Myanmar reporters among '10 most urgent' cases of press freedom violations

Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been sentenced to seven years in jail in Myanmar, were on Friday included in a list of 10 most urgent cases of journalists whose global press freedoms are being abused or whose situations demand justice.

Detained Reuters journalist Wa Lone leaves the court in Yangon, Myanmar August 27, 2018. REUTERS/Ann Wang

The list, which will be updated each month, was put together by the One Free Press Coalition, a new group formed by leading news organizations to spotlight journalists under attack globally.

The group’s founding members include Reuters, The Associated Press, Forbes and Time.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were convicted under Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act following their investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in Rakhine state. Follow updates on the case.

The “10 Most Urgent” list, provided by the coalition, includes the following journalists in no specific order:

Maria Ressa and Rappler (The Philippines)

Arrest and legal threats for the critical media outlet

National Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Ressa at Rappler’s bureau on February 1 over a cyber libel case filed against her by the Justice Department. She was released the next day, but Rappler still faces separate retaliatory tax charges.

Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia)

Justice denied for murdered Saudi journalist

Nearly five months after his brutal murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul and findings from the CIA that point to the Saudi Crown Prince’s involvement, there has been no independent UN criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release the intelligence report have gone unheeded along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the Global Magnitsky Act.

Eman Al Nafjan (Saudi Arabia)

Imprisoned women’s rights blogger

Eman Al Nafjan, founder of the Saudiwoman’s Weblog, was sent to prison in relation to her reporting on the fight for women to have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, elections and profiles of human rights activists. She is one of 16 Saudi journalists behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ most recent census of imprisoned journalists.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Myanmar)

Reuters journalists imprisoned under Official Secrets Act

Convicted under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act following their investigation into a security force massacre of Rohingya men and boys in western Rakhine State. Their appeal was rejected in January and the final appeal will take place at the end of the month.

Claudia Duque (Colombia)

Human rights defender endures attacks in Columbia where impunity remains 98.81%

The veteran investigative reporter has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture and has been exiled. Courts convicted three high-ranking officers of the Colombian security services for torturing Claudia and her daughter. As of January 2019, all the detainees were released.

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed (Mauritania)

Blogger in jail for commentary on religion

Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed was arrested in 2014 for an article he wrote criticizing the Mauritanian caste system. Initially charged with a death sentence, the apostasy charges have been dropped, but he still remains behind bars, with limited contact to his family and the outside world.

Anna Nimiriano (South Sudan)

Only female newspaper editor in South Sudan, lives under constant threat

As editor of the Juba Monitor, Anna Nimiriano fights to keep her colleagues out of jail for their reporting, and has in the past been ordered by the government to shut down the paper. She perseveres despite arrest threats and constant censorship against she and her colleagues.

Pelin Unker (Turkey)

Paradise Papers reporting leads to jail sentence for Turkish reporter

Pelin Unker wrote a piece as part of the Paradise Papers in 2017 revealing offshore holdings of the family of then-Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yıldırım. As retribution, authorities have now given him a sentence of 13 months for insulting the prime minister.

Thomas Awah Junior (Cameroon)

Journalist jailed on anti-state and false news charges

Thomas Awah Junior, a correspondent for privately owned Afrik 2 Radio and publisher of Aghem Messenger magazine is serving an 11-year sentence in Cameroon on anti-state and false news charges. His health has declined sharply, and he was discharged from the hospital and returned to prison after mounting medical bills.

Tran Thi Nga (Vietnam)

Journalist accused of spreading propaganda

Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state.” She produced a number of videos critical of the state on topics like toxic spills and government corruption.