Myanmar Reuters Journalists Lose Appeal Against 7-Year Sentence

Myanmar journalist Wa Lone (C) is escorted by police after being sentenced by a court to jail in Yangon on September 3, 2018. Ye Aung THU / AFP

 

A Myanmar judge dismissed an appeal Friday by two Reuters journalists jailed for seven years while investigating atrocities committed against the Rohingya, dashing slim hopes that the pair could be freed early.

Reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested in Yangon in December 2017 and later jailed for violating the state secrets act, a charge Reuters said was trumped up to muzzle their reporting.

Prosecutors say the two had classified information regarding security operations in Rakhine state, from where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled during an army-led crackdown the United Nations has dubbed “ethnic cleansing”.

Aung Naing, a judge at the Yangon Regional High Court, said Friday the original verdict was “not wrong according to the law” and was a “reasonable decision”.

“The court decides to dismiss the appeal,” he said.

Lawyers can now appeal to the Supreme Court in Myanmar, a process that could take an estimated six months.

The reporters’ wives cried after the decision which condemns the pair to continue their stay at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, where they have been held for the last 13 months.

The two men — who were not present for the decision — have insisted they were victims of a police set-up, pointing to testimony from a serving officer who said superior ordered other to entrap them.

At the time of the arrest, they were probing a massacre of 10 Rohingya.

The original trial was widely regarded as a sham and seen as punishment for their investigation, sparking outrage around the world including from US Vice President Mike Pence.

Outside the country, the two men have been hailed as media freedom heroes and jointly named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2018, alongside other persecuted and slain journalists.

But they have gained little sympathy within Myanmar.

The violent military campaign in 2017 forced more than 720,000 Rohingya across the border to Bangladesh, with refugees bringing accounts of murder, rape and arson.

UN investigators have called for top generals to be investigated for a genocide and singled out civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for criticism for failing to stop the crackdown.

The image of the formerly renowned champion of human rights has been further damaged by the Reuters trial, and she has yet to speak up in their defence.

Reacting to the verdict outside the court the European Union ambassador to Myanmar Kristian Schmidt said he looked to the president of Myanmar to “correct” the injustice with a possible pardon.

AFP

Police Blamed For Abduction Of Journalists In DRC

 

Five journalists at a newspaper in the Democratic Republic of Congo were “abducted” on Friday, their managing editor said, after the publication of articles on the misappropriation of rations for police cadets. 

The detentions come after a series of prosecutions of journalists in the troubled nation, which is just two months away from tense elections to replace President Joseph Kabila.

“The police proceeded early this morning to abduct five journalists from AfricaNews. Octave Mukendi, Bruce Landu, Roddy Bosakwa, Dan Luyila and Laurent Omba were taken to an unknown destination,” AfricaNews managing editor Achille Kadima said in a statement.

The journalists had worked at the office of the tri-weekly newspaper overnight to finish the latest edition and were arrested on the premises.

The officers who took them did not show any documents, Kadima told AFP, adding that he had gone into hiding.

Earlier, he had written a letter to the national police chief complaining that police had conducted a “roundup” of copies of AfricaNews from newsstands.

On the front page of the current issue, the paper carried a story on an inquiry into misappropriation of police cadet rations, adding the head of the country’s police academies had been summoned.

General Celestin Kanyama is under sanctions by the United States, which accused him of responsibility for a 2013-2014 police operation in which at least 50 young men and boys were reportedly killed and more than 30 others were forcibly “disappeared”.

When approached by AFP over the case of the reporters, Kanyama said: “Stop your bullshit. Do not quote me over things I know nothing about.”

DR Congo ranks 154th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders press freedoms index.

The media freedom group on Wednesday sounded the alarm over the case of reporter Sylvanie Kiaku, of the weekly La Percee, who has been detained for more than a week on charges of defamation, over two articles she wrote about redundancies at a local bank.

At the time it urged the authorities to release Kiaku pending trial and amend legislation “in order to guarantee the right of journalists to freely report the facts and expose abuses without fear of reprisals”.

AFP

2019 Elections: BON Calls For Responsible Journalism

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) has advised media practitioners to be responsible in the discharge of their duties.

