CJA Newsletter

CJA Newsletter, December 2011, Issue No. 36

The CJA thanks the Commonwealth Foundation for its financial support: Contents: P1: South African MPs pass “secrecy bill”; P3: Post CHOGM analysis; P6: Journalists in Pakistan; P9: The UK after the phone-hacking scandal; P10: Other news from around the Commonwealth

The CJA thanks the Commonwealth Foundation for its financial support: Contents: P1: South African MPs pass “secrecy bill”;  P3: Post CHOGM analysis; P6: Journalists in Pakistan; P9: The UK after the phone-hacking scandal; P10: Other news from around the Commonwealth

NEWSLETTER EDITOR: Debbie Ransome (see bio at the end of this newsletter)

South Africa, the “Secrecy Bill” and relations between media and officials

South African MPs have approved the much-criticised Protection of State Information Bill which proposes sentences of up to 25 years for anyone found in possession of classified government documents.

Dubbed the “secrecy bill” by its critics, the legislation was passed in the South African parliament by 229 votes to 107 on November 22.  Two MPs chose not to vote.

To protest, South African journalists wore black outside the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Human rights campaigners and journalists dubbed the day “Black Tuesday.”

The legislation bans publication of any document, even if in the public interest, which government declares to be classified.

Nobel prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer told Britain’s Observer newspaper that freedom of expression had been “struck out as a danger to the state.”

Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu had called the legislation “insulting”.

He said that the law could be used to outlaw “whistle-blowing and investigative journalism”.

The civil society Right2Know campaign group has been advocating against the Protection of Information Bill since its introduction in 2010.

Its activities had forced a rewriting of some of the clauses in the bill but the group had said earlier in 2011 that the bill threatens hard-won constitutional rights such as freedom of expression and access to information. http://www.r2k.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=53

African film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo wrote on September 20 on the BBC Africa Viewpoint website: “Citizens of the rainbow republic are uncertain about the wisdom of this law. They are concerned that there is no protection for whistleblowers and no public interest defence for the media.”

“Stories about systemic corruption – for instance, in the multi-billion dollar arms deal that has implicated top government officials, including Mr Zumawoud become impossible to cover and those that seek to shine a light into the dark nooks of power would be criminalised.”

Amnesty International said that, under the bill, journalists will no longer be able to argue that they are acting in the public interest by publishing sensitive information about the government. They could face up to 25 years in prison for publishing information which state officials want to keep secret.

The ANC has argued that the legislation will safeguard national security.

The legislation is now set to be placed before South Africa’s upper House and then signed into law by the president in 2012.

In the build-up to leadership elections in 2012 in South Africa, journalists continue to be drawn into the tensions created by splits in the ruling African National Congress and the ANC youth leader Julius Malema.

In August, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it had been “alarmed” at the anti-press violence by Malema supporters as their leader faced an ANC disciplinary meeting. At least nine journalists were injured.

Malema later told his supporters they cannot throw stones are journalists who are “just messengers”. The CPJ welcomed his restraint but called on him to publicly condemn the violence.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011

Following the decision at CHOGM in Australia in October to postpone a decision to establish a Human Rights Commissioner as recommended by the Eminent Persons group, debate has started about the next biennial meeting and the tackling of human rights issues.

CJA on EPG report: http://www.commonwealthjournalists.com/news/708/cja-releases-eminent-persons-group-report-after-commonwealth-leaders-block-release-at-chogm

Will Crawley looks at the debate over whether Sri Lanka should host the 2013 Commonwealth Summit made at an October discussion in London:

“In an event jointly organised by the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau and the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association held on 17th October 2011 Rahul Roy-Choudhury Senior Fellow for South Asia at The International Institute for Strategic Studies and Professor James Manor of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies London University, presented a case for and against the proposition that should Sri Lanka should host the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Introducing the discussion, Rita Payne Chair of the CJA, said that had been no official proposal to change the decision on Sri Lanka hosting the 2013 Summit. But strong concerns had been raised by some Commonwealth government and within other Commonwealth countries on aspects of Sri Lanka’s human rights record both before and since the end of the civil war. The CJA was not trying to be provocative. The purpose of the debate was to help clarify issues that were bound to be raised at the forthcoming CHOGM summit in Perth.

Rahul Roy-Choudhury argued not only that Sri Lanka should host the 2013 Commonwealth Summit as planned, but that it was in the interests of the Commonwealth and the international community to ensure that Sri Lanka does not withdraw from this commitment. He gave three reasons.

