection with their coverage of the demonstrations that have occurred nationwide over the past two weeks.

The state broadcast regulator, the High Council of Radio and Television (RTÜK), levied fines against the pro-opposition TV stations Ulusal Kanal, Halk TV, Cem TV, and EM TV, in the amount of 12,000 Turkish lira (US$6,460) each, for allegedly "inciting violence" and "violating broadcasting principles,". RTÜK claimed that the stations' live coverage of clashes between riot police and protesters in Taksim Square could harm the physical, moral, and mental development of children and young people.

While mainstream television channels such as Habertürk, CNN Türk, and NTV were airing unrelated programming despite the dramatic events unfolding in Istanbul's streets--incurring the frustration of protesters--Ulusal Kanal, Halk TV, Cem TV, and EM TV were streaming live coverage.

 


  Vietnam...

Update: Dangerous Blog...Blogger Pham Viet Dao arrested in Vitenam
Link Here 15th June  full story: Blogging in Vietnam...Bloggers under duress in Vietnam

Vietnam flagPolice in Vietnam have arrested a prominent blogger for supposed anti-state activities.

Pham Viet Dao was arrested in Hanoi for abusing democratic freedoms , the Ministry of Public Security said. Dao ran a blog critical of government leaders and policies, and discussed sensitive issues like the territorial row with China.

The charge against Dao, a former government official, carries a prison sentence of up to seven years. His blog was unavailable on Friday, according to reports.

In a previous speech he gave that was posted online by another blogger, Dao said social media in Vietnam made up for handicapped official media . Fortunately, with the boom of [the] internet, many individuals and bloggers have become journalists.

Update: Another victim

18th June 2013.  See  article from  inquisitr.com

A Vietnamese blogger has been arrested for online posts police have claimed are erroneous and slanderous toward the nation's communist government.

The man under arrest, Dinh Nhat Uy, had been operating an online blog on which he wrote negatively about the Vietnamese government and its officials.

Police officials are charging the blogger with abusing democratic freedoms and could face a seven year jail sentence for his dissenting blog posts.