Vietnam has tried, convicted and jailed reporters for several reasons. Just this week, reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper was sent to jail by Hanoi’s people court. He wrote stories about government corruption. During the Beijing Olympics, China instituted temporary Olympics-related regulations that guaranteed reporting freedoms for foreign media — but these freedoms did not apply to Chinese journalists. In Russia, according to Human Rights watch, journalists and human rights activists are under siege. “Human rights activists and journalists are the ones who bring to the public’s attention the failure of governments to live up to their promises of justice and rights protection made in national law and their obligations under international human rights treaties,” Amnesty International said.
Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at Hanoi’s people court. Chien was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of a major state corruption scandal and also jailed his police source for one year.(AFP)
Amnesty International: On Russia
Recent attacks on independent journalists and human rights activists illustrate the risks under which they work in Russia, Amnesty International said on the eve of the second anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. The organization urges the Russian authorities to end impunity for violence against human rights defenders and the media.
“Human rights activists and journalists are the ones who bring to the public’s attention the failure of governments to live up to their promises of justice and rights protection made in national law and their obligations under international human rights treaties,” Amnesty International said.
“However, it is the human rights activists and journalists in Russia who too often themselves face harassment by the authorities and even become victims of human rights abuses themselves.”
In a country where TV and many other media outlets are controlled by the state, there is less and less space for independent reporting. Those journalists who attempt to report independently are obstructed from conducting their professional work and they may face intimidation and possibly prosecution. For example, the radio station Ekho Moskvy was repeatedly asked to provide transcripts of their programmes to the prosecutor’s office in relation to preliminary investigations into allegations that they had aired extremists’ views.
The space to express critical views in the Russian Federation has been gradually and progressively curtailed in recent years.
“Two years after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, human rights activists and journalists are still at risk in the Russian Federation, in particular in the North Caucasus region. They may be abducted and tortured, have their property attacked, receive death threats or killed in suspicious circumstances,” Amnesty International said.
Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on 7 October 2006 in the centre of Moscow. Two years after the killing, three people accused of involvement in the crime are in detention, but her murderer is still at large and there has been no independent investigation into those who may have ordered the killing.
“Anna Politkovskaya was one of those courageous people who tirelessly stand up for those who have suffered human rights violations. She was in all likelihood killed because of this,” Amnesty International said.
Amnesty International urges the Russian authorities to ensure on all levels that justice will be done in regard to her murder and to demonstrate clearly that there is no impunity for attacks on human rights defenders and journalists. The human rights organization will continue to follow the case closely and will continue to call for the protection of journalists and human rights defenders in the Russian Federation.
The disputed killing in police custody of Magomed Evloev, owner of an independent Ingush website, on 31 August 2008, needs to be investigated with utmost impartiality, to ensure that the circumstances under which he died are brought to light and that those who are responsible for his death are charged and tried in accordance with the law.
On 25 July 2008, human rights defender Zurab Tsechoev, working for the human rights organization MASHR (peace) in Ingushetia, was taken away from his home in Troitskaia, Ingushetia by armed men, thought to be federal law enforcement officials. A couple of hours later he was found on a roadside near Magas, the capital of Ingushetia, with serious injuries. He had to be hospitalized. Amnesty International calls for the perpetrators of this act against Zurab Tsechoev to be identified and to be brought to justice.
Late on 1 August 2008, an arson attack was allegedly made on the flat of human rights defender Dmitrii Kraiukhin from the town of Orel in the Central Russian Federal District. The arsonists had also allegedly tried to block the entrance door. Luckily, Dmitrii Kraiukhin was reportedly not in the flat, but his relatives who were, were able to alert the fire brigade in time. So far, to Amnesty International’s knowledge, no criminal investigation into this case has been undertaken, as the authorities allegedly considered the damage too insignificant to warrant a criminal investigation. However, this is not an isolated incident as far as threats to Dmitrii Kraiukhin are concerned.
On 14 August 2008, unknown assailants threw a brick through the window of the flat in Nizhnii Novgorod where human rights activist Stanislav Dmitrievskii lives. Luckily, nobody was hurt. At the same time, the entrance of his apartment building was covered with abusive language and threats against Stanislav Dmitrievskii. A criminal investigation into this attack has been opened.
Human Rights Watch: On China
The Chinese government should extend without limitation the temporary Olympics-related regulations that guarantee reporting freedoms for foreign media, and apply them to Chinese journalists, Human Rights Watch said today. The regulations are set to expire on October 17, 2008. The Chinese government should extend without limitation the temporary Olympics-related regulations that guarantee reporting freedoms for foreign media, and apply them to Chinese journalists, Human Rights Watch said today. The regulations are set to expire on October 17, 2008.
The temporary regulations were adopted in January 2007 as part of the Chinese government’s commitments to improve its human rights record, a key aspect of its 2001 bid to win the 2008 Summer Olympics. Human Rights Watch has documented the flawed implementation of these regulations, which were supposed to give foreign journalists greater freedom to travel and interview people across China, in two reports detailing the abuses and harassment of foreign correspondents.
Chinese government officials who have suggested that the regulations may be extended past October 17 include State Information Office Minister Cai Wu, who said in December 2007 that, “If practice shows that the regulation will help the international community to know China better, then it is a good policy in accordance with the country’s reforms and opening up.” Asked on October 7, 2008, about the likelihood of the regulations being extended, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Qin Gang stated: “China’s principle of opening up stays unchanged [after the Olympics]. “Foreign media and journalists are welcome to report in China as always.”
“While there were serious problems in implementing Olympics-related media freedom regulations, they did mark a new and much higher standard in Chinese law for reporting freedom,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “But keeping the regulations in effect and extending them to Chinese journalists would be one of the most important legacies of the Games.”
For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on media freedom in China, please see the following:
� October 11, 2008 op-ed by Phelim Kine in The Wall Street Journal, “Censorship Isn’t Good for China’s Health,” at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122368047325124731.html � August 2007 report, “‘You Will Be Harassed and Detained’: China Media Freedoms Under Assault Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,” at: http://hrw.org/reports/2007/china0807/ � July 2008 report, “China’s Forbidden Zones: Shutting the Media Out of Tibet and Other ‘Sensitive’ Stories ,” at: http://hrw.org/reports/2008/china0708/
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