Firstly, he said that Sri Lanka was slowly recovering from a brutal 25-year conflict and it needed the support of the Commonwealth and the international community to help its stabilisation process. Holding the CHOGM in Sri Lanka would symbolise this engagement at the highest level. Secondly by hosting the summit the Sri Lankan government was incurring an obligation to ensure real progress on issues of accountability and reconciliation, and their implementation would be closely scrutinised.

Thirdly Dr Roy-Chaudhury argued that the Commonwealth leadership by holding Sri Lanka to its commitment to host the Summit would gain ‘leverage’ over still unresolved issues of accountability. Sri Lanka had not been suspended from Commonwealth membership, as had several members in the past, and there had been no indication from the Commonwealth that any such move was contemplated. Having won the war, President Rajapaksa’s administration must now win the peace through reconciliation and reconstruction. It should both assume the obligation and be given the time to achieve that objective.

Professor James Manor said that in arguing against the proposition he shared may of the assumptions of those who argued in its favour. It was common ground that both during the civil war in its aftermath there had been evidence of gross human rights abuses, both on the part of the Sri Lanka government and armed forces and on the part of the LTTE. He was not in any way seeking to condone abuses perpetrated by the Tamil Tigers which had shown itself over many years to be ruthless terrorist organisation. But he said that the Commonwealth had a well founded reputation as a force for decency and human dignity For Sri Lanka to host the 2013 summit would damage that reputation.

It will be seen as an endorsement of a government which has been criticised in successive reports by independent international bodies including the United Nations and within Sri Lanka itself for apparent war crimes, human rights abuses, threats to the media and open violations of democratic political and legal procedures. The Sri Lankan government had rejected these reports and ignored its critics. After hosting the 2013 summit Sri Lanka would assume the role of Chairman of the Commonwealth for the following two years. This would alienate some of the Commonwealth’s most committed supporters, some of whom already had the impression that the Commonwealth was retreating from its commitment to the importance of human rights.

In discussion views were divided. One argument was that the repeal of emergency powers in August 2011 was too recent to make judgments about the direction of Sri Lanka’s policy on human rights. Others argued that the responsibility of hosting the summit would help restore commitment and confidence in Sri Lanka’s long record of democratic and constitutional government. Some argued that the Tamil Diaspora which had provided much of the financial support to the LTTE had failed to adjust to the new situation. It had not suffered the effects of the war as the Tamil community had in Sri Lanka itself where the community had overwhelmingly welcomed the end of the conflict. Others argued that anti-terrorist legislation now in force made emergency powers unnecessary, and supported Professor Manor’s contention that the government was in no mood take note of any criticism.

It was suggested that critical western judgments on Sri Lanka were resented by the Sinhalese, and could encourage a resurgence of LTTE among Sri Lankan Tamils abroad in an attempt to start a new armed struggle. Professor Manor argued that the LTTE had now become an irrelevance. The crucial factor now was the Sri Lankan government’s failure to make a genuine attempt at reconciliation, and the resumption of a more open political process both for the Tamil community and for the country at large. No vote was taken but a show of hands showed some support for both sides of the argument.”

More on Sri Lanka:

Edward Mortimer, the Chair of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, explored what a shootout between politicians say about a nation:

Since the end of its civil war against the ruthless Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in 2009, the Sri Lankan regime’s own reputation for ruthlessness has grown. At its heart are the three Rajapaksa brothers – President Mahinda, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya (“Gota”) and Economic Development Minister Basil – controlling a formidable military force that has quashed all resistance and committed many grave human rights abuses. For the Tamil and Muslim minorities, the end of the war has been marked by further discrimination and alienation. But for many who belong to the country’s majority Sinhalese community, government restrictions on personal freedoms and the relentless militarisation of the island have seemed like a small price to pay for the prospect of national security and an end to the LTTE’s brutal campaign for a separate state… until a disturbing incident last month provoked unease and dissent even in conservative Sinhalese circles.

On 8 October, in the Kolonnawa district of Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, Colombo, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, an adviser on trade union affairs to the Sri Lankan president, was killed in broad daylight during a shoot-out with a group led by another parliamentarian, Duminda Silva, a Colombo district MP who had worked closely with Gota Rajapaksa. (Silva’s website states he was the Ministry of Defence’s monitoring officer – something the MoD is now struggling to deny.) Premachandra and three of his supporters died on the spot. They had been shot repeatedly from head to toe with T-56 assault rifles. A police source said that at least 40 rounds were fired.

