Reporting Human Rights Abuses Is Not a Crime

Twenty-four years ago, the search for a way out of the unending violent conflict in Colombia saw a significant moment of hope. On 23 March 1997, 1,350 displaced farmers gathered in the remote village of San José de Apartadó in the north-western province of Antioquia to join together and form a peace community. After paramilitaries had roamed the region pillaging and massacring, the local community declared itself neutral in the war, rejecting weapons, drugs, alcohol and cooperation with any armed group. With their community, the people of San José have shown other communities in the country how to break the victim-perpetrator cycle and to build communal alternatives of nonviolence, solidarity and autonomy outside of the dominant culture.

The armed groups made the peace community of San José de Apartadó pay a huge price for their radical decision. Since 1997, more than 200 of its members, including most of the community’s leaders, have been killed, largely at the hands of paramilitary and national armed forces. Few of the crimes have ever been prosecuted. The exemplary effect of the community’s model of autonomy and independence has been seen as a grave threat to the powerful multinational interests driving lucrative mining and agricultural projects in the country. As the former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe openly admitted, the peace community is despised because it stands “in the way of development.”

Since the demobilisation of the FARC-Ep guerrilla in 2017, the pressure and threats against the Peace Community have increased as paramilitaries have expanded their influence in

— source | Apr 20, 2021

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Social media makes it difficult to identify real news

The study found that people viewing a blend of news and entertainment on a social media site tended to pay less attention to the source of content they consumed — meaning they could easily mistake satire or fiction for real news. People who viewed content that was clearly separated into categories — such as current affairs and entertainment — didn’t have the same issues evaluating the source and credibility of content they read.

The findings show the dangers of people getting their news from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. We are drawn to these social media sites because they are one-stop shops for media content, updates from friends and family, and memes or cat pictures. But that jumbling of content makes everything seem the same to us. It makes it harder for us to distinguish what we need to take seriously from that which is only entertainment.

The study appears online in the journal New Media & Society.

The results showed that when the content was not grouped by distinct topics — in other words, news posts appeared on the same page with entertainment posts — participants

— source Ohio State University | Mar 30, 2020

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Journalists Being Reduced to Just Stenographers to Power

Sharply criticising the state of mainstream journalism in the country today, P Sainath, veteran agrarian journalist and founder of Peoples’ Archive of Rural India highlighted the 200th anniversary of Indian journalism.

On social media platform Twitter, he wrote: “This week marks the 200th anniversary of the great tradition of Indian journalism – the opposite of the petty one that has ruled our media for 30-40 years. Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the newspaper Mirat-ul-Akhbar on April 12, 1822.”

Laying the context further, he said “He had of course launched the Bengali paper Sambad Kaumudi in November 1821, but it was not his name that appeared as publisher for a while. With Mirat ul Akhbar he explained his political and social views quite explicitly to an educated elite.”

Ram Mohan Roy (May 22, 1772 – September 27, 1833) was an Indian reformer who was one of the founders of the Brahmo Sabha in 1828, the precursor of the Brahmo Samaj, a social-

— source | 16 Apr 2022

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Hungarian journalists targeted with Pegasus spyware to sue state

Hungarian journalists targeted with Pegasus spyware plan to take legal action against the Hungarian state and the Israeli company NSO, which manufactures the tool. The Pegasus Project, a consortium of news outlets including the Guardian, revealed last summer that forensic analysis of mobile devices showed that a number of journalists in the country had been targeted with Pegasus. in November a senior government official acknowledged for the first time that Hungary had indeed acquired Pegasus. Now the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) has announced it will launch legal action on behalf of six clients

— source | 28 Jan 2022

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Open letter to the Chief Justice of India

Dear Chief Justice of India,

Thank you for your most pertinent observation that “the concept of investigative journalism is unfortunately vanishing from the media canvas…When we were growing up, we eagerly looked forward to newspapers exposing big scandals. The newspapers never disappointed us.”

Rarely in recent times have truer words been said about the media. Thank you for remembering what was, if only briefly, your old fraternity. I went into journalism just months after you did when you joined Eenadu in 1979.

As you recalled in your recent speech at a book release function – in those heady days, we woke up and “eagerly looked forward to newspapers exposing big scandals.” Today we wake up, sir, to reports of journalists exposing those scandals being charged, even jailed, under draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) . Or even the appalling misuse, which you have recently strongly criticised, of laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) .

