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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.