Daily Archives: April 18, 2019

Authoritarian Leaders Fuel Hatred Toward Journalists Worldwide, Study Finds

A report released Thursday concludes disdain for journalists throughout the world has increased during the past year, due primarily to the behavior of authoritarian leaders.

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index report, conducted by Reporters Without Borders, said “authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media,” resulting in a “hatred of journalists” that has “degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear.”

The United States’ ranking in the annual index of press freedom declined for the third time in three years, a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s regular threats to reporters and his inflammatory remarks about the media, the report said.

The U.S. ranked 48th among the 180 nations and territories that were surveyed, maintaining a descent that started in 2016. For the first time since the report started in 2002, the United States was included in a category of countries where the treatment of journalists is described as “problematic.”

The report said while a deterioration of the press freedom climate in the U.S. predated Trump’s presidency, the first year of his time in office “has fostered further decline in journalists’ right to report.” The report cited Trump’s repeated declarations of the news media as an “enemy of the American people,” attempts to deny White House access to “multiple media outlets,” regular use of the term “fake news” in retaliation to critical reporting, and calls to revoke the broadcasting licenses of “certain media outlets.”

It noted that hatred toward reporters prompted a gunman to murder four journalists and another employee last June at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland just east of Washington. The gunman had mental health issues and was angry with the newspaper for reporting about his pleading guilty to criminal harassment in 2011. “Amid one of the American journalism community’s darkest moments, President Trump continued to spout his notorious anti-press rhetoric, disparaging and attacking the media at a national level,” the report said.

European countries once again occupied most of the spots at the top of the index. Norway topped the list for the third consecutive year, followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark. The United Kingdom ranked 33rd, rising seven spots since last year. But the report said the U.K. “remained one of the worst-performing countries in Western Europe,” noting its more favorable ranking was due to the sharp deterioration of press freedom in other countries.

The countries at the bottom of the list were dominated by Asian countries. Turkmenistan ranked 180, topped by North Korea, Eritrea, China and Vietnam in ascending order.

The Americas experienced the most pronounced regional deterioration worldwide, primarily due to the decline of the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The European Union and the Balkans registered the second largest regional deterioration, followed by the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

The findings are based on responses to an 87-question survey that assesses pluralism, media independence and censorship in each country. Government policy was not evaluated. Responses were provided by media representatives, sociologists and attorneys around the world. Their feedback was integrated into a database of reported abuses and violent acts against journalists.

Source: Voice of America

Two suspects arrested for possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition as well as possession of drugs in Worcester

WESTERN CAPE On 17 April 2019 at 23:00, the members of the Worcester SAPS Crime Prevention Unit were busy to execute a search warrant at a premises in Sampson Street, Riverview, Worcester after information was received of an alleged firearm that was hidden on the premises.

Upon arrival at the scene, SAPS members saw two men running towards a caravan where they both tried to conceal something thereunder. Members stopped them both simultaneously and took out the items that they tried to co conceal. Suspect one was found in his attempt to cover a black .38 Special Taurus revolver, five .38 Special rounds, eight 7.65 rounds, two 9mm rounds and one 7.62 round.

The second suspect tried to conceal a plastic bag at the side of the same caravan in the backyard. The member put his hand in the hole and found the plastic bag with the following inside: 73 whole mandrax tablets, 105 tik straws and 307 small bags with tik and a plastic bag filled with loose tik. The total weight of the tik is 284 grams.

The items were seized and the two suspects, who are both gang members were arrested.

Source: South African Police Service

Sudan’s Social Media Deemed Major Player in Bashir’s Ouster

WASHINGTON Ousted President Omar al-Bashir and his government restricted popular social media platforms during protests against his government, but millions of Sudanese found ways to circumvent the restrictions and rally others to protest peacefully.

