Sudan Journalists Protest Over Jailed Editor

Pro-government Sudanese men remove anti-regime posters from a building in the capital Khartoum on March 26, 2019. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has cut the maximum jail term for violating the country’s state of emergency from 10 years to six months/ AFP

 

Dozens of Sudanese journalists Monday protested in downtown Khartoum demanding the release of a prominent editor detained for criticising a state of emergency imposed by President Omar al-Bashir, witnesses said.

Osman Mirghani, editor-in-chief of independent daily Al-Tayar, was taken away by security agents from his office on the night of February 22 after making televised comments on Bashir’s decision to impose emergency rule nationwide.

Bashir declared the state of emergency after an initial crackdown failed to quell widespread protests against his administration that erupted in December.

The journalists gathered in downtown Khartoum to express their solidarity with Mirghani and to fight for freedom of expression in the east African country.

“We are the voice of our own people and not of the regime,” they chanted and carried banners demanding Mirghani’s release, witnesses said, before dispersing.

The protest was organised by the Sudanese Journalists Network, a group belonging to the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) that is spearheading the protest campaign against Bashir’s iron-fisted rule.

Mirghani was arrested after an interview with Sky News Arabia in which he said Bashir’s measures would “spark a new wave” of protests and send a message that the public “can exert more pressure to achieve its goal of removing this regime”.

The US-educated engineer turned journalist has often been targeted by security agents, who have detained him several times, confiscated copies of his newspaper or barred its publication without giving any reason.

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Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) regularly seizes entire print runs of newspapers over articles it deems inappropriate, especially those criticising the authorities or government policies.

Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in media watchdog Reporters Without Borders 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

On Monday, scores of protesters also staged a demonstration in south Khartoum’s district of Jabra, where Bashir inaugurated a hospital hours earlier.

Men and women chanted anti-government slogans as they walked through the district, witnesses said.

Protests first erupted on December 19 in response to a government decision to triple the price of bread.

But they swiftly escalated into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir’s three-decade rule, with protesters calling on him to step down.

Protesters accuse his adminstration of mismanaging the country’s economy that has led to soaring food prices, shortage of fuel and foreign currency.

Bashir, 75, has remained defiant in the face of protests.

Journalists Campaign Against Electoral Violence In Adamawa

Journalists Campaign Against Violence In Adamawa

 

Members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Adamawa State have held a rally ahead of the governorship and state house of assembly elections scheduled for Saturday.

The march which held on Thursday in Yola and tagged “Media Peace Day Campaign” was organised by the union and a group, Search for Common Ground.

The media practitioners called for the support of electorates, candidates, and security operatives to sustain peace during and after the polls.

They also urged political parties and candidates in the state to accept the results of the elections and seek justice but not violence in cases of contentions.

READ ALSOAdebutu Endorses Akinlade, Asks Ogun PDP Supporters To Vote APM

Addressing reporters at the NUJ Secretariat in the state capital, the acting chairman of the union in Adamawa, Umar Dankano, said journalists jointly condemn proliferation of small arms, thuggery, hate speeches, and fake news.

He also appealed to winners in the elections to be magnanimous in victory and urged the losers to seek justice in court rather than cause violence.

The NUJ chairman also called on political actors in the state to continuously engage their followers in a bid to achieve a peaceful exercise.

Highpoints of the rally are captured in the pictures;

SERAP Sues FG, States Over Alleged Attacks On Journalists, Bloggers

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal and state governments to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over alleged attacks on journalists and bloggers.

According to a statement issued on Sunday, the SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the group is suing the government for what it described as “the frequent and repressive application of the Cybercrime Act to harass, intimidate, arbitrarily arrest, detain, and unfairly prosecute anyone found publishing views or facts perceived to be critical of the government at the federal and state levels and government officials.”

In the suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/09/19 filed by its Solicitor Femi Falana last week at the ECOWAS Court, SERAP argued that: “The Federal Government and several state governments and their agents have trampled on the rights to freedom of expression and information of bloggers, journalists, activists, and social media users through the repressive use and implementation of the vaguely worded provisions of the Cybercrime Act.”

SERAP stressed that the idea of democracy is that the people are encouraged to express their criticisms of elected government officials, with the expectation that it will improve the process of government.

In cases of alleged defamation of government officials, the group believes sanctions should “not be so large as to exert a chilling effect on freedom of opinion, expression and media freedom; penal sanctions, in particular imprisonment, should never be applied”.

SERAP is, therefore, seeking the following reliefs:

1. A declaration that the actions of the defendants and its agents and several states of Nigeria in arbitrarily enforcing the provisions of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 particularly its section 24 to harass, intimidate, arrest, detain, prosecute and imprison journalists, bloggers, and social media users, violate the rights to freedom of expression, information, opinion and privacy and media freedom, guaranteed under Articles 6,8,9 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Articles 7,9,17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party

2. A declaration that the provisions of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention, etc) Act 2015 are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with international human rights standards and infringe on the rights to the freedom of expression, information and opinion guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

3. A declaration that the continuing use and application by the Defendant and its agents and several states in Nigeria of the Cybercrime is illegal and unlawful, as it amounts to breaches of obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and information and media freedom

4. An order directing the defendant to immediately repeal and/or amend the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 in line with Nigerian obligations under international human rights law

5. An order directing the defendant and/or its agents and several states of Nigeria to provide effective remedies and reparation, including adequate compensation, restitution, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant to human rights defenders, activists bloggers, journalists and other online and off-line media practitioners that have been harassed, intimidated, unlawfully arrested, detained, and unfairly prosecuted by the Defendant.