Two of the bullets ripped through Silva’s skull. He was rushed to hospital and put on life support. A few days ago, the Sri Lankan press reported that he had been taken abroad for further treatment. During a parliamentary exchange the Leader of the House confirmed that no police statement had been taken from Silva because he had been judged unfit to speak. He added that Silva could not be prevented from leaving the country as “police had not identified him as a suspect”. Gone is the man who might have been able to shed light on this shocking incident, a man alleged to have connections to the defence secretary and the Colombo underworld.

So what do we know? According to the police, violence between the two factions involved is both commonplace and common knowledge. But Premachandra and Silva were prominent politicians belonging to the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance, not gang members. And the timing of the shooting – just two hours before the close of local elections – also points to a political, not a strictly criminal, cause.

This is the stuff of gangster stories, of the Mafia and Camorra, of Martin Scorsese films. In Sri Lanka, it is just another day. Following the attack the Minister for Construction Wimal Weeranwansa – an ardent Rajapaksa supporter whose manufactured anti-UN protests have provoked much derision – told a public meeting that “when a politician goes with an underworld gang and shoots another politician dead, it is not good for the country”. A breathtaking understatement that reveals the true nature of today’s Sri Lanka.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sought to create the illusion of a government that is strong and united, but this incident hints at the truth: Sri Lanka in is disarray. The Sunday Leader, a Sri Lankan broadsheet newspaper, has described the country as ‘Oppressed North, Lawless South’, where top politicians like the all-powerful Gota display thuggish behaviour and criminal affiliations. These are not mavericks or exceptions. Several other politicians have been involved in similar incidents. Mervyn Silva, for instance, currently Deputy Minister of Highways – previously Deputy Minister of Mass Media & Information, once tied a government official to a tree for his alleged failure to attend a dengue fever prevention programme. His name was also mentioned in connection with the murder of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge in 2009.

Yet somehow, the Rajapaksa regime has managed to persuade the international community to believe in a very different Sri Lanka. At the Commonwealth heads of state meeting in Australia, just three weeks after the shooting, most leaders – with the notable exception of Canada – were happy to avoid discussing the human rights record of the country that will be hosting their meeting in 2013, whilst Sri Lankan representatives dismissed a UN war crimes report as “a travesty of justice and preposterous”. They must have been delighted when the meeting’s host, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, said that Sri Lanka had to deal with its human rights issues itself.

On 14 and 15 November, foreign governments again fuelled the Rajapaksa myth by wining and dining with Gota during the ‘Galle Dialogue’ sessions in Sri Lanka. The guest list included representatives from Canada, Australia, France and the UK who had been invited to discuss strategic co-operation in the Indian Ocean. This sort of PR stunt, aimed at bolstering Sri Lanka’s international reputation, would have been a golden opportunity for countries to take a stand. But instead of boycotting the event, the international community showed once again that it has little to offer other than platitudes.

Within the country at least, dissent is beginning to take hold. Last month’s shoot-out sparked newspaper frenzy, with much speculation on whether the defence secretary has been protecting Silva. Familiar allegations of Gota’s connections to well-known thugs and criminals have gained a new lease of life, particularly the nature of his relationship with Silva, which many believe is the reason why Silva has not been named as a suspect in the shoot-out investigation and was allowed to leave the country. And this time, dissenting voices like the Sunday Leader have been joined by others that normally support the government (or are too afraid to speak out) such as Colombo Page and the Daily Mirror.

Sadly, the response has been another media clampdown. Two Sri Lankan news websites featuring articles and footage related to the incident, Lanka e News and Lanka Newsweb, have been blocked – another sign that, even though the war ended more than two years ago, the Rajapaksa regime is not ready to release its iron grip. Dissenters are still routinely accused of being LTTE supporters and are threatened or harassed, if not worse.

Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese elite is finally realising that the end of the war will not bring freedom, rights or accountability. It is time that the global community wakes up too.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/edward-mortimer/what-a-shootout-between-t_b_1096756.html

 

PAKISTAN

Greater number of slain Pakistani journalists

The pace of journalist killings in Pakistan shows no signs of slackening. Indeed, if there has been any change, it is the extent of torture in evidence on the bodies of the victims.

Javed Naseer Rind’s name is a recent addition to the list of more than 10 dumped this year in Balochistan. All showed signs of brutal pre-death treatment.

Rind’s bullet-riddled body was found in Khuzdar, about 300 kilometres south of Quetta. In his mid-twenties, he was a senior sub-editor for Tawar, a pro-nationalist daily newspaper.

