October 2017

days since last accident 165
October 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.

Israel Police to Restrict Media Coverage of Events if 'Journalist's Entry Inflames Violent Atmosphere'
October 2, 2017 – Haaretz
The police’s legal adviser has issued guidelines to police officers on dealing with the media that could result in media coverage of events being limited. The guidelines were issued following several media reports of violent police behavior during recent demonstrations by both disabled and ultra-Orthodox protesters. The document, written by Brig. Gen. Ayelet Eliashar, states that a commander on the scene may bar journalists from entering the area if there is “danger to life or limb, including fear that the journalist’s entry will inflame a violent atmosphere to a level that is liable to endanger people’s lives.” But it offers no elaboration on what circumstances could reasonably lead to such a fear and justify keeping a journalist from doing his job; that is left to the commander’s discretion.
The guidelines also allow the commander at the scene to deny journalists access if “there is fear that the coverage will violate a gag order.” Previously, the existence of a gag order didn’t bar journalists from covering an event; it merely barred them from including anything that would violate the gag order in their reports. But now police will have the ability to keep journalists away altogether. This is particularly threatening to media coverage because police usually issue an immediate gag order on all serious crimes, such as murder, and sometimes even on major disasters like the collapse of a Tel Aviv parking garage.
To read the entire article, click here.

Gandhi Jayanti: Reporters Slam Attacks on Media
October 2, 2017 – Aljazeera.com
Journalists in dozens of cities across India have protested against recent attacks on the media on the 148th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the country's independence movement.  "Journalists have protested in almost every state across India today. This is unprecedented and historic," tweeted senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on Monday, who was among the more than 100 journalists gathered at the Press Club of India in New Delhi. Between 100 to 150 journalists in New Delhi formed human chains to send a message of peace. "Gandhi Jayanti is a day of peace. We took out a peaceful march from the Press Club of India to the Women's Press Corps," Munne Bharti, a journalist with NDTV, told Al Jazeera. "Journalists are being attacked and killed, and the perpetrators are not being arrested. We demand that government act against the killers. "There are fears that journalists critical of the government might be targeted in the future. The government should take steps for the safety of journalists."
The recent killings of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh - a vocal critic of the government – and young reporter Shantanu Bhowmik has riled the media fraternity in India. Journalists critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration have been targeted by online supporters of the government, many of them followed by Modi himself. Ravish Kumar, one of India's finest broadcast journalists, wrote a public letter last week to the Indian prime minister, seeking Modi's intervention to stop online harassment and threats against journalists. "The sad part is that you happen to follow some of these people on Twitter who use grotesque language and indiscriminately dole out threats.
To read the entire article, click here.

Body of Abducted Mexican Journalist Is Found
October 6, 2017 – The New York Times
The body of a photographer was found Friday in the northern state of San Luis Potosí, a day after he was abducted from his home by men dressed as police officers, Mexican officials said.  The photographer, Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro, is the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year in retaliation for their reporting, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.  Another journalist, Salvador Adame Pardo, was abducted from his home in the Mexican state of Michoacán in May; although the authorities say that his burned body was found, his family believes that he is still missing.
According to Mr. Esqueda’s wife, armed men broke into the couple’s house while they were sleeping and said they were government agents. “They grabbed Edgar by the neck and threw him to the ground while pointing a gun at me,” she told Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom group.  Mr. Esqueda’s body was found at 9 a.m. on Friday, dumped in an open area near the airport, the San Luis Potosí State prosecutor said in a statement. Mr. Esqueda had been tied up and tortured, according to Metrópoli San Luis, one of two online newspapers to which he contributed.  The state prosecutor’s office denied on Thursday that any of its agents were involved in Mr. Esqueda’s abduction.
To read the entire article, click here.

