May 2017

days since last accident 182
May 2017

The following are links to articles related to media safety. The stories compiled here are from other sources and for informational purposes only. SAG-AFTRA does not verify their accuracy and posting them here does not imply an endorsement of the source.

Journalism Is Not a Crime: Crackdown on Media Freedom in Turkey
May 2, 2017 – Amnesty International USA
At least 156 media outlets have been shut down by executive decree since July 2016. According to the Union of Journalists in Turkey (TGS), an estimated 2,500 journalists and other media workers have lost their jobs as a result. In addition, the Directorate General of Press and Information has revoked the press credentials of 778 journalists. Vague anti-terrorism laws, such as those prohibiting making propaganda for and membership of a terrorist organization, are being used to prosecute journalists and media workers. These laws have long been used to unfairly prosecute conduct, including journalism, that is protected by the right to freedom of expression. All dissenting sections of the media have been targeted, including those focusing on the Kurdish issue; those accused of supporting the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former government ally and leader of what the authorities have called the “FETÖ” network, blamed by the government for the 2016 coup attempt; and the secular media. More than 120 journalists and other media workers have been detained, some for up to nine months without trial. In 2016, the Committee to Protect Journalists described Turkey as the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.
Yet despite clear evidence to the contrary, the government continues to claim that there are no journalists in prison in Turkey for their journalistic work. As the cases highlighted in this briefing show, such claims do not stand up to scrutiny. Amnesty International believes that the routine and lengthy pre-trial detention of journalists and other media workers in Turkey is tantamount to punishment without conviction. It calls for their release and for charges against them to be dropped unless there is clear evidence that an internationally recognizable crime has been committed. This clampdown on the media is taking place in the context of a purge of government critics from the public sector, credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in police detention, and a significant rise in political tensions. The cumulative effect of these actions has been to shrink the space for dissent dramatically and to intensify self-censorship in the increasingly compliant mainstream media.
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Journalism Is Not a Crime: Crackdown on Media Freedom in Turkey
May 2, 2017 – Amnesty International USA
At least 156 media outlets have been shut down by executive decree since July 2016. According to the Union of Journalists in Turkey (TGS), an estimated 2,500 journalists and other media workers have lost their jobs as a result. In addition, the Directorate General of Press and Information has revoked the press credentials of 778 journalists. Vague anti-terrorism laws, such as those prohibiting making propaganda for and membership of a terrorist organization, are being used to prosecute journalists and media workers. These laws have long been used to unfairly prosecute conduct, including journalism, that is protected by the right to freedom of expression. All dissenting sections of the media have been targeted, including those focusing on the Kurdish issue; those accused of supporting the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former government ally and leader of what the authorities have called the “FETÖ” network, blamed by the government for the 2016 coup attempt; and the secular media. More than 120 journalists and other media workers have been detained, some for up to nine months without trial. In 2016, the Committee to Protect Journalists described Turkey as the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.
Yet despite clear evidence to the contrary, the government continues to claim that there are no journalists in prison in Turkey for their journalistic work. As the cases highlighted in this briefing show, such claims do not stand up to scrutiny. Amnesty International believes that the routine and lengthy pre-trial detention of journalists and other media workers in Turkey is tantamount to punishment without conviction. It calls for their release and for charges against them to be dropped unless there is clear evidence that an internationally recognizable crime has been committed. This clampdown on the media is taking place in the context of a purge of government critics from the public sector, credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in police detention, and a significant rise in political tensions. The cumulative effect of these actions has been to shrink the space for dissent dramatically and to intensify self-censorship in the increasingly compliant mainstream media.
To read the entire article, click here.
 
