South African police assault, charge journalist Paul Nthoba after he photographs COVID-19 lockdown

Authorities in South Africa should conduct a swift investigation into the beating of journalist Paul Nthoba and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On May 15, at least four police officers in Meqheleng, in Free State province, beat Nthoba, the owner and editor of the weekly Mohokare News local newspaper, who had photographed them while they were on patrol enforcing the area’s COVID-19 lockdown, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. The officers later charged Nthoba with obstructing law enforcement under a COVID-19 regulation…Read more

Indian journalist Dhaval Patel arrested, charged with sedition

Following his arrest, authorities in Gujarat must immediately release journalist Dhaval Patel and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. On May 11, police in Ahmedabad, in western Gujarat state, detained Patel and yesterday charged him with sedition and spreading false news amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to his lawyer Anand Yagnik, who spoke to CPJ over the phone, and news reports. The charges stem from a news article Patel, editor of the Face of Nation news website, published on May 7 alleging that Gujarat’s chief minister may be replaced after displeasure of his handling…Read more

Missing Bangladeshi journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol arrested after being found near Indian border

Police in Jessore, Bangladesh, should immediately release journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol from custody and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Kajol, a photographer and editor of the biweekly Pakkhakalmagazine, had been missing since March 10, one day after a criminal defamation suit under the Digital Security Act was filed against him and 31 others, as CPJ reported at the time. Today, the Border Guard Bangladesh arrested Kajol at the Benapole Port Police Station on charges of trespassing, saying that he was caught illegally crossing the border from India, according to news reports.…Read more

Swaziland journalists harassed, threatened with treason charges over reporting on king

Swaziland police should stop intimidating and harassing local journalists for reporting critically about King Mswati III and should allow them to write freely without the threat of treason charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On April 23, police officers raided the home of Eugene Dube, the editor and publisher of the privately owned news website Swati Newsweek, and seized his three mobile phones, a laptop, and work documents, according to local news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ by phone and messaging app. Officers took Dube to a local police station in Nhlangano,…Read more

Sierra Leone security forces attack, charge journalist covering COVID

Authorities in Sierra Leone should immediately drop all charges against journalist Fayia Amara Fayia and ensure those responsible for the attacks against him are held accountable, the Committee to Protect Journalists` has said. On April 1, in Sierra Leone’s eastern Kenema city, a group of at least 10 soldiers attacked Fayia, a reporter with the Standard Times newspaper, hitting him with their guns and kicking him, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, and a statement by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, a local press freedom group. Fayia told CPJ that…Read more

RSF Publish 2020 World Press Freedom Index

The 2020 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), shows that the coming decade will be decisive for the future of journalism, with the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting and amplifying the many crises that threaten the right to freely reported, independent, diverse and reliable information. This 2020 edition of the Index, which evaluates the situation for journalists each year in 180 countries and territories, suggests that the next ten years will be pivotal for press freedom because of converging crises affecting the future of journalism: a geopolitical crisis (due to the aggressiveness…Read more

Covid-19 triggers surge in violence, prosecutions against Bangladeshi journalists

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed by the increase in cases of civilian and police violence and judicial harassment of journalists trying to cover coronavirus-related issues in Bangladesh in the month since a general lockdown was imposed on the population. Many of the cases are detailed below. When the two journalists tried to approach Nasir Uddin, a district boss accompanied by several henchmen, they were badly beaten with sticks. In a Facebook post, Biplod described how they were attacked and how, “fearing for his life,” he managed to drag Bhuiyan’s body on to a…Read more

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