Freedom of Expression: Asia Pacific Round-Up

Threats to NGOs and civil society actors have escalated in a number of countries across Asia and the Pacific, among them the arrests of activists opposing the referendum in Thailand and supporters of the West Papua freedom movement in the Pacific.

Khadija Ismayilova walks out of prison after spending 1-1/2 years behind bars. (Photo: Meydan TV)

Khadija Ismayilova Freed from Azerbaijan Prison

Journalist Khadija Ismayilova was set free after her final appeal hearing today at the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan two days before her 40th birthday. Ismayilova, an award-winning reporter who exposed the corruption of the ruling Aliyev family, has been in prison in Baku since her arrest on Dec. 5, 2014. “There was no crime,” Ismayilova told the press upon her release. “President Aliyev and his clique decided to get rid of any criticism against them.”


Hungarian Journalists Build New Site After Controversy

In 2014, Hungarian investigative journalist András Pethő wrote an exposé about a series of expensive overseas business trips taken by the chief of staff to Prime Minister Viktor Orban for the popular website Origo.hu. Within days of the story’s publication, Origo’s editor in chief, Gergo Saling, resigned – apparently due to political pressure on Origo’s parent company, Magyar Telecom. Pethő and much of the rest of the site’s news staff quit soon afterwards in solidarity. The walkout led to much scrutiny of Origo and Hungary’s press freedom climate, both in Hungary and internationally.


Global Press Freedom Plunges to 12-Year Low

Global press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years in 2015, as political, criminal, and terrorist forces sought to co-opt or silence the media in their broader struggle for power, according to Freedom of the Press 2016, Freedom House’s annual report on media freedom worldwide. Only 14 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press—that is, where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.


RSF’s Press Freedom Index: A Growing Paranoia of Journalism

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released its World Press Freedom Index, ranking 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. “It is unfortunately clear that many of the world’s leaders are developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism,” wrote RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire. The index showed a deep and disturbing decline in respect for press freedom, and a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests.


How Creative Journalists Confront Hostile Media Environments

From a media outlet that pays citizens to report from remote areas of Kenya to a portal that uses humor as its main strategy to inform Russians, journalism faces different challenges in different cultural and social contexts. Creativity, however, seems to be a common skill that media entrepreneurs shared in addressing their problems at the International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) on Saturday, April 16.

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Against the Odds, Investigative Journalism Persists in Middle East

In the past year, a group of Arab journalists has been working secretly in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen as part of a global network of investigative reporters mining the so called “Panama Papers.” They found that some Arab strongmen and their business partners are linked to offshore companies and bank accounts. What’s astonishing about this story is not that Arab dictators are going offshore to hide their wealth and evade sanctions. It’s that a community of Arab journalists is continuing to do investigative reporting in a region where there is increasingly little tolerance for accountability of any kind.


GIJN Statement: Attacks on Dojčinović and KRIK Must End

The Global Investigative Journalism Network, an association of 128 organizations in 58 countries, deplores recent attacks on the character and work of Stevan Dojčinović and the KRIK investigative reporting center in Serbia. We call upon the government of Serbia to take all measures to protect the security of Mr. Dojčinović and his staff, and to respect their freedom to conduct independent journalism.

Rafael Marques

Angola: From Being Bullied to Dictator’s Nightmare

Writing has been my life’s passion and my curse too. In my teens, I was bullied for being an avid reader and for wanting to express my opinions as informed by my readings. I vividly remember being taunted with the idea that “too much reading will bring you madness, and disgrace.”


Slovenia: How a Neo-Nazi Exposé Almost Landed a Journalist in Jail

It was February 2013 when the police knocked on the door of Anuska Delic’s mother. The two officers had arrived at the house in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana at 8am to speak with her daughter concerning a criminal investigation. Delic, a journalist for the well-respected daily newspaper Delo, was being charged for revealing alleged connections between the ruling right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and the controversial neo-Nazi movement Blood and Honour.