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Ecuador – Ecuadorian government tries to discredit work of private media

18 Oct

18 October 2012

Source: Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study
(Fundamedios/IFEX) – On 15 October 2012, a radio ‘cadena’ interrupted for approximately six and a half minutes news programs on the radio stations with the highest ratings, in an attempt to discredit the work of Fundamedios and assert that certain media outlets do not comply with labor laws.

This cadena – which was broadcast exclusively by Exa, Democracia, Radio Quito, Platinum, Visión, Sonorama, and Centro radio stations – was very similar to a TV cadena broadcast on 10 October, precisely 24 hours after Fundamedios attended a hearing at the First Civil Division of the Provincial Court of Pichincha, to appeal the president’s policy of forbidding his ministers to grant interviews to certain private media outlets.

The cadena stated that Fundamedios is responsible, to a certain degree, for the alleged lack of compliance with labor regulations by some media outlets. “Not all the media are complying with the law and this is known by organizations such as Fundamedios, which call themselves defenders of journalists”. Fundamedios should worry “first that the journalists it protects, should be up to date in the payment of their dues, whether their employers are media outlets or not”.

On 8 October another radio cadena interrupted for five and a half minutes the news programs of Exa, Democracia, Radio Quito, Platinum and Visión radio stations to justify the US$80,000 fine imposed on Vistazo magazine after an Electoral Tribunal (TCE) considered one of its editorial articles to be “electoral propaganda”.

This cadena stated that “faced with the decision made by the Electoral Tribunal, voices are already being raised in the defense of the magazine and are joining together to distort the information and the concept of opinion itself. That is how the esprit de corps works”. After presenting excerpts of opinions expressed by journalists about the radio cadenas – concerning the negative precedent that the TCE’s sentence would imply – the government stated: “one lie after another, not only is information manipulated, but now they try to mislead people about the right to express an opinion”.

via IFEX

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Blog: Sedition dropped, but Indian cartoonist faces other charges

18 Oct

Indian political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi waves the national flag after being released from jail on bail in Mumbai on September 12. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

After intense public pressure, the Maharashtra state government last week dropped the charge of sedition against Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. However, Trivedi still faces other charges as his case resumes tomorrow at the Bombay High court. 

The 25-year old cartoonist, who was arrested on September 8, could have been sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted of sedition. He still faces up to three years in prison for other charges including violation of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act and Information Technology Act, his lawyer Vijay Hiremath told CPJ by e-mail.

Trivedi’s legal team is in touch with India’s Home Ministry in a bid to get the remaining charges dropped, Alok Dixit, Trivedi’s friend and founder of Internet freedom campaign Save Your Voice, told CPJ by phone. “We are pleased that the sedition charge has been removed as [the Home Ministry] promised,” he said. “But we are prepared to fight the remaining charges.”

Trivedi will be absent from tomorrow’s hearing, according to his lawyer, as the young cartoonist is currently being filmed as a contestant on the TV show “Bigg Boss,” India’s equivalent to “Big Brother.” 

Trivedi had criticized corruption on his website, Cartoons Against Corruption, and published cartoons that mocked national symbols. One cartoon, for example, depicted India’s parliament house as a filthy toilet bowl. The website was shut down by the government when the cartoons surfaced last year. This is certainly not the first time the government has censored content on the Internet. Activists argue that government monitoring has increased in proportion to the growth of corruption allegations against politicians. This kind of censorship points to a larger pattern of “policing cyberspace,” Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Centre of Internet Societies, told CPJ last year.

The British-era sedition law, retained under section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code, has routinely been used in India to silence critical activists and journalists, despite calls by many for its repeal.  The Bombay High Court has directed the state government to submit a draft circular outlining the limitations and the parameters for the future use of section 124(A), according to media reports. The circular is meant to give the police a better idea as to which kinds of cases should and should not levy the charge of sedition, Hiremath said. 

from Committee to Protect Journalists http://cpj.org/blog/2012/10/sedition-dropped-but-indian-cartoonist-faces-other.php

Bahrain – Rights defender in Bahrain facing rioting charges after peaceful protest

18 Oct

18 October 2012

Source: Bahrain Center for Human Rights
(BCHR/IFEX) – 17 October 2012 – The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) express their deepest concern over the escalating judicial crackdown on activists as several human rights defenders and political activists have been either summoned for interrogation or arrested in the past few days over their peaceful activism. The GCHR and BCHR believe that the silence of the international community on the continued judicial harassment and detention of activists is damaging and that an immediate action is required to put an end to these violations.

On 16 October 2012, human rights defender and president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights Mohamed Al-Maskati was summoned for interrogation to Al-Naem police station. He was then arrested and kept in custody to be brought the following day before the public prosecution office on charges of “rioting and participating in an illegal gathering” in reference to the 12 October protest in Manama entitled “Self determination”. On 17 October, he was released after interrogation.

Al-Maskati has been active in documenting and reporting the violations committed by the Bahraini authorities in recent months. In September, he was subjected to an intimidation campaign and received more than a dozen anonymous phone calls threatening his life and the safety of his family. He delivered an oral intervention to the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva during a panel discussion focused on intimidations and reprisals, where he informed the HRC about the massive intimidation campaign against him.

In a separate case, on 16 October, human rights defender Nader Abdulemam was also summoned for interrogation at the public prosecution office. As of 17 October, Abdulemam has not appeared at the public prosecution office.

Finally, in addition to her previous 13 plus lawsuits, activist and human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja was summoned again for a new case that includes the charge of “insulting a police officer”. The case goes back to 6 May 2012, however it has been activated just now and a trial was scheduled on 17 October, but postponed to 2 November in order to summon Al-Khawaja.