At its 70th Annual General Meeting on Thursday, the Chairman of BON, Mr John Momoh (OON), called all members of the media to reflect on how to serve the audience and the country.

Mr Momoh gave this advice on Thursday at the 70th General Assembly of BON in Abuja.

“Responsibility should be the beacon for media managers, editors, reporters, presenters and the whole media value chain,” Mr Momoh who is also the Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group said.

“Responsibility connotes objectivity, it connotes fairness, decorum, finance, partisan, patriotism, sacrifice, balance, truth and trust. I will recommend one or all of the following codes to journalists, the Nigerian Media Code on election coverage, the NBC Code on election reporting and the Global Journalistic Code.”

Chairman/CEO, Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh

On his part, Veteran Broadcaster, Tony Iredia, said journalists must be committed to the truth and uphold the ethics of the profession.

“Are we following the ethical values of the profession? Ethical values are things we all know; decency, fairness, objectivity, and so on, but the most important of them is the truth,” he said.

This, he explained, is because the truth is an absolute defence to defamation.

He urged journalists who would be covering the election to bear in mind that election coverage is a special assignment.

France Condemns Myanmar’s Arrest Of Journalists

This combo shows journalists Kyaw Soe Oo (L) and Wa Lone (R) being escorted by police after their sentencing by a court to jail in Yangon on September 3, 2018. Ye Aung THU / AFP

 

France condemned the jailing of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar on Monday as a “serious blow to press freedom and the rule of law” in the southeast Asian country.

“France reiterates its appeal for their liberation and the respect of their fundamental rights, as well as free media access in Rakhine State,” the foreign ministry said, referring to the region where the pair was arrested while reporting on the extra-judicial killings of Rohingya Muslims.

AFP

Press Freedom: Journalists Stage Peaceful Protest In Kwara, Ogun

Alleged Harassment: Journalists Stage Peaceful Protest In Kwara, Ogun

 

Members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) have protested against the harassment of journalists in the country.

The NUJ chapter in Kwara State held a peaceful rally in Ilorin, the state capital on Thursday to condemn the development.

Chanting various songs during the protest, the journalists led by the State NUJ Chairman, Umar Abdulwahab, condemned the alleged harassment of their colleagues by security operatives while carrying out their lawful duties.

The journalists started the protest started at the NUJ Headquarters in Ilorin and proceeded from there to the Government House where they submitted a letter for onward transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari.

They were received at the Government House by the Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Shabi, who represented Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.

Mr Sbabi promised to pass the message across to the appropriate quarters.

In the South-West, the members of the Ogun State chapter of NUJ held a similar protest in Abeokuta, the state capital.

Giving his address at the Iweirohin House, the State NUJ Chairman, Mr Wole Sokunbi asked government authorities to respect the rule of law and the fundamental rights of men of the profession.

 

See photos of the protests below;

 

Hoodlums Attack Journalists As Osun APC Suspends Chairman, Secretary

Hoodlums Attack Journalists As Osun APC Suspends Chairman, Secretary

 

The political atmosphere of Osun State became charged on Monday as hoodlums attacked journalists in Osogbo, the state capital.

The invaders stormed a venue where 11 out of the 16 members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) State Working Committee were addressing reporters.

The hoodlums suspected to be working for some APC members arrived the venue in a 14-passenger bus, carrying various dangerous weapons.

The APC executives were announcing the suspension of the Party Chairman, Gboyega Famodun, and the Secretary, Rasaki Salinsile, for an alleged plot to impose direct primaries on the party against the conventional delegate system.

The hoodlums, numbering about 20, caused serious panic and pandemonium at the venue as hundreds of party members at the briefing scampered to safety.

Despite the attack, the APC State Legal adviser, Goke Ogunsola, flanked with the Vice Chairman, Isah Adesiji; Assistant Secretary, Rasheed Bakare; and the leader of the Local Government Chairmen in Osun, Rufus Awotidoye, went ahead to announce the suspension of Famodun and Salinsile.

“We want to state loud and clear that we do not have confidence in the chairman and secretary of the party in the state again,” he said. “Therefore, we hereby pass a vote of no confidence on Prince Gboyega Famodun and Alhaji Abdul Rasak Salinsile, the chairman and secretary of the APC in the State of Osun respectively.”