‘Swept under the Carpet’: Violence against Zimbabwe's Women Journalists
October 9, 2017 – OpenDemocracy.net
Many journalists in Zimbabwe have experienced beatings, harassment, and detention by security forces. The constitution enshrines press freedom on paper, but in practice journalists are too often restricted and attacked whilst doing their work.  For female journalists, there is a double-edged sword, working in the media in a country that is so hostile to reporters and where gender equality can feel like a farfetched dream.
Freelance journalist Lucy Yasini says she was beaten up by police last year whilst covering youth protests that turned violent, with police throwing teargas into the crowd and demonstrators retaliating by throwing stones.  At first, Yasini said, police officers told her to run. Then, “one of them started beating me up with a button stick [extendable baton]. I could not comprehend why I was beaten even after having shown him my press card.”  Freelance journalist Anna Chibhamu was with Yasini at the protest last year. She says she was also attacked by police. “I started vomiting, feeling weak and dizzy,” she said. “What is the point of having a press card then?”
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist of ‘Sunday Apple’ Newspaper Tortured by Assistant Superintendent of Police of Tangalle
October 9, 2017 – lankaweb.com (Sri Lanka)
By Asian Human Rights Commission
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received information about Mr. Susantha Bandara Karunarathna, a journalist working for the ‘Sunday Apple’ newspaper. He was tortured by the Assistant Superintendent of Police of Tangalle, I. T. Daluwath. Susantha was engaged in his duties as a journalist, covering a peaceful protest at Hambantota Town on 6 October 2017. He was illegally arrested, detained, tortured and denied urgently needed medical treatment. The senior Consultant Surgeon examined the patient at the Debarawewa District Hospital, directing the Police to take the patient for immediate treatment at the Hambantota General Hospital. However, the Police refused, produced him before the Magistrate Court of Hambantota, remanding him in Tangalle Remand Prison. When his physical condition turned serious, Prison Authorities admitted him to the Hambantota General Hospital the next day. Observing the severity of the situation, the Doctors transferred the patient to the Matara General Hospital. Police have severely tortured, inhumanly denied urgently needed medical treatment and obstructed the journalist from doing his work.
To read the entire article, click here.


Police, Security Officers Allegedly Attack Four Journalists in Central Java
October 10, 2017 – Jakarta Globe (Indonesia)
Police and security officers allegedly attacked four journalists while dispersing protestors outside the offices of the Banyumas district head in Central Java on Monday evening (09/10).  The Indonesian Cameramen Journalist Association (KJI) alleges that the journalists were attacked by members of the Banyumas Police and the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) who "brutally" dispersed a group of people protesting against the construction of the Baturraden Geothermal Power Plant on the slope of Mount Slamet.  Security officers reportedly also tried to seize journalists' cameras and mobile phones. The four who were attacked have been identified as Agus Wahyudi of Suara Merdeka, Aulia El Hakim of Satelitpost, Maulidin Wahyu of Radar Banyumas and Darbe Tyas of Metro TV.
The authorities earlier warned the journalists against covering the event, the KJI said in a statement on Tuesday.  Darbe of Metro TV was reportedly punched and kicked by about 10 officers until he eventually collapsed and had to be carried to hospital.  "Doctors found bruises on several parts of his body, including his chest, back and ribs," the KJI said in the statement. "The officers did that because they saw this TV journalist as the one who documented most of the violence."
The Indonesian Press Council reported that there were at least 72 cases of violence against journalists between May 2016 and May this year, committed by various actors.
To read the entire, click here.

Wall Street Journal Reporter Sentenced to Prison by Turkish Court
October 11, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal
A Turkish court sentenced Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak to two years and one month in prison Tuesday, declaring her guilty of engaging in terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization through one of her Journal articles.  The conviction of Ms. Albayrak, who is currently in New York, highlights the increasing targeting of journalists in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has gained attention for deteriorating media freedoms.
“This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report,” said Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker. “The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded.”
Ms. Albayrak plans to appeal the decision. “Given the current climate in Turkey, this appalling decision shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but it did,” she said.  The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it condemned the Turkish court decision.  “The conviction of Ayla in Turkey is a very worrying sign and an escalation of the crackdown on the press,” said Nina Ognianova, the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, calling Turkey the world’s top jailer of journalists. “We call on the Turkish authorities to overturn this decision immediately,” she said.
To read the entire article, click here.

