Rights experts warned that these practices undermine not only the fundamental human rights of the reporters themselves, but also the public’s right to receive and impart information.
Jennifer Leahy/Facebook via AP/File
‘Fake news charges vs journalists increasing worldwide’
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Governments around the world are increasingly charging journalists who contradict official statements as purveyors of “fake news,” the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Saturday.

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the CPJ, a United States-based non-government organization promoting press freedom and advocating for the rights of journalists worldwide, underscored the reality that journalists are regularly threatened, attacked, killed and imprisoned in record numbers around the world.

Rights experts warned that these practices undermine not only the fundamental human rights of the reporters themselves, but also the public’s right to receive and impart information.

They denounced the record number of jailed journalists which, at the end of 2017, stands at 262, including over 70 in Turkey, 40 in China and 20 in Egypt, according to the CPJ.

The organization said about 52 percent of those jailed were put behind bars because of their reporting on human rights violations.

A May 2018 report by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – mandated to safeguard the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists – states that “arbitrary imprisonment of journalists, which fosters self-censorship and impinges on the public’s right to access information, has reportedly continued to rise, although many governments have maintained that particular journalists have been imprisoned for reasons unrelated to their journalistic work.”

“Governments around the world routinely use emergency laws to censor media outlets and publications,” CPJ executive director Joel Simon said.

“Increasingly they also bring ‘fake news’ charges against journalists who contradict official statements. They try journalists in military courts, they hold them in pre-trial detention indefinitely,” he added.

These, according to Simon, “are all actions that contradict international human rights law, and the standards set by the UN.”

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the “freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The universality of this provision was reinforced in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In 2013, the UN General Assembly declared Nov. 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which is increasingly observed around the world.

CPJ’s side event at the UN headquarters highlighted in particular five cases of journalists currently imprisoned, including Alaa Abdelfattah from Egypt and Azimjon Askarov from Kyrgyzstan, who were both arrested while covering alleged human rights abuses by security forces; Shahidul Alam from Bangladesh, who was imprisoned while covering student protests; and the high profile case of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS FAKE NEWS UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
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