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CPJ Criticizes S. Sudan, Light on Lanka, Mali & UN, Censorship Ignored?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 12, updated -- When the Committee to Protect Journalists put its "Attacks on the Press" report online, under the heading Africa there were pages on Tanzania and Swaziland, for example, but none on South Sudan or Mali.

  CPJ's Joel Simon began the February 12 "launch" press conference by explaining why it was held at the United Nations (he cited countries trying to use the UN to control the Internet). Inner City Press when called on asked if CPJ thinks the UN Peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and Mali do enough to combat crackdowns on the press there, for example the Salva Kiir government seizing a complete issue of the Juba Monitor, and theats against MaliActu.

  Mohamed Keita of CPJ responded that South Sudan is "not free," adding that investigative reporting is particularly risky, contrary to what Kiir's foreign minister said recently in London.

  On Mali, Keita stated that things were better in 2013 than 2012; he said during the election CPJ reached out to the MINUSMA mission and they were responsive (to threats that never materialized). But what about the threats against MaliActu, for reporting on corruption? This has not been answered.

  Nor when Inner City Press asked about Sri Lanka, for example the murder of journalist Mel Gunasekera, was an answer given. Joel Simon had said Asia expert Bob Dietz had not come because the podium had only three places; he promised to revert with an answer on Sri Lanka on which unlike China he said he was not prepared. [See update below.]

  Though it has been questioned to CPJ before, Simon automatically gave the first question to the United Nations Correspondents Association, which itself has sought to get investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

 Now we wonder, including on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access, what CPJ thinks of the UN bureau chief of Reuters, with essentially a permanent seat on UNCA board, mis-using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to get Google to block access to a leaked anti-Press complaint to the UN from its search. Isn't that censorship? Watch this site.

CPJ's Nina Ognianova criticized Turkey, where a new law allows the blocking of web sites without a court order -- exactly what the Reuters bureau chief has done. CPJ's Sherif Mansour spoke about the Al Jazeera staff detained in Egypt -- on which @FUNCA_info previously tweeted this, particularly with regard to Peter Greste with which it has previously corresponded. All for one and one for all. But sometimes the most insidious threats to press freedom come "from within - and should be confronted. Watch this site.

Update: On Sri Lanka, CPJ did revert, with this:

"@innercitypress We're investigating Mel's case. So far, the murder doesn't appear work-related, as per sources we've talked to."

 Inner City Press asked a follow up: "Does CPJ think free press issues should be in #UN HRC process in March?" Watch this site.


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