21 May 2009

Volume 11 - 2002 Issue 09 (05 Mar. 2002)


Morocco

REVISED PRESS CODE STILL TOO HARSH, SAYS RSF

Journalists in Morocco can still be thrown in jail for up to five years if they commit press offences and foreign publications can still be banned, despite changes to a Press Code currently being considered by Parliament, says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Under the amended Press Code, adopted by the Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs and National Defence on 8 February but subject to final approval by Parliament, sentences for those convicted of defaming members of the royal family have been reduced from a maximum of 20 years to a maximum of five years.

Italy

RSF, IFJ DECRY BERLUSCONI'S GRIP ON MEDIA

Concerns about Italian prime minister Silvio Belusconi's potential conflict of interest over his extensive media holdings have flared up again, following the appointment of a new board of directors at Italy's public broadcaster RAI, according to INDEX on Censorship (INDEX), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Last week, the government appointed a new five-person board of governors for the public broadcaster RAI; INDEX says critics worry that a majority of board members have close ties to Berlusconi's ruling Forza Italia coalition, leaving the broadcaster vulnerable to government influence. RSF notes that Berlusconi already owns Italy's three biggest television channels (Rete 4, Canale 5, Italia 1) through Mediaset, as well as Italy's largest publisher (Mondadori) and largest advertising agency (Publitalia).

Iran

EZTAHOLLAH SAHABI RELEASED FROM PRISON

Ezatollah Sahabi, a journalist for the Iranian bimonthly "Iran-é-Farda", has been released on bail from prison, reports Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Sahabi, 75, had been arrested on 17 December 2000 and sentenced on 13 January to 4 ½ years in prison for producing "propaganda against the regime," says RSF. The allegation arose out of a speech Sahabi gave at Amir-Kabir Technical University in Tehran in November 2000. While in prison, the journalist had to be hospitalised twice following heart problems, says RSF. RSF says 18 journalists remain imprisoned in Iran, including Taghi Rahmani of "Omid-é-Zangan" who is in solitary confinement and has not been allowed to receive visits from his family. [See IFEX "Communiqué" #10-5].">http://communique.ifex.org/articles.cfm?system_id=2767">#10-5].

International

IFLA/FAIFE SEMINAR TO TACKLE ACCESS TO INTERNET INFORMATION

How should libraries and library professionals safeguard free access to information from a global perspective when the post-11 September trend is for tighter control of the information superhighway? This question is one of many to be discussed at a seminar organised for next month by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions/Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (IFLA/FAIFE). On 11 April, close to 100 participants from across Europe are expected to converge in Copenhagen, Denmark, for a one-day seminar called "Censorship and Free Access to Information in Libraries and on the Internet."

Madagascar

MEDIA TARGETED IN POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE

Four radio stations have been attacked in Madagascar following an eruption of violence over disputed presidential election results and the imposition of a state of emergency, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). IFJ, RSF and CJFE are expressing concern that the state of emergency, declared on 22 February by President Didier Ratsiraka, will have a negative impact on press freedom because it gives the president total control over news broadcasts.

Malaysia

MALAYSIAKINI.COM'S FUTURE IN DOUBT?

The future of Malaysia's leading independent online news service, Malaysiakini.com, could be in doubt if the government decides to include the Internet in its changes to a media-licensing law, INDEX on Censorship (INDEX) and the Digital Freedom Network (DFN) report. Although an official from the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry stated recently that the government has no intention of regulating internet sites, Malaysiakini.com's editor-in-chief Steven Gan has expressed scepticism, says DFN. Gan believes officials in other ministries have other plans, including introduction of revisions to the media licensing system.

East Timor

ARTICLE 19 RAISES CONCERNS OVER NEW CONSTITUTION

East Timor's proposed Constitution gives the government wide scope to potentially restrict the right to freedom of expression, ARTICLE 19 warned in an analysis last week. Although the group says it welcomes the process towards East Timor's adoption of a constitution ahead of the presidential elections and eventual independence, it says the draft constitution is "seriously deficient" in protecting human rights, including freedom of expression.

International

WIPC CELEBRATES WRITERS' ACHIEVEMENTS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

A Russian journalist, a Guatemalan historian, a Tunisian editor and a former Turkish publisher are to be celebrated for their "remarkable courage and persistence" on this year's occasion of International Women's Day. To mark the 8 March event, the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) is highlighting these women's efforts to uphold freedom of expression "in the face of extraordinary odds." The group has initiated letter writing campaigns on behalf of these women, most of whom live under constant harassment and threats.

Bangladesh

JOURNALIST GUNNED DOWN; TWO OTHERS TARGETED

Unidentified assailants shot and killed journalist Harunur Rashid (alias Khokan) on the evening of 2 March as he drove to the offices of his newspaper "Dainik Pubanchal" in Khulna, southwest Bangladesh, report Media Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). Rashid, a senior reporter for the daily, was driving his motorcycle to the newspaper's office in Iqbalnagar when he was struck in the chest by gunfire. He was rushed to a local hospital but doctors pronounced him dead on arrival, says Media Watch. Rashid, an active member of the Khulna Journalists Union and Khulna Press Club, leaves a wife and two children.