Watchdog Group Slams Mexico for Failing to Protect Journalists
May 3, 2017 – Yahoo News
Three successive Mexican presidents have failed to halt a cycle of violence against journalists and impunity for their killers that is stifling freedom of expression and threatening democratic stability, a watchdog group said on Wednesday. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged President Enrique Pena Nieto to prioritize protection for the media in the last year of his government, after at least 21 journalists were slain in the past decade with "complete impunity." The violence has created an environment of fear that goes beyond journalism, CPJ's Americas program director, Carlos Lauria, said, speaking on the same day that the United Nations designated as World Press Freedom Day.
"It's inhibiting Mexicans from openly debating the problems that afflict society and indirectly affecting the stability of the country's democracy," Lauria said during a presentation of a CPJ report on Mexico in the drug-ravaged state of Veracruz. Mexico, where battles among drug cartels have left tens of thousands dead, has the sixth worst record in the world for resolving the murders of journalists, according to the CPJ. Despite promises of action by Pena Nieto and his predecessors Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox, Mexico's impunity rating has more than doubled since 2008, it added. The CPJ's impunity index is based on unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country's population. Four journalists have been killed in Mexico in recent weeks, prompting one newspaper in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez to close down citing a lack of protection from violence.
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UNESCO Emphasizes Importance of Journalists` Safety
May 3, 2017 – NetralNews
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) emphasizes the priority to uphold the safety of journalists while doing their tasks, as is guaranteed under the freedom of press. "We link freedom of press to the freedom of expression that is for everyone. Freedom of press for those practicing journalism as a profession aimed at informing society. It is very important in the world today that we also link that to the issue of safety of journalists, and there should be a guarantee by the state, and the required freedom should be offered to the journalists," UNESCOs Assistant Director-General Communication and Information stated on World Press Freedom Day here.
According to La Rue, every state must guarantee the safety of journalists as well as the freedom to access information, maintain privacy, and use of internet for communication. UNESCO views the safety of journalists as a major requirement, so that they can carry out their duties in the face of violence, particularly sexual harassment against women, which has reportedly increased in several parts of the world, intimidation, and the spread of fear. "This is the message we take for everyone in all parts of the world. Here, in the Southeast Asian region, we believe that it is important to enhance the role of journalism and is also the commitment of the Asian nations," La Rue marked.
To read the entire article, click here.

 

On World Press Freedom Day, Journalists Remember, Remind and Report

May 3, 2017 – The San Diego Union-Tribune

n 1993, the United Nations General Assembly voted to declare May 3 — the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration — as World Press Freedom Day. Every year since then, journalists have used the day as an opportunity to celebrate the “fundamental principles of press freedom,” to assess the state of press freedom globally, to defend the media from “attacks on their independence” and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives on the job.
In 2017, World Press Freedom Day has taken on a new importance. Freedom of the press globally declined to its lowest point in 13 years last year, according to Freedom House, a human rights organization based in Washington D.C. And according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 259 journalists across the world were in jail in 2016 — a record high since the watchdog organization started keeping track in 1990. On social media, many people spent the day speaking up for journalists amid an ongoing cacophony of voices shouting “fake news,” with public trust in the media at an all-time low and with world leaders — in the United States to Turkey to Japan — making the independent media’s job more difficult, even in democracies. In America, conversation focused on President Donald Trump, who has tweeted that some members of the media are the “enemy of the American People!”
Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy organization promoting freedom of the press, ranked the United States 43rd in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, citing Trump’s attacks on the media and the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistle-blowers and information leaks as reasons for the placement. However, just south of the border, to be a journalist is not only a risky job, but a life-threatening one as well.
To read the entire article, click here.

Attackers Beat TV Journalist at His Home in India's Andhra Pradesh State
May 8, 2017 – Committee to Protect Journalists
Authorities in India must investigate and bring to justice those responsible for an attack on freelance journalist Rama Reddy, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Reddy, a TV reporter, was attacked in apparent retaliation forhis reporting on illegal sand mining, according to a report in The New Indian Express. Reddy, who lives in the Eluru district of Andhra Pradesh state, was attacked in his home around midnight on May 3 by about four unidentified individuals, according to reports. The assailants knocked on the journalist's door and questioned him about his reports on sand mining, before beating him and his mother with iron rods, and then fleeing, the reports said. The journalist's head and legs were injured in the attack. The English-language news website Video Samachar and INews, a 24-hour Telugu language news channel for which Reddy works, both reported today that arrests have been made. CPJ was unable to confirm further details about the arrests with the police.
To read the entire article, click here.