“He had been shot in the head and the bullet had passed through the skull…and his body bore multiple marks of brutal torture,” doctors at the Khuzdar District Headquarters Hospital said.

Community police officers identified him when they found a slip from the body bearing the name Javed Naseer Rind. He had been abducted on September 10 near his home in the Mehmoodabad area of Hub Town, which shares a border with Karachi. His family had filed notice of the kidnapping at the Hub police Station.

The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) has demanded that the government launch a high-level probe of the killing. At the time of Rind’s death, no investigations had been carried out.

There have been no helpful clues so far in the hunt for the writer’s death.

In Lahore, police say they have drawn a blank in their quest for clues to the death of a journalist associated with the online publication, London Post Net.

Faisal Qureshi, 28, was found dead at his home in Johar Town obviously the victim of a homicide.

“We have sent the fingerprints and the laptop found at the scene to Nadra for forensic examination. Andwe have quizzed some of the callers recorded on his phone and we hope to reach the killer(s) soon,” DSP Malik Muhammad Mansha said.

“On the complaint of the victim’s brother that a political party might have been involved in the murder, we have investigated that aspect too but nothing has been established in this regard,” the DSP added.

It was clear Qureshi was in a “scuffle” with his killer or killers, he added. He said the man had lived alone in his family house and the police were looking for frequent visitors.

Pakistan: Professor makes claim that journalists to blame for their own deaths

Speaking to local officials in Vehari and Multan, Professor Hafiz Saeed, leader of Jamatud Dawa, blamed journalists themselves for the pace of killings in Pakistan.

He said he viewed them as being part of a conspiracy against jihad.

“The Pakistani press has aligned itself with foreign intelligence agencies and is promoting anti-jihad sentiments among the youth of this country,” he said.

“Jihad is the only chance for Pakistan’s survival and the Muslim ummah needs to unite against foreign powers rather than turn on each other,” he added.

Jamatud Dawa has been recruiting university and college students to join the organization. The party has arranged more than 120 forums in southern Punjab in the two years.

 

Pakistani journalist gets asylum in the US

Washington: The United States has granted asylum to a Pakistani journalist from Balochistan because it believed his claim that if he returned home he would be killed.

Siraj Ahmed Malik applied for asylum on August 19. In his petition he said his work as a journalist and activist in Balochistan, where he claimed to have exposed military abuses, made him likely to be arrested, tortured, abducted and “ultimately killed by the government” if he returned.

The Washington Post described it as “a highly unusual decision,” given Pakistan’s status as a strategic partner in Washington’s war against terrorists, a long-time recipient of US aid and a democracy with an elected civilian government and vibrant national news media.

Canada’s Right to Information standards slip markedly

Canadian laws on access to, and right to, federal government information, which set the benchmark for enlightenment when introduced under the Pierre Trudeau administration in 1983, have been outstripped by nations which much later embraced the Canadian model.

Canadian timelines for responses to request for information, supposedly enforced by a national Information Commissions, have been so extended and expense laden in recent years that they have been left in the dust of nations such as Mexico, Turkey and India where openness has become an aid to journalists.

This in spite of the Canadian government’s avowed commitment to open government. Waits for federally sourced data in Canada can be subject to 200-day extensions, only a shade better than the United States delay procedure of 10 months.

The deterioration of ATI and RTI in Canada was subject of a curt editorial entitled “Open Government: Late and Incomplete” in The Globe and Mail, the country’s prime nationally distributed daily newspaper.

(Sources: AP, CBC and The Globe and Mail)

Guillermo – Press Freedom nomination time

UNESCO has invited nominations for next year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. UNESCO member states, professional and non-government organizations are welcome to submit nominations for those doing significant work in journalism and freedom of expression.

The nomination site is http://www.fundsforngos.org/awards-and-prizes/unesco-seeks-nominations-unescoguillermo-cano-world-press-freedom-prize-2012/

The prize distribution ceremony will take place on World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2012. The winner will receive a sum of US$25,000.

 

Gambia: a snapshot of the media

Aloa Ahmed Alota, Executive Director of the Gambia Press Union, writes about the situation facing the media in The Gambia.

Here is a précis of his report (the full report can be found on the CJA website):

“Free expression in The Gambia is in danger of extinction.

Since 1996 when the Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh disparaged journalists as “the illegitimate sons of Africa”, journalists and media houses in The Gambia have been subjected to many and varied forms of harassment and repression. The crackdown on the media is so systematic and unrelenting that journalists barely have time to recover from one assault before the onset of another.