Al-Khawaja was recently released on 3 October after she served a two months’ imprisonment sentence on the charge of “ripping the photo of the king of Bahrain”. She is expecting verdicts on several cases in the coming weeks.

Read the full report

via IFEX

Brazil – Veteran journalist missing in Brazil

18 Oct

18 October 2012

Based on IFEX member reports from: Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo – Abraji and Reporters Without Borders
Journalist and cameraman Anderson Leandro da Silva was last seen on 10 October 2012 in Curitaba, Parana state, when he left the offices of Quem TV, the station he owns, headed for Quatro Barras, in the Curitaba metropolitan area, report both the Brasilian journalists group Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

According to the Abraji statement, Da Silva, 38, has worked as a journalist for 25 years, covering social movements and working with civil society groups. He has witnessed clashes between various groups and police and in 2008 was hit with a rubber bullet when filming a confrontation between police and people being evicted from an industrial area. The incident was covered in the press and Da Silva received death threats that are thought to have come from police, says RSF.

When the journalist did not arrive back from Quatro Barras, his son called Da Silva’s wife to tell him he was missing. Da Silva had left the TV station office in the early afternoon and by midnight his family was seraching for him, Abraji reported. His sister Angela believes his disappearance is connected to his work and the film recordings he has made of many conflicts.

“When a journalist disappears in this part of the world, many people are reminded of the not-so-distant time when freedom of information was permanently violated by censorship and repression…this freedom still needs to be won through people such as Anderson Leandro,” said RSF.

The RSF press release mentions, worryingly, that the Paraná Union of Professional Journalists (Sindjor-PR) is reporting instances of threats being received by other journalists who have commented on Da Silva’s disappearance.

So far there have been no charges to the journalist’s credit card, nor withdrawals made from his bank account, and the car he was driving has not been found.

According to Abraji, “Strong evidence shows that this is another serious attempt against journalism, with characteristics that are typical of revenge for his journalistic activity. The authorities must undertake a timely investigation of the case.”

via IFEX

United Kingdom – UK defamation laws allowed doping to thrive in Tour de France

18 Oct

18 October 2012

Source: Index on Censorship
(Index on Censorship/IFEX) – This following is a blog post by Index on Censorship News Editor Padraig Reidy:

Lance Armstrong and cycling’s libel shame

In 1999, as the Tour de France peloton made its way torward’s the summit of Alpe d’Huez, at 1,850 metres one of the race’s most feared climbs, leader Lance Armstrong cycled alongside young French rider Christophe Bassons. Bassons had been making a name for himself by speaking out against doping in the sport, and Armstrong was not happy with him.

According to Bassons, Armstrong told him “it was a mistake to speak out the way I do and he asked why I was doing it. I told him that I’m thinking of the next generation of riders. Then he said ‘Why don’t you leave, then?’”

Armstrong never denied the incident, saying that he felt Bassons’s criticisms were bad for the sport. Ostracised by his fellow riders, Bassons quit the Tour, and gave up pro cycling shortly afterwards. The tone was set for Armstrong’s seven-win reign over the Tour, a reign we now know was characterised by systematic doping, bullying, denial and libel cases, real and threatened.

Professional cycling, and particularly the Tour, has probably never been “clean”, though current champion Bradley Wiggins and his Sky team insist that they have ushered in a new era in the sport. The demands the Tour makes on the human body make doping very difficult to resist. 1910 Tour winner Octave Lapize famously turned to tour organisers in a particularly brutal climb and shouted “Vous êtes des assassins! Oui, des assassins”. Even before and certainly since then, riders used a variety of substances to get them through the race, or just to the end of the day.

The 90s in particular were a dark time, with 1998′s Festina affair exposing some of the sport’s major teams as complicit in doping and almost bringing an end to that year’s tour as teams abandoned the race in protest. That year’s winner Marco Pantini was the subject of rumours for much of his career. He was to die alone in a hotel room in 2004.

In short, no one should ever be surprised if allegations about doping in cycling are made. And everyone involved in the sport has a duty to take these allegations seriously.

Instead, allegations against Armstrong and doping were held as an affront to the “cycling family”, and critical journalists and riders were silenced. The Sunday Times’s David Walsh, co-author of L.A. Confidentiel, an early exposé of Armstrong, was treated as a pariah. Walsh told Press Gazette how fellow tour journalists went so far as to be unwilling to travel in the same car as him. In 2006 Walsh’s employers settled a £600,000 libel case to Armstrong, who has now been disgraced by the US anti-doping agency’s report into cheating at Armstrong’s US Postal team. (the Sunday Times is reported to be looking into suing Armstrong for fraud).

Armstrong’s former masseuse Emma O’Reilly, a major source for L.A. Confidentiel (which has never been published in English) also faced legal action. Armstrong went on a litigation spree, boasting “I think we’re 10-0 in lawsuits right now” in 2006.

All this would seem embarrassing to recount now. And one would imagine that “the cycling family” is suitably chastened.

One would be wrong. The current head of the Union Cycliste Internationale, Pat McQuaid, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen have not just shirked any responsibility for the Armstrong era, they have decided to sue journalist and former rider Paul Kimmage, a longstanding critic of doping, for libel. McQuaid recently told Scottish rider David Millar, who himself was banned for doping, that there was no reason for the UCI to feel guilty: “How could we be apologetic? The UCI is not responsible for the culture of doping.”

The peloton of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish is, we are told, and we hope, a very different place to the peloton of Lance Armstrong and the US Postal doping machine. But the UCI has chosen to continue with the same culture that led to this point in the first place. It’s time to stop shooting the messengers.

Padraig Reidy is News Editor at Index on Censorship

via IFEX

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