Jailed German-Turkish journalist Yucel 'only gets a peek at the sky'
May 8, 2017 – Deutsche Welle
Safak Pavey: Deniz' psychology and internal power are amazing. He is really courageous and strong, although he is in solitary confinement and may not be receiving the letters that are being sent to him, because they are not being delivered. He is also very appreciative of all the solidarity from across the world.
What does he tell you about the conditions in his cell?
His cell is four times six meters, so very little movement. He has no contact to other prisoners. From the little patio that is connected to his cell, he can hear sounds and voices from other [prisoners] from the corridor, but he can't see them. From the patio he can only get a little bit of sunshine and a peek at the sky, because they took the decision to [cover the patio in] barbed wire, also the ceiling. This was introduced recently to prevent prisoners from exchanging messages.
He has access to some Turkish newspapers and he listens to radio. More than anything, he is concerned about being connected to the world, to the news. This is his passion.
We try to bring humor into our conversations as much as possible - and Deniz is a master of it. The other day when we were talking Deniz said: "You know when I look at the prison library, I see many Turkish authors' names who are actually serving prison time. So my advice to other authors is: Beware you [could end up] here any time."
All prison visits follow strict rules. What is the standard procedure?
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SANEF Condemns the Assault of Journalists
May 8, 2017 – The Citizen (South Africa)
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Monday condemned the physical attacks on journalists around the country. Journalists from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) were attacked over the weekend while covering the protests in Vuwani, Limpopo.
In Coligny, in North West, a photographer was assaulted by a farmer on Monday, while taking pictures outside a house that was torched following court proceedings. “Freedom of the media and freedom of expression are enshrined in our Constitution and should be respected by society as a whole. As such journalists should be allowed to conduct their work without fear or favour,” Sanef said in a statement.
Protesters and farmers in Coligny have attacked and chased away journalists who were covering the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the court decision. Photographic equipment belonging to journalists from various media houses has also been damaged. Sanef urged the affected journalists to report the incidents to the police and call on authorities to investigate and charge those responsible for the threats to cause harm, the physical attacks and the damage to journalists’ property.
To read the entire article, click here.