Moscow Journalist in Intensive Care after Stabbing Attack

October 24, 2017 – The Los Angeles Times
A well-known Russian radio journalist who was stabbed in the throat by an attacker has been operated on and transferred to an intensive care unit, her employer said Tuesday.  Tatyana Felgenhauer, a top host and deputy editor-in-chief at Ekho Moskvy, Russia's only independent news radio station, scribbled a letter to her colleagues from her hospital bed to thank them for their support.  "I will be fine," she wrote. "I had a good sleep for the first time in my 16 years on the radio."
Felgenhauer spent hours in a medically-induced coma following Monday's attack at the station's studios in central Moscow — the latest in a slew of assaults on journalists and opposition figures. Most have remained unsolved.  CCTV footage released by the radio station on Tuesday showed the attacker spraying gas into the face of a security guard in the reception area, ducking under the turnstile and running.
The Investigative Committee has identified the assailant as 48-year-old Boris Grits, who holds Russian and Israeli citizenship. After being apprehended, he told investigators he had been in "telepathic contact with Felgenhauer" for five years.  Grits was put in custody immediately after the attack. A Moscow court ordered his formal arrest Tuesday and said he should be kept in custody for two months pending an investigation.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalists Are Sick of Getting Arrested in St. Louis
October 25, 2017 – Riverfront Times (St. Louis)
A bevy of national journalism organizations have co-signed a letter to Mayor Lyda Krewson expressing their "concern" about just how many journalists have been arrested in St. Louis in the last six weeks.  For those keeping score, the number is ten — and of those ten, six have alleged the use of excessive force. Five say they were pepper sprayed. One, Mike Faulk of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was allegedly knocked to the ground and had his head pushed into the pavement in addition to being pepper sprayed. Another, Kansas City documentary filmmaker Drew Burbridge, also alleges he was beaten to the point that he lost consciousness.  Another, freelancer Daniel Shular, who has contributed to the Riverfront Times, was detained for eighteen hours after his arrest. That's even though almost all of the writers and photographers were wearing press credentials — and identified themselves as observers, not participants.
"All of the journalists arrested or assaulted were doing their job — one that often brings them to the scene of protests and law enforcement operations for the vital role of documenting these events for the public," notes the Committee to Protect Journalists in its letter, which was released last night. The letter was co-signed by the leaders of a host of media advocacy groups, including the American Society of News Editors, the National Press Photographers Association, the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. The groups have asked that the treatment of journalists becomes part of the focus of the independent review that Krewson has asked for into police handling of the protests. The letter notes that press freedom groups have contacted prosecutors to urge them not to press charges against the journalists. They've been told only that charges are "under advisement" and that prosecutors have a year to decide whether to proceed.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist, Activist Fall Victim to Philippine Killings
October 26, 2017 – UCA News (Union of Catholic Asian News – Thailand)
A radio broadcaster and an activist working as a paralegal assistant for a human rights lawyer have become the latest victims of what Philippine observers believe is a pattern of attacks against government critics.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed radio journalist Christopher Iban Lozada, 29, in Bislig in the southern province of Surigao del Sur on Oct. 24. He was the fifth journalist killed in the province in the past eight years.
Less than 24 hours later, two armed men shot and killed Edwin Pura, 49, a human rights activist working as a paralegal in the town of Gubat, Sorsogon province. The victim had been active in pursuing cases against soldiers suspected of human rights abuses in the southern Luzon region.  The National Union of People's Lawyers linked the killing of Pura to an earlier attempt to kill human rights lawyer Ron Ely Espinosa, NUPL's second vice president for the Luzon region. Pura had been working as a paralegal for Espinosa. Both were part of a team that searched for local farmers who were suspected of being abducted by the military early this year. 
To read the entire article, click here.

Armenian Journalists Assaulted for Doing Their Jobs
October 26, 2017 – Human Rights Watch
On the evening of September 28, Narine Avetisyan, editor-in-chief of a regional television station, got a call about workers laying asphalt on a road in the pouring rain in Vanadzor, Armenia’s third largest city. She went to investigate.  According to Avetisyan, soon after she arrived and started asking questions, the head of the construction company told her to go away, that the road work was none of her business. She said that when she didn’t leave, the director and several colleagues threw her to the ground, twisted her arms behind her back, and dragged her along the ground, demanding her phone. She said they seized her phone and deleted the video of the construction site. In response to a Human Rights Watch query, the director denied the charges.  Avetisyan filed a police complaint that evening. Investigators initiated a criminal investigation and brought charges against the company director for hindering the work of a journalist. But according to Avetisyan, the charges say nothing about her being physically attacked by the director and other workers.
Attacks on journalists are not uncommon in Armenia, and highlight the vulnerability of those who work in the media here.  In another incident a week later, Paylak Fahradyan, a journalist for the online news site Armday.am, was investigating a dispute involving a local hospital in the village of Shatin. Fahradyan said that when he began asking the doctor at the center questions about corruption allegations, the doctor and a hospital nurse tried to grab his camera. When he refused to delete his footage, they forced him into a room in the hospital, threatening to hold him until he did so. Fahradyan managed to leave the room about 10 minutes later, after he called the police. Investigators initiated a criminal case, but no charges have been brought so far. Human Rights Watch’s queries to the hospital staffers received no response.
To read the entire article, click here.