— source | P. Sainath | Dec. 23, 2021

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Efforts to silence journalists investigating financial crimes

Lawyers are using frivolous legal threats as a key tool to intimidate journalists investigating financial misconduct, according to a new report released by a British think tank today.

The “Unsafe for Scrutiny” report, released by the London-based Foreign Policy Centre, underscores the manifold threats facing journalists internationally who investigate financial misconduct. With responses from 63 journalists working in 43 countries, the survey found that the vast majority of respondents faced threats or harassment during the course of investigating corruption — with many reporters suffering significant impact on their ability to do their jobs.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shared the FPC’s survey with its members, and journalists from ICIJ’s network, which spans more than 260 reporters in more than 100 countries, feature heavily in the report.

“Large-scale transnational investigations, like those conducted by ICIJ, have provided explosive insights into how political and business elites, as well as organised crime

— source International Consortium of Investigative Journalists | Spencer Woodman | Nov 2, 2020

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Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

Julian Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October during the hearing for the US appeal of a UK court’s ruling on his extradition case.

“The WikiLeaks publisher, 50, who is being held on remand in the maximum-security jail while fighting extradition to America, was left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage,” The Daily Mail reports. “He believes the mini-stroke was triggered by the stress of the ongoing US court action against him, and an overall decline in his health as he faces his third Christmas behind bars.”

“Assange was examined by a doctor, who found a delayed pupil response when a light was shone into one eye – a sign of potential nerve damage,” the article reads.

“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Assange’s fiance Stella Moris told the Daily Mail.

— source | Caitlin Johnstone | 12 Dec 2021

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Journalists Investigating Financial Crimes Threatened by Global Elites

In November 2020 the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) released “Unsafe for Scrutiny,” a report about the threats faced by journalists investigating the financial misconduct that lets ‘dirty money’ flow through the world’s most powerful banks. As Spencer Woodman detailed in an article for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the report reveals that global elites have been abusing their intimidating legal and financial powers by targeting reporters with defamation lawsuits, “cease and desist” letters, social media smear campaigns, trolling, verbal harassment, and even occasionally physical violence. Yet, as Woodman underscored, the report concluded that legal threats “are chief among the types of harassment facing journalists conducting financial investigations.” The harassment faced by investigative journalists looking into financial crimes has a chilling effect on reporting about corruption and, ultimately, infringes the public’s right to know about the money laundering, bribery, theft of public funds, and other illicit acts carried out (or facilitated) by wealthy banks, government officials, and corporate leaders.

Sponsored in part by the Justice for Journalists Foundation, the FPC’s study was based on a survey of investigative reporters from all around the world, many of whom had worked on cross-border financial crime investigations such as the multi-year investigations into the financial records leaked in the Panama Papers or the FinCEN Files. Responses from 63 investigative journalists working in 41 countries indicated that a vast majority had faced threats and harassment during their investigations into financial crimes. Susan Coughtrie, project director at the Foreign Policy Centre, told Woodman that the large-scale transnational investigations conducted by these reporters exposed “explosive insights into how political and business elites, as well as organised crime groups, all over the world get away with financial crime and corruption.”

The report found that wealthy individuals and corporations involved in financial corruption often resort to legal action against underfunded investigative journalists as a tactic to thwart their research into corruption. These frivolous suits, known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs, are said to “create a similar chilling

— source | | Nov 9, 2021

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Police Investigating American Journalists

Yahoo News exposé about a secretive Customs and Border Protection unit that investigated as many as 20 journalists and their contacts by using government databases intended to track terrorists. Those investigated by CBP’s so-called Counter Network Division include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporter Martha Mendoza, along with others at The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Members of Congress and their staff may have also been targeted.

The explosive revelations are detailed in a 500-page report by the Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog unit, the Office of Inspector General. It opened the probe after news reports that a Border Patrol agent named Jeffrey Rambo conducted a leak investigation in 2017 by accessing government travel records of the reporter Ali Watkins, who was with Politico at the time and now works for The New York Times. Rambo also shared the information he gathered with the FBI.

In response to the report, the Justice Department declined to pursue criminal charges for misuse of government databases and lying to investigators, citing, quote, “the lack of

— source | Dec 14, 2021

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