Yahya Jammeh came to power as a young lieutenant in the Gambian Army in a bloodless coup on July 22 1994. His coup brought to an abrupt end the 30-year rule of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, the first leader of the Republic of The Gambia. In his first public appearance as leader of the junta, known at the time as the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), Jammeh urged the press to hold his government to account. But when the press opposed his four-year transition programme, relations between him and the press went sour.

And they have remained so since then.

The first casualty of the organized media repression was Kenneth Best, a Liberian journalist who took refuge in The Gambia at the height of the Liberian civil war and brought along his Daily Observer newspaper, becoming the first daily in The Gambia. However, the paper’s critical stance on issues of good governance made him unpopular with the military authorities who orchestrated his deportation, on the pretext that he flouted immigration laws.

This was followed by more harassment of journalists and media houses, culminating in the closure of Citizen FM because of its daily press review in the local languages. Despite a court order for the re-opening of the radio station, its premises remained sealed off by armed policemen until the untimely death of its owner Baboucarr Gaye in 2007.

A similar fate also befell Sud FM, a private Senegalese radio station which was arbitrarily closed down, apparently for also carrying its own news and press review in the local languages. Since then therefore, existing private radio stations have been cowed down to the extent that they are no longer involved in political broadcasting. Instead, they only engage in commercial and sports programmes.

The home of Ebrima Sillah, who was at the time the BBC stringer in The Gambia, was burned to ashes while he was sleeping inside and he had to escape through the window. He now lives in exile, likewise the owners of The Independent newspaper, Baba Galleh Jallow and Alagi Yorro Jallow.

Omar Barrow, a radio journalist who was covering a student demonstration on 10 April 2000 was shot dead in cold blood. Witnesses who appeared at a coroner’s inquest in 2001 testified that Omar Barrow was shot dead by a soldier. And in July 2006, Ebrima ‘Chief’ Manneh, a reporter with the Daily Observer disappeared into thin air. His whereabouts are still unknown.

But the strong-arm tactics have now been swapped for obnoxious laws meant to wipe the independent press out of existence either through the imposition of unreasonably high fines or incarceration of journalists for any number of years for any breach of the law. These laws include false publication, sedition and seditious intention, defamation, insult to the president, the Newspaper Registration (Amendment) Act 2004, the Criminal Code (Amendment ) Act 2005, the Communication Act 2009, the Official Secrets Act, etc.

Several other journalists including Lamin Fatty, Fatou Jaw Manneh, AbdulHamid Adiamoh and Pap Saine have all been arraigned before the court on charges of publishing false information and sedition.

The climax of media repression in The Gambia as yet is the arrest, trial, conviction and sentence of the six Gambian journalists, known as the GPU 6. They are: Bai Emil Touray (Secretary General, Gambia Press Union – GPU), Sarata Jabbi-Dibba (Vice President – GPU), Pa Modou Faal (Treasurer – GPU), Ebrima Sawaneh (Editor, The Point newspaper), Pap Saine (Managing Editor, The Point) and Sam Sarr (Managing Editor, Foroyaa newspaper).

The upshot is that self-censorship is now the norm in The Gambia. This represents a threat to free expression and press freedom. And so long as these dreadful laws remain in the statute books, journalism cannot be as effective as it should in promoting good governance and sustainable economic development in The Gambia. And the media will always remain fragile and vulnerable to big business and political coercion.

While Gambian journalists are trying all they could to weather the storm and carry on with their work under such strenuous conditions, they still need the goodwill and support of their colleagues in other countries, particularly the Commonwealth. Therefore, engagement with the CJA will no doubt help to raise their morale and confidence.”

 

In the UK – the post phone-hacking dilemma

Following the summer’s high-profile phone-hacking developments, which included the closure of The News of the World newspaper and owner Rupert Murdoch answering MPs’ questions, the British media continues to deliberate over the nature of investigative journalism and the relationship between media and those in power.

Sir Harold Evans, the former Sunday Times and Times Editor, whose book Good Times, Bad Times had charted the paper’s achievements and Rupert Murdoch’s takeover in the early 1980s, chaired a Thompson-Reuter debate called “The Press we deserve” in London on September 21, 2011.

Currently Reuters Editor-at-large, Evans said in opening the discussion that the press was in more trouble because it could face greater restrictions in the post-hacking press environment.

http://blog.thomsonreuters.com/index.php/tag/the-press-we-deserve/

NEWS FROM AROUND THE COMMONWEALTH 

New York

Umar Cheema of The News, kidnapped and beaten black and blue last fall for his reporting on the government has been honoured by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York.