The party executives further directed Adesiji and Bakare to take over the APC leadership as the Acting Chairman and Acting Secretary respectively, with a charge to lead the party to success in the coming governorship election.

“Finally, we want to inform the head of various security agencies in the state, more especially the Commissioner of Police, Osun State, that the lives of members of Integrity Group within APC, which cut across the organs of the party in the state across the 30 Local Government Council Areas, and the Area Offices are being threatened from certain quarters because of their stand against direct primary.

“We appeal to the heads of security agencies in the state to ensure the protection of our lives and property wherever we reside,” the legal adviser added.

Meanwhile, the embattled chairman told Channels Television that the purported direct primary directive was issued by the APC National Leadership and not his decision.

He, however, noted that the constitution of the party does not allow for anyone to suspend the chairman or any other person, stating that such action must be taken according to the laydown procedures.

Famodun said, “Unfortunately these days, politics is being played by matured and immature minds. The direct primary decision is not my decision, I have leaders that I report to.

“I don’t see a serious political party that will suspend its chairman a month and a half to the election,” he added.

Timeline Of Journalists Killed In Mexico This Year

 

It can be deadly to ask questions about multibillion-dollar drug cartels or government corruption in Mexico, where more than 100 journalists have been murdered since 2000.

Ninety percent of those cases remain unsolved.

At least five journalists have been murdered in the country so far this year:

1. Carlos Dominguez, 72

Dominguez, a newspaper reporter and political columnist in the violent northern state of Tamaulipas, was attacked as he drove in his car with his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren on January 13.

His attackers broke the driver’s side window and stabbed him 21 times, according to police.

In his last column, Dominguez condemned the violence sweeping Mexico in the build-up to the country’s July 1 elections.

In March, six suspects were arrested in the case.

2. Pamela Montenegro, 36

A video blogger on YouTube, Montenegro was known for a satirical character, “Nana Pelucas,” who poked fun at local politicians and spoke out against corruption cases in the southern state of Guerrero.

She was shot dead by gunmen inside a restaurant she owned in the Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco on February 5.

3. Leobardo Vazquez, 42

Vazquez was gunned down on March 21 outside his home in the eastern state of Veracruz, the deadliest for journalists in Mexico.

He had recently resigned from the newspaper where he worked, and administered a regional news page on Facebook.

4. Juan Carlos Huerta, 45

Huerta, a radio and television journalist, was shot dead on May 15 as he left his home in a suburb of Villahermosa, the capital of the southern state of Tabasco.

Mexican authorities have been criticized for downplaying murdered journalists’ work as a motive in their investigations, but state Governor Arturo Nunez, who called Huerta a friend, was categorical: “It was not a robbery. They came to execute him,” he said.

5. Hector Gonzalez, 40

Gonzalez, a correspondent for national daily Excelsior and local radio and TV stations in Tamaulipas, was found beaten to death on a dirt road Tuesday.

He covered politics and general news, including recent stories on his colleague Dominguez’s murder and the movement demanding answers on the fate of tens of thousands of missing persons in Mexico.

AFP

White House Condemns ‘Heinous’ Killing Of Journalists In Afghanistan

White House Condemns 'Heinous' Killing Of Journalists In Afghanistan
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders arrives at the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2018. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

The White House condemned Tuesday the “heinous” twin suicide attacks that killed at least nine journalists and 16 others the day before in Kabul, the deadliest assault on Afghan media since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

“We strongly condemn yesterday’s suicide bombing in Kabul,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

“Afghanistan’s press corps is a powerful illustration of how that country has transformed. There is absolutely no justification for such a senseless and heinous act.”

Sanders was echoing comments by Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, who insisted the US would stand by the Afghan people and the Kabul government.

“The murder of journalists and other innocent people is a great testimony to what it is we stand for, and more importantly what we stand against,” he said.

“We’ll stand by the Afghan people, we’ll stand by the Afghan government and the NATO mission will continue as we drive them to a political settlement.”

A separate shooting in eastern Khost province killed a BBC reporter.

AFP

Lekki Toll Gate: Hoodlums Attack Journalists As Residents Protest

The protesters at Admiralty Way, Lekki, Lagos on Friday, February 9, 2018.