A Reporter’s Arrest after He Asked Tom Price a Question Sends a Chilling Message
May 11, 2017 – The Washington Post
We will be the first to acknowledge that reporters can be persistent — sometimes even obnoxious — in asking questions. But that, at least in the United States, has not generally been considered a crime. So it’s more than a little troubling that a reporter in West Virginia was handcuffed, placed under arrest and put in jail after trying to ask a question of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. The events unfolded Tuesday in the State Capitol in Charleston when Dan Heyman, a journalist with Public News Service, pestered Mr. Price as he walked through a hallway with questions about whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the health-care legislation passed last week by the House to replace the Affordable Care Act. “You refuse to answer? Tell me no comment,” Mr. Heyman said moments before officers of the West Virginia Division of Protective Services, also known as the Capitol Police, pulled him aside and arrested him.
Mr. Heyman was charged with a misdemeanor count of willful disruption of state government processes. The complaint alleges he was “aggressively breaching” the Secret Service agents who were with Mr. Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on their listening tour about efforts to fight opioid addiction. A spokesman for the Capitol Police insisted the arrest was not about his questions but his physical actions.
for America’s independent press as he allowed Russian media but not the American press into his Oval Office meeting with Russian officials.
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German journalist arrested in Turkey
May 11, 2017 – Deutsche Welle
German journalist Mesale Tolu was reportedly arrested during an overnight raid at her Istanbul apartment in the early hours of May 1. The socialist daily publication "Neues Deutschland" first reported the arrest in Germany, which later was corroborated by German state broadcaster ARD and Turkish newspaper "Diken".
Tolu was reportedly placed under remand facing allegations of spreading "propaganda for a terrorist organization" as well as "membership in a terrorist group." However, many of the more than 150 journalist arrested in Turkey under ongoing state of emergency measures introduced in the wake of the failed coup of July 15, 2016, are facing similar accusations. German daily newspaper TAZ meanwhile said that, according to Turkish sources, 33-year-old Tolu's arrest had been part of a police raid aimed at clamping down on socialist movements in particular. Prior to her arrest, Mesale Tolu's work had mainly been published by organizations seen as having socialist, pro-Kurdish leanings, such the private ETHA news agency and the Netherlands-based Firat News Agency (ANF), which the Turkish government links to the outlawed terror group PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). She also worked for "Özgür Radyo" (Free Radio), which was closed as part of the government purge.
Born and raised in southern Germany, Tolu became a German citizen ten years ago, for which she had to give up her Turkish citizenship. She had a short history in Turkey, having been living with her two-year-old son and her husband, journalist Suat Corlu, in Istanbul only since 2014. Corlu, a Turkish national, is also in detention facing similar allegations. Their son is now being cared for by relatives.
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Joint Letter to Canada's National Energy Board Condemning Witch-Hunt for Journalist's Sources
May 12, 2017 – Reporters without Borders
We are writing on behalf of two non-profit, non-governmental organizations that work to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). We are deeply troubled by the report that the National Energy Board (NEB), Canada’s energy regulator, hired a private investigation firm to investigate whether its employees are sharing information with media sources. The investigation has come to light as part of a National Observer special report on the secrets of Canadian government and corporations, conducted by managing editor Mike De Souza and other Observer reporters. The ongoing investigation will cost the federal government–that is, will cost Canadians–$24,150. While the NEB maintains that they have not spied on journalists as part of the investigation, the regulator’s witch-hunt for whistleblowers remains cause for alarm for the Canadian press and citizens alike. Whistleblowers are a critical source of public interest information for journalists, particularly in cases of misconduct behind government and corporate doors. For journalists to be able to do their job of holding the powerful to account, whistleblowers must be protected, not threatened by continuous investigation and surveillance.
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Recent Journalism Graduate Killed during Protests in Caracas, Venezuela
May 12, 2017 – Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas
The Venezuelan journalism community is rallying for justice for young social communicator Miguel Castillo who was killed during a recent protest in Caracas. Castillo, 27, died on May 10 after being hit in the arm by a round object that went into his torso. The Bolivarian National Guard (GNB for its acronym in Spanish) was repressing protesters in the area who had gathered to march to the Supreme Court, according to Crónica Uno. However, tear gas and pellets stopped the demonstrators, the site added. Castillo graduated two months ago from Universidad Santa María with a degree in social communication. A classmate and a former professor told Crónica Uno that his dream was to be a sports journalist.
At his wake on May 11, his sister Luisa Castillo said "Miguel had a heart that was much larger than his body. He was unique, special, supportive," El Estímulo reported. A friend, Brunella Elizondo, said, "He always protested. You cannot stop a whirlwind, a being so active. If nobody wanted to do something, he went and did it. He did not remain silent about injustices," the site added. The public prosecutor announced on Twitter that two attorneys would investigate Castillo’s death. Ombudsman Tarek William Saab said he also appointed a commission to investigate the death.
