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10 'most urgent' global press freedom cases: April 2019

April 1, 2019

Deutsche Welle has joined the One Free Press Coalition, a group of publishers using their global reach to spotlight journalists under attack around the world. A new list will be published each month.

Amnesty International - Symbolbild
Image: Getty Images/J. Thys

Formed in March 2019, the One Free Press Coalition is a collection of media publishers from around the world that have committed to use their collective audiences to stand up for journalists under attack for pursuing the truth. Members include The Associated Press, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reuters and The Financial Times.

"In accordance with DW's mandate, we support the One Free Press Coalition and its mission to harness the power of global networks in order to facilitate — and, if necessary, to defend — a diversity of opinion and freedom of the press," DW Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl said.

"The best weapon against the advance of populists and autocrats is free information, which can empower citizens to form an independent opinion," she added.

A monthly list

Each month, the news organizations that make up the coalition will highlight 10 "most urgent press freedom cases" for their collective global audiences and social media users. The first list, published in March, included Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul; Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar; and Thomas Awah Junior, a journalist imprisoned in Cameroon.

Eman Al Nafjan, a prominent women’s rights blogger in Saudi Arabia highlighted in last month's list, was recently released from prison, though charges have not been dropped. Pelin Unker, a journalist in Turkey who was also featured, recently had the charges against her dismissed.

"With the One Free Press Coalition, we are shining an enduring light from all corners of the globe on our fellow journalists who are being persecuted, punished or worse in the pursuit of truth," said Randall Lane, chief content officer for Forbes, who initiated the concept at a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

The mission of the coalition is to use the global reach of its members – which now numbers over a billion people worldwide – to draw public attention to journalists who are often isolated and do not have access to the international spotlight.


The list for April 2019:

1. Miroslava Breach Velducea (Mexico): Murdered for reporting on corruption and politics

In March 2017, La Jornada correspondent Miroslava Breach Velducea was murdered in the state of Chihuahua in connection to her reporting on links between politicians and organized crime. Prior to her death, she had received threats on at least three occasions for her reporting. There is currently one suspect in custody, and the next hearing is expected to take place in a few months.


2. Maria Ressa and Rappler (The Philippines): Arrest and legal threats for critical media outlet and its editor

Philipinnen Journalistin Maria Ressa
Maria RessaImage: Reuters/E. Lopez

National Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Ressa at Rappler on February 13 over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. She was released the next day, but Rappler faces separate retaliatory tax charges. On March 28, authorities in the Philippines issued arrest warrants against Rappler editors and executives, including Ressa, for violating laws barring foreign ownership of media. CPJ and First Look Media are partners in a legal defense fund for journalists, of which Ressa and Rappler are the first recipients.  


3. Tran Thi Nga (Vietnam): Journalist accused of spreading propaganda

After a one-day trial, Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state.” She produced a number of videos critical of authorities on topics like toxic environmental spills and government corruption.  


Azimzhan Askarov Kyrgystan Kirgistan
Azimzhan AskarovImage: picture-alliance/dpa

4. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan): A life sentence for documenting human rights abuses

Award-winning Kyrgyz journalist Azimjon Askarov has spent nearly nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite international condemnation, Kyrgyz authorities have upheld his sentence.


Rana Ayyub
Rana AyyubImage: Marie Claire South Africa

5. Rana Ayyub (India): When reporting leads to escalating online threats

The independent Indian journalist Rana Ayyub has spent her career covering taboo subjects, including violence against lower-caste groups and minorities in India. Because of her work, Ayyub has faced a wave of harassment on social media, including pornographic videos with her face photoshopped in them and the publication of her address and personal phone number.


6. Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau (Nicaragua): Nicaraguan journalists detained amid media crackdown

In December, Nicaraguan police raided TV station 100% Noticias and arrested station director Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau, its news director. Both journalists are being held on charges of “inciting hate and violence” and have been denied consistent access to legal services.


Anna Nimiriano
Anna NimirianoImage: IWMF

7. Anna Nimiriano (South Sudan): Newspaper editor in South Sudan, lives under constant threat

As editor of the Juba Monitor, Anna Nimiriano fights to keep her colleagues out of jail for their reporting, and has in the past been ordered by the government to shut down the paper. She perseveres in spite of arrest threats and constant censorship of herself and her colleagues.


8. Amade Abubacar (Mozambique): Mozambican journalist held in detention without trial

Radio journalist Amade Abubacar was arrested in January while photographing families fleeing militant attacks in northern Cabo Delgado province and was detained incommunicado in a military facility. He has since been moved to a jail far from home. There are no signs he will be released any time soon as he continues to be held in detention without trial.   


Claudia Julieta Duque
Claudia DuqueImage: IWMF

9. Claudia Duque (Colombia): Human rights defender endures attacks in Colombia where impunity remains 98.81%

The veteran investigative reporter has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture, and exile. Courts convicted three high-ranking officers of the Colombian security services for torturing Claudia and her daughter. As of January, all the detainees were released. The IWMF awarded Duque the Courage in Journalism Award in 2010. 


10. Osman Mirghani (Sudan): Independent journalist detained, health deteriorating

Sudanese authorities arrested Mirghani, editor in chief of the independent Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, in February. He has since been released but authorities have not made public what charges he was held on. Prior to his arrest, Mirghani had been reporting on ongoing protests in Sudan.


For more information on the One Free Press Coalition, visit their site, follow them on Twitter (@OneFreePress) or search for the hashtag #onefreepress. For more of Deutsche Welle's coverage of media freedom issues, go to the DW Freedom page or follow @dw_freedom on Twitter.

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