People hold posters as they mark World Press Freedom Day in Tbilisi (Photo Credit: Vano Shlamov/AFP/GettyImages).
Governments and other organizations across the world are perfecting techniques to prevent journalists from shining a light on corruption and human rights abuses. From trumped-up charges and removing work licenses to murder, here are 10 ways journalists are repressed and prevented from reporting freely and fairly.
1. Physical Attacks
In some countries such as Syria, Turkmenistan and Somalia, governments, military forces and armed groups attack and even kill journalists who are seen to be critical of their policies and practices.
In May 2012, 18-year-old citizen journalist Abd al-Ghani Ka’ake was fatally shot by a government sniper in Syria while filming a demonstration in Aleppo. Armed opposition groups have also attacked and killed journalists.
Child soldier with adults, Sanghe, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 2002.
By Angela T. Chang, Advocate, Crisis Prevention and Response Team, Amnesty International USA
When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family—girls my daughters’ age—runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.
– US President Barack Obama, September 2012
Despite these strong words by President Obama against the use and recruitment of child soldiers a few months ago, he got reprimanded earlier this week for falling flat in delivering on tangible actions to address this issue.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a new report on Tuesday, calling out the U.S. and the Obama administration for failing to adhere to its international human rights obligations by continuing to waive sanctions on military assistance, per the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act, to countries that are known to recruit and use child soldiers – a clear violation of children’s rights and a war crime if the children are under the age of fifteen. Yes, you read that right. Seems confusing and backwards? That’s because it is.
Amadou Maiga from Mali , who has lost friends in conflict, speaks in front of a mock graveyard across from the United Nations (UN) which represents those killed by arms everyday around the world. The group Control Arms set up the campaign to help draw attention to the issues of deaths by guns and other armaments. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
With the negotiations now scheduled, President Obama and his administration are presented with another chance to show leadership on the global stage and to answer the question of who actually drives U.S. foreign policy: the U.S. gun lobby or the President. On no other issue is this question as under scrutiny as the ATT, coming to a head when the U.S. delegation pulled a July surprise and torpedoed the negotiations in the last hours of the conference.
At tonight’s debate President Obama and Governor Romney will face questions for the last time before the Presidential Elections. Even as they speak and try to sell themselves to the American public, scores of unmanned aerial vehicles will be flying over the skies of northwestern Pakistan, their remote control operators sitting thousands of miles away, and the hundreds of thousands of villagers under their shadow cowering in fear for when they will spit out a missile and wreak destruction over the land that has been their home for centuries.
In the words of the recent report compiled by NYU and Stanford University:
“Drones hover twenty four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan striking homes, vehicles and public spaces their presence terrorizes men, women and children giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities”
Even as the Presidential candidates sparred on October 11, 2012, President Obama had already authorized his 297th drone strike since taking office, it was the deadliest one in 2012, killing 17 people, the second strike in less than twenty four hours in the area. In the aftermath of the strike the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said the strike was a “clear violation of international law and of Pakistani sovereignty”. As has been the case, for the hundreds of other strikes the objections made by Pakistan, a country against which the United States has not declared war, they were ignored.
Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
Back in February 2010, reports indicated that Washington was imposing “impossible” conditions on aid deliveries for Somalia and holding up tens of millions of dollars of desperately needed food based on accusations that it would be diverted to terrorists. However, according to the UN official in charge of humanitarian efforts in Somalia, the accusations of aid diversions to terrorists were “ungrounded.’
And a few month later in June, even after reports of the Somali government employing children as young as thirteen in the military, the United States authorized arms sales to Somalia for some 40 tons of arms and ammunition.
None of us can do a whole lot about this deplorable situation, right? The Somalis have been at war for a couple of decades, seemingly fighting over dust and rubble (and as to the drought – well, what can we do about that when we can’t even agree as a government about whether or not global warming is influenced by human behavior?)
Following hard on the heels of the revelation that the Obama administration had held Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame in secret detention on a US naval vessel patrolling off the coast of Somalia for over two months, comes a startling new claim from The Nation magazine that the Obama administration is back in the extraordinary rendition business.
Writing in the latest edition of The Nation, journalist Jeremy Scahill alleges that since early 2009 the United States has maintained a secret prison located on a compound within the perimeter of Mogadishu Airport and that in July 2009 the United States was involved in the extraordinary rendition of Ahmed Abdullahi Hassan from Kenya to Somalia.
Without further independent investigation it is difficult to make a definitive judgment about Scahill’s claims but it is worth noting that he is the author of the well-regarded study “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army” and has extensive contacts in the intelligence, special forces, and private military contractor communities.
Amnesty USA’s Women’s Human Rights Group member Lyric Thompson was recently polled among a number of international women’s rights experts on the world’s worst place to be a woman. The results are in.
A recent survey by TrustLaw, a project of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, polled 213 women’s rights experts on what they consider to be the world’s worst place to be a woman.
The results are in, and topping the list are Afghanistan, DR Congo, Pakistan, Somalia and India, based on a variety of factors including rape and violence, lack of health services, poverty and human trafficking.
According to the poll, Afghanistan ranks as the worst place in the world to be a woman.
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009: 52 students were set to graduate in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, an unprecedented number for this country which has been ravaged by conflict for decades. But the graduation ceremony was interrupted by a suicide bomber.
The death toll? 23 people. Dozens more were injured. Three members of the Transitional Federal Government were also killed, including the Ministers of Higher Education, Education and Health, indicating that the attack was most likely politically motivated.
One of the students who was graduating that day, a 23 year old future doctor, tells IRIN what happened:
I was extremely happy that after six years I was finally getting my degree; it was the happiest day of my life. I was one of the first graduates to get to the venue for the ceremony. I was there at 8am. You have no idea how hard we worked to get our degrees. There were days we could not go class because of the security situation. I had to cross roadblocks to get to the university and brave gunfire many times; therefore graduation day was an emotional day for all of us. But then, just as we were about to receive our diplomas, a huge explosion ripped through the place. For a minute I was so dazed I could not understand what was happening. Then I realized my leg was bleeding and when I looked at where my colleagues had been sitting, there was nothing but death and destruction. – Sakhaudin Ahmed
Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s most active militant group, has denied responsibility for the attack. But Somalis disagree. In the past few days, hundreds of Somalis have marched down the streets of Mogadishu to rally against al-Shabaab, in what the BBC says is an “unprecedented show of anger at the militants.” And today, residents of a town close to Mogadishu fired back at Hizbul Islam rebels, one of Somalia’s other main rebel groups, to protest the arrest of a school headmaster who had a raised a Somali flag over the school.