Press cuts – 8: Media Freedom round-up

Saudi Arabia | Hong Kong | Malta | India

Saudi Arabia

Jamal Khashoggi, former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan who was murdered in 2018 by intelligence officials in the Saudi consulate at Istanbul, topped the list of “10 most urgent” cases of injustices against journalists complied by One Free Press Coalition, a group of media professionals from around the world. The list, which was launched to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 3, named cases in which no charges were pressed or convictions made for killing the journalists.

Following a long investigation, UN’s special rapporteur concluded that Khashoggi’s death “constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the state of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”

Journalists from countries such as South Sudan, Russia, Yemen, and Mexico were also named in the list.

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More on Khashoggi –

Hong Kong:

In continuation to growing restrictions against media freedom in Hong Kong, Bao Choy, a journalist with the public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), was arrested for investigating an attack on protestors in 2019. According to CNN, charges pressed against Choy were in connection with reasons provided for obtaining data on vehicle registrations for her documentary.

Incidentally, the arrest happened after one of her investigations exposed police authorities’ delayed response to a mob attack on anti- government protestors in 2019.

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Press freedom organisations have expressed concern over a recent incident of bribery attempt by a lawyer named Gianluca Caruana Curran to Ivan Martin, a journalist with the Times of Malta. During a legal meeting on the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist, Curran, who defends a businessman accused of complicity in Galizia’s death, allegedly passed on a wad of cash to Martin. The European Centre for Press & Media Freedom, wrote, “So-called “envelope journalism” runs counter to media freedom and even an unsuccessful attempt to bribe a reporter undermines journalistic integrity and demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the media’s watchdog role in a democratic society.”

Several media freedom organizations including the International Press Institute, Free Press Unlimited, and Reporters without Borders, signed a joint statement and called on Maltese authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter.

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Journalists from Kamalpur, Tripura boycotted a programme attended by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb as a mark of protest against recent attacks on media in the state. On November 7, over 6000 copies of vernacular newspaper Pratibadi Kalam was destroyed by a group of miscreants in Gomati district, Tripura. The newspaper reportedly covered a major scam of Rs 150 crore involving the state’s agriculture minister Pranajit Singha.

The Assembly of Journalists, a section of editors and journalists, condemned the “anti-newspaper and anti-journalist activities of a section of the ruling party in the state and urged the government’s agriculture department and the guilty party to refrain from such heinous activities.”

Earlier, CM Deb’s “warning” for newspapers misleading people on issues related to COVID-19 received backlash from journalist organisations.

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