Tag Archives: human-rights

Turkey – Will the EU let itself be humiliated over media freedom in Turkey?

On the eve of another European Union-Turkey summit about migration, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the EU to show all the necessary firmness in response to the attacks on media freedom in Turkey.

“The European Union must not settle for just reminding the Turkish authorities of the principles of media freedom,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “It must exercise all of its potential leverage. There can be no question of resuming EU accession talks while Ankara visibly tramples on basic European values. If the EU continues to yield to blackmail regarding migrants, it will give the impression of abandoning the principles on which it was founded.

“Until now, the European Union has demonstrated culpable weakness in response to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attacks on the media. But ‘business as usual’ would be incomprehensible after he seized control of the main opposition media group in such a brutal manner while Donald Tusk was in Ankara. Is the EU determined to let itself be humiliated?”

After a court issued an order for the authorities to take control of the opposition Zaman media group, the police stormed its headquarters on the night of 4 March and used teargas and water cannon against the hundreds of protesters outside. Zaman‘s management was then dismissed and the Zaman daily newspaper is now taking a pro-government line that borders on caricature.

Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s latest World Press Freedom Index.

O’odham Cut Border Fence Restricting Traditional Route

Photos copyright O’odham in Mexico

Do not repost without permission

O’odham in Mexico cut the fence on the border today, which restricted their traditional route. The fence went up at 10 a.m. yesterday and restricted O’odham access to health care and stores on the northern side of O’odham lands.

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By Ofelia Rivas
Censored News
Copyright Ofelia Rivas

United States – Donald Trump wants to sue newspapers for publishing “purposely negative stories”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by Donald Trump’s latest campaign promise to sue newspapers for publishing stories that are “purposely negative.”

At a rally Friday in Fort Worth, Texas, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged that he would reform United States libel laws so that “when the New York Times or the Washington Post writes a hit piece, we can sue them.”

Under current American law, any public figure suing for libel must prove that a defamatory statement was made with actual malice, meaning that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had knowledge that the statement was false or had reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.

This standard of actual malice, established in the 1964 Supreme Court Decision New York Times v. Sullivan, is essential to the protection of press freedom in the United States. Placing the burden of proof on the plaintiff makes it very difficult for a government official to sue a newspaper for simply publishing a critical article.

Though Trump failed to specify exactly how he would “open up libel laws” to make suing newspapers more feasible, one possible reform could be to shift the burden of proof to the defendant.

Imagine if in America, the country of the First Amendment, newspapers were constantly taken to court for publishing articles questioning or criticizing the actions of public figures like government officials,” said Margaux Ewen, advocacy and communications officer for RSF’s U.S. office. “The fear of perpetual lawsuits would have a chilling effect on journalists’ ability to do their job and many newspapers would likely fold from the cost of defending lawsuits left and right.”

This is the latest incident where Donald Trump has made clear his disregard for freedom of the press. Previously, he has restricted media access to campaign events, insulted and bullied reporters who portray him negatively or ask him tough questions, and refused to participate in a republican debate because FoxNews refused to remove its reporter Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

Trump’s actions during the run up to the 2016 presidential election mark an alarming trend of curtailing freedom of the press in the United States. Since 2013, the U.S.’s ranking on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index has fallen by 14 points. It is now ranked 49 out of 180 countries.