US Opinion and Commentary

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Freedom of the Press

Posted May 3rd, 2016 at 2:04 pm (UTC-4)
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Freedom of the press is one of the foundation rights of the American people; the first of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It wasn’t until 1993, 202 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified, that the United Nations declared that access to information is a fundamental right of everyone. Ensuring the fundamental right to information is a continuing battle. The Committee to Protect Journalists says 10 journalists have been killed so far this year. 199 journalists were imprisoned for their work in 2015. Amnesty International highlights nine journalists who have been jailed or killed for doing their jobs. Reporters Without Borders has launched a “Great Year for Censorship” campaign to focus attention on the world’s most repressive regimes for press freedom. Freedom House says press freedom is at its lowest point in 12 years, with 46 percent of the world’s population living in countries whose media is not free. Today in Bangkok, after a reporter shouted “Freedom of the press is freedom of the people,” Thailand’s Prime Minister turned, pointed at the reporter and said “Watch yourself.”

“We Are Appalled…”

Posted September 4th, 2015 at 12:57 pm (UTC-4)
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Another blow to press freedom was leveled this week when Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison by a court in Baku. She was found guilty of criminal libel, tax evasion, illegal business activity and abuse of power. Most observers say she was guilty of doing her job. Ismayilova’s reporting for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty exposed corruption by Azerbaijani Presidennt Ilham Aliyev and his family. Jeff Shell, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees RFERL and Voice of America, denounced the Azerbaijani government for demonstrating “to the international community that it disdains press freedom, supports its own impunity and has little regard for human rights.” The State Department said it was “deeply troubled” by the sentencing and urged Azerbaijan to release Ismayilova and other incarcerated journalists.

Letter from Azerbaijani Jail: Khadija Ismayilova Speaks Out

Posted June 12th, 2015 at 9:21 am (UTC-4)
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The eyes of the world are on my country, my beloved Azerbaijan, as it hosts the inaugural European Games, beginning on Friday … But I will not see the games … I am sitting in my cell in the Kurdakhani prison — my home for the past six months.