“I can’t finish without thanking my attackers who helped me in discovering the strength of character that I possessed but didn’t realize before,” Cheema said.

Cheema was tortured for almost seven hours and told not to speak to the media but he did tell all and has continued with his investigative reporting.

Pakistan

The  Founder of Lok Virsa  and the National Institute of Cultural Studies Rauf Khalid died on November 24.The renowned television writer, director and artist died in a motorway accident.

Pakistan: Journalist threats

Reporters Without Borders is concerned by a telephone death threat received by Mohammad Malick, the editor of the Pakistani daily The News International*, from a blocked number.

The threat followed his newspaper’s prominent coverage of the so-called “memogate

scandal, which led to the resignation of Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States this week.

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/islamabad-appoints-new-ambassador-to-us-after-pakistani-envoy-resigned-over-memo-gate-scandal/2011/11/23/gIQAHBW3nN_story.html)

“We ask the Pakistani authorities to take the telephone threats against Mohammad Malick seriously and to pay attention to his safety in the coming weeks,” the press freedom organization said.

“We do not want to see another tragedy like the kidnapping and murder of Saleem  Shahzad

(http://en.rsf.org/pakistan-slain-journalist-s-associates-say-26-07-2011,40691.html)

Pakistan: reporting on women’s right

Violence against women is a major health and human rights concern in Pakistan. Women can experience sexual, physical or mental abuse throughout their life cycle, in infancy, childhood and during adulthood or older age.

To read more from the Asian Human Rights Commission: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-ART-060-2011

 

 

Rwanda

Three journalists – two editors and a reporter – were arrested without explanation in Kigali in the space of one week in November. Two were released after some days without charges being laid, but the third remains in jail. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders criticised the official action and sought explanations and freedom of the one remaining detainee.

“This series of arrests has again highlighted the extreme vulnerability of journalists in Rwanda,” RWB spokesmen in Paris said.

Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government has blocked five news websites for allegedly defaming the Head of State, Ministers, senior public officials and VIP’s. The government also claimed that certain reports published by the websites in question, violated the laws of the country.

The blocked websites are Lanka eNews, Sri Lanka Mirror, Sri Lanka Guardian, and Lanka Way News.

Uganda

The Central Broadcasting Service, CBSfm, Kalangala district correspondent Ronald Ssembuusi is reported to have received death threats from former Kalangala boss Daniel Kikola over a news story.

The problem stemmed from a news story aired on the radio on November 17 which alleged that the former district boss in being investigated for his involvement in the disappearance of solar panels.

The Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that after the story was aired, Kikola called and invited the journalist to his home but he declined. Several calls followed and Kikola allegedly asked the journalist why he refused to go to his resident. As he was hanging up his last call, he allegedly threatened the complainant that something strange will happen to him.

CJA to confer in Malta in January

The CJA is to hold its next international conference – its ninth — at the Radisson Blu Hotel in St Julian’s, Malta, from January 29 to February 2. The Radisson charges 70 Euros – bed and breakfast – for a single room. If you share a room, it’s a very reasonable 37.50 Euros.

The CJA’s executive committee

Caroline Jackson South-East Asia

Lance Polu Pacific

Syed Belal Ahmed UK

Newton Sibanda Southern Africa

Alice Drito East Africa

Mahendra Ved India

Fauzia Shaheen Pakistan

Farid Hossein Bangladesh

Champika Liyanaarachchi Sri Lanka

Co-opted members: Derek Ingram, Rita Payne, Debbie Ransome, David Spark, UK; Murray Burt, Canada

Our thanks

We once again thank our news sources including Aloa Ahmed Alota, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Edward Mortimer, Free Media Movement (Sri Lanka), the Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda, Murray Burt, Rita Payne, the Rural Media Network Pakistan and Will Crawley.

Debbie Ransome is British born of Trinidadean parents. Her first job was a reporter at Radio Trinidad. She then went on to become the Caribbean News Agency’s first radio and newswire correspondent in Port of Spain. She went on to establish and run Cana’s Port of Spain bureau in the mid 1980s as well as working as an editor at Cana’s HQ in Barbados. She won awards for her coverage for Cano of the 1990 attempted coup in Trinidad. She worked as News Editor and then News Director at Radio Trinidad before joining BBC’s Caribbean Service as a producer in the early ’90s. Debbie worked as a producer at Bush House at the Caribbean service and also in the World Service newsroom before moving to work on the BBC World TV News.

About the author

editor