Protesters on Friday morning gathered at the Lekki Phase one roundabout to kick against the Lekki toll gate tariff increase while some hoodlums hijacked the protest, attacking journalists.

The hike which came into effect on February 1, 2018, has seen road users pay more than they paid previously.

The protesters converged on Admiralty Way, Lekki, around 9:00 am which is two hours behind the 7:00 am schedule.

Amidst heavy security, the protesters were seen displaying placards and chanting songs demanding a reversal of the increment.

The protesters displaying a banner on a truck.

Tagged Occupy Lekki Toll Gate, the protest, however, turned violent as a group of young men started attacking people shouting “stop protesting,” “pull down the banner.”

The young men, who are suspected to be hoodlums hijacked the protest as they attacked some journalists including Channels Television cameraman whose camera was damaged in the process.

The Lekki Concession Company Limited (LCC) had reviewed the fares last week, attributing the development to “current business realities and increasing the cost of operation”.

Some police officers, however, weighed in and arrested the hoodlums.

They were taken away in the van popularly called “Black Maria”.

Police officers arresting the suspected hoodlums.

AFP, Reuters Journalists Detained For Covering Sudan Protests

FILE PHOTO

Journalists working for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters were among three reporters being held by Sudanese authorities on Thursday a day after they were arrested covering demonstrations against rising food prices that were dispersed by police.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP in Khartoum for nearly a decade, was covering the protests on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas on some 200 protesters.

Idris Ali was unreachable after the protest and authorities informed AFP on Thursday that he had been arrested along with two other journalists, including one working for Reuters, and was being held at a detention centre run by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

Authorities initially said Idris Ali would be released within hours but as of late Thursday, more than 24 hours after he was detained, he was still being held.

Authorities said the three journalists “are being investigated” but provided no further details.

“AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said.

Reuters did not name their detained reporter who they said was a stringer — a term used to describe people who work for media outlets part time or on short term assignments when news breaks.

The agency said they had last heard from their reporter just before they left to cover the protests.

“We do not know the circumstances of the detention and are actively seeking additional information about the situation,” a Reuters spokesperson said in their dispatch on the arrests.

Several protesters were also reported to have been detained at the demonstration.

Sporadic protests have erupted across Sudan after prices of food items, but mainly bread, surged following a jump in the cost of flour due to a shortage of wheat supplies.

Wednesday’s rally was called by the main opposition Umma Party, a day after a similar demonstration was held near the presidential palace in Khartoum following a call issued by the Communist Party. Tuesday’s protest was also broken up by police.

Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Rights groups said dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.

Critics have repeatedly accused President Omar al-Bashir’s regime of cracking down on the media in Sudan, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

AFP

65 Journalists, Media Workers Killed Globally In 2017

Sixty-five journalists and media workers were killed worldwide in 2017, according to annual figures published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday.

Among them were 50 professional reporters, the lowest toll in 14 years. However, the downward trend is due at least in part to journalists giving up working in the world’s deadliest spots.

War-torn Syria remains the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, RSF said, with 12 reporters killed, followed by Mexico where 11 were assassinated.

They included Javier Valdez, one of the most prominent chroniclers of Mexico’s deadly drug war, whose murder in May sparked a public outcry.

The 50-year-old AFP contributor was shot dead in broad daylight in the street in the violent northwestern state of Sinaloa.

His last book, “Narco-journalism”, recounted the tribulations of Mexican reporters who try to cover the country’s extremely violent “narcos” drug cartels.

RSF said Mexico was the deadliest country not at war, saying those who “cover political corruption or organised crime are often systemically targeted, threatened and gunned down.”

– ‘Alarming comments’ –

The Philippines has become Asia’s most dangerous country for reporters, with at least five journalists being shot in the last year, four of whom died of their injuries.

The rise comes after what RSF called an “alarming comment” by President Rodrigo Duterte who said in May that “just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.”

No journalists were killed in the country the previous year.

The overall number of professional reporters slain worldwide, however, fell to its lowest number in 14 years, RSF said.

Of the 65 killed, the report said 39 were murdered, while the rest died in the line of duty — collateral victims of deadly circumstances likes air strikes or suicide bombings.

The group said that the drop in the death rate may be because journalists were now being better trained and protected for war zones.