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Exiled Azerbaijani Journalist at Risk of Torture after Baku Abduction
May 31, 2017 – Armenian Weekly
Azerbaijani investigative journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, who vanished from Tbilisi, Georgia on May 29, is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment in Baku. Mukhtarli was found on May 30 in Baku and put in Azerbaijani custody after what he described to his lawyer as a cross-border abduction, according to Amnesty International.
According to activists and his lawyer, Mukhtarli is in the custody of the Investigative Unit of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan. His wife had reported him missing on May 29. The couple had gone into exile in Georgia in 2015 amid fears for their safety over his investigations into Azerbaijani President Illham Aliyev’s alleged links to corruption.
“This is a deeply sinister development in a country known for its long crackdown on journalists and human rights defenders,” said Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on the South Caucasus, who is currently in Tbilisi. “Afgan Mukhtarli must be immediately and unconditionally released and protected from torture and other ill-treatment.” Asatiani stressed that Mukhtarli has been detained solely for his work as a journalist.
After briefly speaking to Mukhtarli in Baku, his lawyer stated that Mukhtarli was abducted in Tbilisi by plain clothed men who spoke Georgian. The men tied up the journalist in the car, took him to the outskirts of Tbilisi and beat him. They then changed cars twice before taking him across the Azerbaijani border.
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BBC Drive Killed Taking Journalist Colleagues to Work as Explosion Rocks Kabul
May 31, 2017 – Press Gazette
Four BBC journalists were injured and their driver killed after a vehicle bomb exploded in Afghan capital Kabul’s diplomatic quarter today. The explosion killed at least 80 people and injured 350 when it went off close to the Germany Embassy in Zanbaq Square at 8.25am local time, during the morning rush hour, the BBC has reported. Driver Mohammed Nazir was taking his BBC colleagues to work when the explosion happened.
In a statement, BBC World Service director Francesca Unsworth said: “It is with great sadness that the BBC can confirm the death of BBC Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir following the vehicle bomb in Kabul earlier today, as he was driving journalist colleagues to the office. Mohammed Nazir worked as a driver for the BBC Afghan service for more than four years and was a popular colleague. He was in his late thirties and he leaves a young family. This is a devastating loss to the BBC and to Mohammed Nazir’s friends and family. We are doing all we can to support them and the rest of the team in Kabul.”
The injured journalists were treated in hospital and their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
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Rare Justice as Man Handed 40 Years in Jail for Killing Guatemala Journalist
May 31, 2017 – teleSUR
A Guatemalan court has sentenced a man to 40 years in jail for the killing of a journalist last year, offering a glimpse of justice for crimes against press freedom in one of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere for media workers.
Byron Estuardo Felipe Morales was handed 40 years in jail Tuesday for the murder of television journalist Victor Hugo Valdes on June 7, 2016, in the city of Chiquimula, located over 100 miles east of Guatemala City.
Valdes was the founder and director of a television program on a local channel and was remembered fondly by members of a local journalists’ union, among whom he was well respected, Guatemala’s Prensa Libre reported. Trained as a physician, the TV host worked in media for some 30 years, according to local media.
The journalist was shot dead while exercising in the streets of Chiquimula with his grandson, authorities reported at the time. Felipe Morales was arrested in relation to the crime about five weeks after Valdes was gunned down. Other suspects in the killing have not been captured.
According to Reporters Without Borders, killings of journalists in Guatemala makes the Central American country one of the most deadly places in the Western Hemisphere for press workers. Systemic impunity means many crimes against journalists go unpunished, fueling a cycle of abuses.
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Journalist ‘body-slammed’ by Gianforte donates glasses to museum
May 31, 2017 – The Blaze
Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for The Guardian, has donated his broken glasses to a Washington, D.C., museum after they were damaged during an alleged altercation with a Montana politician. The glasses were donated by Jacobs at the request of the Newseum and will be on display in the journalism museum’s collection, The Guardian reported Tuesday.
Republican Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte, then a candidate, allegedly assaulted Jacobs last week, when he tried asking Gianforte a question about the Congressional Budget Office’s score for the Republican health care bill. Rather than answer the question, though, Gianforte resorted to physical violence, according to Jacobs. An audio recording of the altercation surfaced immediately after Jacobs tweeted that he had been body-slammed by Gianforte. “I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte can be heard yelling. “The last guy that came in here did the same thing! Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing!”
The Republican’s campaign later released a statement, saying Jacobs entered Gianforte’s office space “without permission” and “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”
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