September 30, 2020

Press Freedom

Press Freedom Update August 6

The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership on Aug. 3 released its monthly roster of the 10 most pressing cases of journalists under attack. The list includes Austin Tice, in honor of the 8-year anniversary of the journalist’s capture in Syria, and Maria Ressa, editor on trial in the Philippines for bogus charges connected to her work. The list also includes journalist Azimjon Askarov in Kyrgyzstan, whose death due to medical neglect while serving a life sentence highlights risks for incarcerated journalists around the world. Other cases on the list underscore press freedom concerns in Iran, Burundi, Russia, India, Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Aug. 4 reported on new government tactics used against reporters in Kashmir to discredit their work and intimidate media. “I’ve never seen this kind of retribution from the state for reporting what is happening on the ground,” Srinagar-based senior journalist Peerzada Ashiq, a correspondent for the national daily The Hindu, told the CPJ. Police in Kashmir launched an investigation and accused Ashiq of publishing “fake news” in April after he published an article about the families of two militants who wanted to exhume their bodies to perform funeral rites. Several other journalists described escalating use of intimidation tactics in the report.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and the Zimbabwean branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) have written a letter to Zimbabwe’s information minister voicing alarm about a spike in assaults on journalists and arrests in connection with their coverage of the coronavirus crisis. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the watchdog has registered more than 100 press freedom violations in Africa linked to coverage of the crisis. A quarter of the violations have taken place in Zimbabwe, the continent’s biggest offender.