Gang Attacks Pakistani Journalist Critical of Military
October 27, 2017 – The New York Times
A prominent journalist and critic of Pakistan’s military was attacked on Friday by an unidentified group of men in the capital, Islamabad, leaving him gravely wounded.  There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the brazen, daylight attack, which sent a chill through the country’s community of journalists. The reporter, Ahmad Noorani, is well known for his critical views of Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence agencies.  Mr. Noorani worked for The News, one of the country’s most influential newspapers, and regularly wrote about the military’s outsize influence in Pakistani politics. As a result of his reporting, he had recently come under a series of threats.  In an effort to protect himself, this year he moved from his home in Rawalpindi to Islamabad, and this month he deactivated his Twitter account.
On Friday morning, Mr. Noorani was heading home after running an errand when his car was followed by men on motorcycles brandishing weapons, said Azaz Syed, a friend and colleague. At least six unidentified men dragged the reporter from his car, Mr. Syed said.  “They dragged Noorani out of the vehicle and beat him with iron knuckles, knives and iron chains,” Mr. Syed said. Mr. Noorani’s driver was also beaten. The attackers fled after a crowd started gathering and traffic came to a halt. Mr. Noorani was taken to a hospital where he was placed in the intensive care unit. His condition was stable, Mr. Syed said.  The police said they were investigating the attack.
Mr. Noorani has written extensively about a military intelligence investigation that led to the ouster of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in July. The military has denied any role in removing Mr. Sharif, but members of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Party have repeatedly alluded to a conspiracy.  Mr. Noorani had also accused the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, an opposition political party led by Imran Khan, of financial impropriety. Mr. Khan condemned the attack on Mr. Noorani in a Twitter post, but many of his supporters praised the assault on social media.
To read the entire article, click here.

Journalist’s Detention for Past Month Is Test for New Uzbek Government
October 27, 2017 – Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of Bobomurod Abdullayev, an Uzbek freelance journalist who today completes a month in detention in worrying conditions and is facing between 10 and 20 years in prison on a charge of seeking to “overthrow constitutional order.”  Abdullayev’s fate is a test case for the Uzbek government. He is the first journalist to be imprisoned under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, whose talk of reform has contrasted sharply with his predecessor Islam Karimov’s brutal policies.
After Abdullayev went missing on 27 September, two days went by before his family learned that he was being held at a Tashkent detention centre by the National Security Service (SNB), which accuses him of calling for the government’s overthrow in articles posted online under the pseudonym of Usman Khaknazar. His colleagues say this is inconceivable.  The SNB also claims that these articles were written at the behest of Muhammad Salih, a government opponent living in exile.  As per the latest available information, Abdullayev has not had access to a lawyer and has not been allowed visits by his family, except once.
To read the entire article, click here.

Free Expression Organisations Intervene on Cases of Detained Turkish Journalists
October 27, 2017 – Index on Censorship
Leading freedom of expression organisations have submitted third-party interventions in ten cases against jailed Turkish journalists to which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given priority status. The interventions offer detailed legal analyses of the principles at stake in the cases of the detained journalists.
The cases before the ECtHR concern the detention of board members from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, along with the cases of journalists Murat Aksoy, Şahin Alpay, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ali Bulac, Ayse Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Şık, Deniz Yücel, and Atilla Taş.
The separate interventions include submissions from the Media Legal Defence Initiative, PEN International, ARTICLE 19, the Association of European Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the European Federation of Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, the International Senior Lawyers Project and Reporters without Borders. The organisations worked with a group of British lawyers, including Eddie Craven of Matrix Chambers, in drafting the interventions.
To read the entire article, click here.