UK: Adjournment of Julian Assange’s US extradition hearing considered amidst coronavirus concerns

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team has requested adjournment of his US extradition hearing to allow for adequate preparation of his defence, amidst concerns for his health as COVID-19 reportedly spreads at Belmarsh prison. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates the need for Assange’s immediate release before his health is further jeopardised, and calls for the extradition hearing to be postponed until lockdown conditions are lifted. District judge Vanessa Baraitser presided, and was joined in the courtroom by legal counsel. Assange was expected to attend via videolink, but he did not take part, and…Read more

Police in India’s Tamil Nadu state arrest journalist over COVID-19 coverage

Authorities in India’s Tamil Nadu state must immediately release journalist Andrew Sam Raja Pandian and drop their investigation into his outlet’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police arrested Pandian, founder and chief executive of the SimpliCity news portal, yesterday in the city of Coimbatore, and accused him of violating the Epidemic Diseases Act and two sections of the penal code, according to news reports and Tamil Nadu-based journalist Sandhya Ravishankar, editor of news website The Lede, who is familiar with the case and spoke to CPJ in a phone interview. The…Read more

Ugandan security personnel enforcing COVID-19 measures assault journalists

Since March 19, security forces have harassed or assaulted at least six journalists in the country while enforcing restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the journalists, who spoke to CPJ, and a statement by the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, a local press rights group. Uganda’s COVID-19 response measures have included a curfew and restrictions on public gatherings and transportation, according to news reports. President Yoweri Museveni classified the media as essential workers, not subject to those restrictions, according to declarations from the president and a report by the Daily Monitor.  “Journalists are essential workers and perform a…Read more

Postponement of CHOGM 2020 due to Covid-19

As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is necessary to postpone the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda on 22 – 27 June 2020. The 26th CHOGM and associated events will be held in Kigali at a time to be announced in due course. This decision was made in accordance with the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding Establishing the Commonwealth Secretariat and the CHOGM Technical Manual, as well as with precedent. His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda said, “In the coming months, every…Read more

In Ghana, soldiers enforcing COVID-19 restrictions attack 2 journalists

Ghana’s military should investigate the recent attacks on the press by soldiers and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On April 5, in the Aboaba Akurem community in south-central Kumasi city, a group of soldiers attacked and briefly detained Yussif Abdul Ganiyu, a reporter with the German government-funded Deutsche Welle news agency and the local privately owned Zuria FM radio station, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via phone and messaging app, and statements by the Ghana Journalist Association and Deutsche Welle spokesperson Christoph Jumpelt,…Read more

Zambia cancels broadcaster Prime TV’s license, police shutter office

Zambian authorities should restore Prime TVs broadcast license and cease harassing the outlet, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On April 9, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, Zambia’s broadcasting regulator, cancelled Prime TV’s license “in the interest of public safety, security, peace, welfare or good order,” according to a statement from the regulator, which CPJ reviewed. The statement said that Prime TV must surrender its license and cease broadcasting immediately. It did not specify any broadcasts or actions by the station’s employees that prompted the decision. On the same day, police arrived at…Read more

Five Zimbabwean reporters arrested while covering coronavirus lockdown

Zimbabwe is currently Africa’s biggest press freedom violator in connection with coronavirus crisis, with no fewer than five arrests of journalists in the past 12 days. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to give the police clear instructions to let journalists work freely instead of detaining them. The five journalists were all arrested while covering the lockdown that went into effect on 30 March and was ordered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa with the aim of containing the spread of the virus. The latest victim was Beatific Ngumbwanda, a reporter for the weekly TellZim, who was arrested for…Read more

UPDATE: Coronavirus and the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda

The next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is scheduled for June 2020 in Kigali in Rwanda. The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Government of Rwanda are monitoring developments regarding the spread and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have been in constant communication with the Government of Rwanda and we have set timelines and milestones that will allow us to carefully monitor and assess different options for CHOGM depending on how the pandemic evolves. An announcement is anticipated as soon as our plans have crystalised. In all these conversations, we have given priority to…Read more

Indian Supreme Court denies government request for prior censorship of COVID-19 news

The Indian government, on 31 March, approached the Supreme Court seeking a directive to news outlets to refrain from publishing any COVID-19-related news without clearance from the government, according to an affidavit filed by the government in the court and a report by the legal news website Live Law. The Supreme Court denied the request, according to the judgment reviewed by CPJ. The government had justified the request for the blanket order by claiming that “fake or inaccurate” reporting could cause panic in the country and had proposed setting up a “separate mechanism” for clearance of any coverage…Read more

Journalists assaulted by police amid coronavirus lockdown in India

Authorities in India must stop assaulting journalists and allow them to do their work freely and without restrictions, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police in Hyderabad and Delhi assaulted at least four journalists yesterday, as India began a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to news reports and journalists who spoke to CPJ. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a statement yesterday, reiterating that journalists are exempt from the lockdown and are free to do their work without any restriction. “Journalists are exempted from the ongoing lockdown in India because…Read more