On the night of April 8, just three days before Bashir would be deposed, Sudanese native Sara el-Hassan had her eyes glued to Facebook and Twitter. Live video from Khartoum was streamed to her computer screen at her home in Phoenix, Arizona, and information was flowing through her Twitter timeline.

Social media was the most effective way for her to connect with fast-moving developments back home. El-Hassan said it kept Sudanese inside and outside the country connected, but it also kept them safe and informed.

“I don’t think this revolution would have happened without social media, in my personal opinion. It has been an integral part of the resistance movement, whether it be through sharing information, coordinating, people coming together to sharing the news of what is happening on the ground and getting it to be covered by news outlets,” el-Hassan told South Sudan in Focus.

Platforms blocked

NetBlocks.org, a social media monitoring platform, reported during the course of Sudan’s revolution that social media platforms were continuously blocked in Sudan even as the protests intensified. Users defied the ban by using virtual private network internet circumvention tools.

Last Thursday, NetBlocks reported Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media platforms were fully restored the same day the military announced Bashir’s ouster.

Social media proved to be crucial because the state had a tight grip on conventional forms of media, according to some local journalists. With a ranking of 175 out of 180, Sudan is one of the least free countries globally, according to this year’s World Press Freedom index. Reporters without Borders, which published the index, said journalists and media were among the “leading victims” of the crackdown during antigovernment protests since December.

In January, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Sudan’s government revoked credentials for six foreign journalists, a move CPJ said was an attempt to “muzzle the press” during the period of unrest.

Alternative ways

Alawia Muktar, a journalist in Sudan, said the former government’s repression of the press meant journalists like her had to find alternative ways to receive and disseminate information.

“The social media played a very big role in the Sudanese uprising-revolution because Sudan’s main media were blocked to report about the protest. Even the international media were not allowed to report,” Muktar told South Sudan in Focus.

Translations from Arabic were also done in real time by native Arabic speakers on Twitter and Facebook in order to share developments to a wider audience. Sudanese Translators for Change translated Tweets and Facebook messages to inform organizers and the world at large.

Social media was also used to combat fake news or misinformation, according to Isma’il Kushkush, a Sudanese reporter and former acting East Africa bureau chief of The New York Times. He said this time, it was also used for security purposes.

“It used to be that many activists would approach the usage of social media without paying much attention to the importance of security, and that is how many were tracked down in previous years. This time, there was greater attention to the importance of maintaining security,” Kushkush told South Sudan in Focus.

Greater freedom

Since the military announced the end of Bashir’s rule last week, many Sudanese have said they are already enjoying greater freedom, including freedom of expression. El-Hassan said she hopes this is the new normal.

“Sudan has been living in darkness. The NCP regime, the Bashir regime, has really capitalized on disconnecting Sudan from the rest of the world. No one really knows who we are or what we’re going through, except for the little snippets that make their way out. But day to day, nobody really knows the reality of Sudanese people’s lives,” El-Hassan told VOA.

The fight for a free and inclusive Sudan continues, according to el-Hassan, who said the revolution is not just about ousting the government, but about overhauling Sudanese society.

Source: Voice of America

PRESIDING OFFICERS OF PARLIAMENT WISH SOUTH AFRICANS A SAFE EASTER

Thursday, The Presiding Officers of Parliament wish all South Africans a safe Easter period.

The majority of South Africans Christians and this is a time of reflection and revival by Christians on their convictions on the resurrection of Christ by attending and traveling to different place of worship. It is also period for families and friends from far and near to spend time together.

During this period, high traffic volumes are experienced on the roads mostly leading to fatal accidents. To all those traveling, do exercise caution on the road, remain vigilant at all times, adhere to the rules of the road and be tolerant of fellow road users.

This year, Easter is celebrated at a critical time in the history of South Africa’s maturing constitutional democracy as we are marching gracefully and peacefully as a nation to our 6th national and provincial elections. We encourage and urge all worshipers to stand in prayer with the nation for peaceful elections.

We wish all South Africans safe and peaceful long weekend.

Source: Parliament