Global Report 06.05.05

GREECE

The European Commission has asked the Greek government to change a
new law that bans people who own one per cent or more of a media
company from receiving public contracts. The law was approved by
Greece’s conservative controlled parliament – led by prime minister
Costas Karamanlis – in January to sever powerful and allegedly corrupt
links between the news media and public contractors.

But the EU says it breaches directives on the awarding of public
contracts and the principle of equal treatment in such bidding. AP

THE NETHERLANDS

Journalist unions have criticised a decision by the Dutch authorities to deport a journalist back to his native Sierra Leone. Ernest A Mason has been fighting for asylum since he fled his home in 1998.

He claims his name was on a death list of “unreliable journalists”.

Mason,
who used to work for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services, set up a
website (sierrawatch.com) in the Netherlands in which he criticised the
Sierra Leonean government. Expatica News

SAUDI ARABIA

Nahar Al-Mutairy has become the first Saudi journalist to win a seat in council elections.

Al-Mutairy, who works for the newspaper Al-Riyadh Arabic,
won a clear victory in the Asyah municipality on an 89 per cent
turnout. He had written stories highlighting lack of water and other
civil amenities in the town, and cuttings from his 19-year career had
featured in the campaign. “I have always acted the role of a municipal
councillor by reporting objectively all the concerns and problems of
the people of Asyah,” he said. Arab News

IRAN

Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of reformist Iranian Arab journalist Yosef Azizi Banitrouf, who was arrested in a raid on his home on 25 April. It also demanded the release of dissident journalist Reza Alijani,
expressing “great concern” about his deteriorating health after two
years in prison. “We strongly deplore the arrest of Banitrouf, who was
simply expressing his personal opinion in articles and in interviews
given to other newspapers,” it said. “As soon as a journalist speaks
out in Iran, the authorities crack down, either by closing the paper
concerned or throwing the journalist in prison. There are now 12
journalists and cyber-dissidents in jail in Iran, which remains the
Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists.” Reporters Without Borders

UZBEKISTAN

Reporters Without Borders
has written to interior minister Zakir Almatov to express its horror at
a severe beating doled out to independent journalist and human rights
activist Ulugbek Khaidarov.
“We call on the authorities to quickly conduct a transparent,
exhaustive and independent investigation,” it added. Khaidarov was
hospitalized with a broken collarbone and two broken ribs after being
attacked by an unidentified individual near his home in Jizzakh. It
appears to be directly linked to articles he wrote with Jamshid
Karimov, the nephew of President Islam Karimov, which were published on
opposition websites. They criticised the treatment Jizzakh’s peasant
farmers receive from the local authorities, who harass them, seize
their crops and keep the most fertile land for themselves. Reporters
Without Borders

COLOMBIA

Gilberto Martínez Prado,
director of Colmundo Radio’s news programme, has received the latest in
a series of death threats in the southern city of Ibagué (Tolima).

Arriving at the station he found a “sufragio”

– a note written
like a traditional sympathy card – which read: “Continue criticising,
you’re doing very well, you big son of a bitch, hide behind your
microphone that makes you a big shot, but, just wait, ‘malparido’
[literally, a defective or aborted foetus], everyone winds up in the
cemetery.” In recent weeks the journalist has alleged financial
mismanagement at a national savings institution and questioned the
conduct of a former member of Congress.

Threats against him began
in January 2003, after he condemned on his programme the assassination
of his friend Felix Martínez Ramírez, vice-president of a network of
citizens’

watchdog bodies. The government’s journalists’
protection programme concluded there was a latent but manageable threat
against him and provided him with two bodyguards and an armoured
vehicle. FLIP/IFEX

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Mai Mai militiamen seized six Congolese journalists on 24 April and
were holding them in the port of Kilumbe, Upper Lomami district.

The journalists had gone to the area to cover the disarmament of militias in Katanga province. Adam Shemisi,
a reporter with the station Tropicana, managed to escape. He named the
detainees as Jean-Marie Mususa, of the Congolese News Agency (Agence
congolaise de presse, Kinshasa), Pierrot Nsenga and Léon Kabasele, of
RTNC/Lubumbashi, Freddy Mwanza, a cameraman with Raga TV, and Scott
Mayemba, of the Kinshasa-based newspaper Uhuru. Minister Ngoy Mulunda began negotiations on 26 April aimed at ensuring their prompt release. AllAfrica.com

SOUTH AFRICA

Journalist Charlene Smith
being sued by three HIV-positive women for identifying them in a book
she wrote about a politician – has been tearfully defending herself in
Johannesburg High Court. Lawyer Daniel Berger put it to Smith that when
she disclosed their private facts to the world without their consent,
“you caused them incalculable pain and trampled their dignity”. Smith
replied: “If I had believed these people hadn’t given consent, I
wouldn’t have used their names.” The women are claiming damages from
Smith, politician Patricia de Lille and publisher New Africa Books. News24

THE PHILIPPINES

A suspect, thought to have been a lookout during the killing of Tacurong journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat
has surrendered to police. Four others have been charged with her
murder, and police say one of them has accused a former official with
the Department of Agriculture – removed from office following one of
Esperat’s anticorruption stories – of arranging the crime with his
wife. Esperat, a columnist of Sultan Kudarat-based newspaper The Midland Review, was the third journalist murdered this year in the Philippines and the 66th killed since democracy was restored in 1986. Philippines Sun Star

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