A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Turkish Court Upholds Convictions Of Opposition Journalists

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo

 

A Turkish appeals court Tuesday upheld jail sentences against opposition journalists in a long-running case targeting the Cumhuriyet newspaper — one of the few remaining dailies critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Last year 14 former Cumhuriyet staff, including journalists and executives, were given multiple sentences for “aiding and abetting terror groups without being a member” but they remained free pending trial.

An appeals court in Istanbul said it unanimously approved the sentences.

Cumhuriyet reported that six former staff, including cartoonist Musa Kart, would have to go back to prison because their appeals had exhausted.

Veteran journalist Kadri Gursel and lawyer Bulent Utku would remain free given time they have already served in jail, the daily said.

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But the remaining journalists who were given sentences of more than five years, including investigative reporter Ahmet Sik who is now an MP with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, will have to apply to the Supreme Court of Appeals, Cumhuriyet reported.

This is also the case for the former boss of the paper Akin Atalay and former editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu.

The controversial Cumhuriyet case sparked global outrage over the state of press freedom in Turkey.

Unlike many Turkish newspapers — Cumhuriyet, the country’s oldest daily founded in 1924 — is not owned by a business tycoon but by an independent foundation.

 ‘Prison calling’

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey strategy and research manager, slammed the “biased” ruling.

“Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber-stamped by an equally biased appeals process,” he said in a statement.

“By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system,” he said.

According to the International Press Institute, 155 journalists and media executives are in prison in Turkey, making it the country with the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world.

Kart, who was awarded last year a top prize by the Swiss organisation Cartooning for Peace, wrote on Twitter: “Yes, prison is calling me again. Take care of yourself.”

Sik reacted with a quote attributed to French philosopher Voltaire: “We have only two days to live; it is not worth our while to spend them in cringing to contemptible rascals.”

After the convictions last year, Cumhuriyet was shaken by the resignation of several journalists in protest at management changes.

The daily has often had troubles with government authorities, with its former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar fleeing to Germany after being convicted in 2016 over an article alleging that Turkey had supplied weapons to Islamist groups in Syria.

AFP

Spain Demands ‘Immediate’ Release Of Journalists Held In Venezuela

 

Madrid on Thursday demanded the immediate release of journalists working for the Spanish news agency EFE who were arrested in Venezuela as part of a crackdown by Caracas on foreign media.

The Spanish government “strongly condemns” the detention in Caracas of four members of a team from Spanish news agency EFE by Venezuela’s state intelligence agency Sebin, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The government demands that the competent authorities release them immediately. The government again asks the Venezuelan authorities to respect the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, of which freedom of the press is a central element,” it added.

READ ALSOFive Foreign Journalists Arrested In Venezuela

The three EFE journalists — a Spanish reporter, a Colombian videographer and a Colombian photographer — were arrested along with their Venezuelan driver on Wednesday, according to the Spanish news agency.

Two French journalists from the TV channel TMC were detained on Tuesday as they filmed the presidential palace in Caracas and have not been heard from since, according to Venezuela’s main journalists’ union, the SNTP.

Two Chilean journalists who were also arrested on Tuesday near the presidential palace were kicked out of Venezuela on Wednesday, the union added.

The arrests come shortly after Venezuela’s opposition, which is challenging President Nicolas Maduro’s legitimacy as the country’s leader, appealed for fresh street protests to demand a transition government and new elections.

“They can not prevent the world from knowing what is happening in Venezuela,” opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last week, wrote on Twitter.

AFP

Five Foreign Journalists Arrested In Venezuela

COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 25, 2019 shows Venezuela’s National Assembly head Juan Guaido (L) speaking to opposition supporters at the Central University of Caracas (UCV) in Caracas, on January 21, 2019 and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offering a press conference in Caracas, on January 25, 2019. Venezuela’s opposition leader and self-proclaimed “acting president” Juan Guaido stepped up his campaign to oust President Nicolas

 

Venezuelan authorities have detained five foreign journalists covering the standoff with opposition forces seeking the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.

Two others, from Chile, were deported as the crisis spilled over to hit journalists covering the oil-rich but economically crippled nation’s latest taste of crisis.

Two of the detained are from France, two from Colombia and one from Spain.

The latter three worked for the Spanish national news agency Efe and had all come from Colombia to cover the growing turmoil.

Their detention was reported by the Efe bureau chief in Venezuela, Nelida Fernandez.

Two French journalists working for a TV program called Quotidien were detained Tuesday while filming outside the presidential palace, diplomatic sources said. A local producer working with them was also detained.

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Two Chilean TV journalists were detained Tuesday night near the presidential palace and held for 14 hours before being expelled from the country, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said.

The reason stated for their arrest was that they had been working in a “security zone,” he said.

“This is what dictatorships do. Stomp on freedom of the press,” the minister wrote on Twitter.

In recent years, several foreign journalists have been detained or kicked out of the country on grounds that they did not have press passes.

Without mentioning the latest arrests, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Wednesday that foreign reporters have entered the country without work permits.

Venezuela’s political crisis intensified this month as national assembly speaker Juan Guaido declared himself interim president.

Protests against the Maduro government have left around 40 dead and 850 have been arrested since they started on January 21, according to UN figures.

AFP

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.