“The downward trend is also due to journalists abandoning countries that have become too dangerous,” it added.

“Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya have been haemorrhaging journalists.” But the trend is not confined to countries at war, RSF added.

– Turkey jails most journalists –

“Many journalists have either fled abroad or abandoned journalism in Mexico, where the criminal cartels and local politicians have imposed a reign of terror,” it said.

Turkey is the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists, the figures show, with 42 reporters and one media worker behind bars.

“Criticising the government, working for a ‘suspect’ media outlet, contacting a sensitive source or even just using an encrypted messaging service all constitute grounds for jailing journalists on terrorism charges,” the report said.

With 52 languishing in jail, China, however, continues to lead the table when bloggers are taken into account.

RSF accused Beijing of toughening its “arsenal of measures for persecuting journalists and bloggers.

“The government no longer sentences its opponents to death but instead deliberately lets their health deteriorate in prison until they die,” it added, referring to the deaths of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and dissident blogger Yang Tongyan, who both died of cancer this year after being diagnosed in prison.

Syria (24), Iran (23) and Vietnam (19) were the other top five jailers of journalists.

AFP

IPC Demands Justice For Attacked Journalists


The International Press Centre (IPC), has called for urgent justice for all journalists who have been attacked in Nigeria, through investigation and diligent prosecution of the alleged perpetrators.

The organisation made the call on Monday as the industry marks the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

According the IPC’s Safety Alert Desk, in the last one year there have been nothing less than 14 incidents of assault, threat, battery, arrest, kidnap, killing and invasion involving journalists and media institutions; a situation which the IPC Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade, described as an unwelcome development deserving the attention of media stakeholders.

The agency in its report compiled a list of some of those affected.

1. Jerry Edoho of Ibom Nation Akwa-Ibom State: He was picked up in Uyo by police personnel from the Force headquarters in Abuja on 6th of January.

2. Nsebiet John of The Ink Akwa-Ibom State: He was detained for a night in police cell, arraigned and granted bail to the sum of #250,000 on the 6th of January.

3. Premium Times, Abuja: The premises was invaded by armed police men on the 19th January, 2017

4. Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher, Premium Times and Evelyn Okakwu, Judiciary correspondent: Both were arrested by armed police men on the night of January 19, 2017.

5. Godwin Aliuna of National Mirror, Ebonyi State: He was attacked by alleged armed robbers in his residence on the 22nd of February, 2017.

6. Famous Giobaro, journalist with Bayelsa state-owned radio station Glory FM 97.1: He was shot dead by suspected hired assassins on 16th April, 2017.

7. Samuel Nweze, Publisher of the People’s Leader: He was shot by gunmen in front of his office in Abakaliki on the 2nd of June, 2017.

8. Charles Otu of the Conscience Newspaper: He was beaten to stupor with dangerous weapons and later abducted by suspected political thugs in Abakaliki on the 2nd of June, 2017.

9. Lawrence Okojie of Nigerian Television Authority, Benin: He was shot dead by gunmen at 8p.m while returning from work on the 8th July, 2017.

10. Amadin Uyi of Silverbird Television, Abuja: He was brutalized by police officers during the protest by Ourmumudondo group at Unity Fountain in Abuja on 8th of August, 2017.

11. Segun Salami of the Channels Television, Kogi: He was battered at the state house detention centre by security personnel attached to Kogi state government house on Monday 28th of August, 2017.

12. NUJ secretariat, Abia state: Invaded by Nigerian soldiers of Operation Python Dance on Tuesday 12th of September, 2017 during which some journalists were assaulted

13. Wale Odunsi, an editor with Daily Post (online publication): He was reportedly attacked by security men at the Kogi State government house on the 11th October, 2017.

14. Ikechukwu Ibe of the Daily Trust Newspapers: He was allegedly brutally assaulted by an Army captain at Jabi area of Abuja on the 26th of October, 2017.

The IPC believes it is rather unfortunate that Nigeria continues to rank high among countries where press freedom and freedom of expression are under threat.

Arogundade, therefore, called on the Police authorities to make public disclosure on what has been done so far towards unraveling the mystery behind killed journalists in Nigeria.

He also called on journalists and other media professionals to take their safety more seriously by keeping abreast with various safety tips for journalists covering dangerous assignments.