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Attacks on the press

Type of media freedom violation

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Arrest / Charges
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Access to information
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Censorship
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Emergency powers
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Verbal / physical attack

Regions

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Asia and Pacific
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Americas
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Europe
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MENA
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Africa

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the free flow of news and information is more essential than ever, ensuring open dialogue and the exchange of vital information. IPI is therefore closely monitoring press freedom restrictions in this exceptional situation.

Read why press freedom matters now.

#COVID19: Attacks on the press worldwide

PRESS FREEDOM VIOLATIONS LINKED TO COVID-19 CRISIS

April 3, 2020
Following Reuters report that the number of infections were much higher than the official figures, Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission on April 3 banned the international news agency from operating in the country for three months for. The Commission also said that Reuters has been fined $20,000 and asked for to apologise for the story, which has “put social security at risk”.
Iraq
April 3, 2020
Vietnam has passed a new law amidst the coronavirus outbreak which for the first time gives authorities powers to fine people for publishing or sharing what it deems to be “fake news” on social media. Authorities say the law is aimed at tackling both “falsehoods” related to the pandemic, but also wider forms of misinformation, worsening an already restrictive legal landscape for what remains of the country’s critical and independent media. The new rules, which will come into effect on April 15, will fine people who post or share “fake news” about COVID-19 between €390-€775.
Vietnam
April 2, 2020
Nunurai Jena, a reporter for the Newsday and Voice of America was arrested by the Zimbabwe Police and is being detained at Chinhoyi police station for using a 2019 accreditation to report about the Covod-19 cases. The arrest took place despite Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services instructing the police to accept the 2019 accreditation cards.
Zimbabwe
April 2, 2020
More than 60 journalists are currently being detained in different Egyptian prisons, which are overcrowded and have woefully inadequate medical facilities. Prisoners do not have access to medical care.
Egypt
April 1, 2020
Serbian journalist Ana Lalic of online news portal Nova.rs was arrested and detained overnight for “spreading panic” and damaging the reputation of a clinical centre in the city of Vojvodina after she wrote an article about the lack of basic protective COVID-19 equipment available to its medical workers.
Serbia
April 1, 2020
A case has been registered by the police against the online publication The Wire in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly spreading hatred and animosity in the country by reporting about a religious event organized by the government amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was later cancelled.
India
April 1, 2020
Indian government urged the country’s Supreme Court on April 1 to pass an order stating that no information should be released by the media about Covid-19 pandemic without first ascertaining factual position from the government. It was the first attempt the government to censor news about the pandemic, which failed as the Court refused to pass such an order.
India
April 1, 2020
Officials of the Delta State Task Force on Environment attacked Michael Ikeogwu, chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Mathew Omonighoe, correspondent of the Daily Post as they were covering the COVID-19 lockdown. The two journalists were in the Uvwie Local Government Area of the state to monitor the stay-at-home order by the government when they were stopped by the task force officials and assaulted. Omonighoe reportedly had his Nikon D3100 camera destroyed.
Nigeria
April 1, 2020
Russia has stepped up its efforts against so-called “fake news” about the coronavirus, approving fines of up to $25,000 and prison terms of up to five years for anyone who spreads what is deemed to be false information. Media outlets will be fined up to $127,000 if they disseminate disinformation about the outbreak.
Russia
April 1, 2020
Reporters and the head of the journalist union in Serbia have criticized what they call the “covert censorship” of information relating to the COVID-19 outbreak and highlighted the challenges faced by journalists to accessing accurate and updated information.
Serbia

PRESS FREEDOM VIOLATIONS LINKED TO COVID-19 CRISIS

March 31, 2020
Mary Ellen Klas, a journalist at the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times, was denied entry to the press briefing of Florida governor Ron DeSantis after she requested for social distancing to be observed during the briefing.
US
March 31, 2020
Iran’s Coronavirus Combat Taskforce issued an emergency decree which suspended all printing, delivery, and distribution of newspapers in the country, citing the need to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iran
March 31, 2020
A trainee journalist, Tatenda Julius, working for Tungwe news in Zimbabwe was arrested by the police for covering the lockdown. He was taking photos when police nabbed him for working without accreditation. Efforts by the news outlet and MISA Zimbabwe failed to get him released
Zimbabwe
March 31, 2020
Mezopotamya News Agency correspondent Ahmet Kanbal faces a new investigation for reporting on COVID-19 positive children being held in the same hospital unit with other kids in Mardin Public Hospital.
Turkey
March 31, 2020
Kurdish journalist, writer and activist Nurcan Baysal was summoned by the police on March 30 to testify for sharing prisoners’ letters and two articles on the novel coronavirus pandemic. Baysal was released after giving her testimony.
Turkey
March 31, 2020
A local journalist for the outlet Van Haberdar, Oktay Candemir, was called to testify for his social media posts on the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Candemir has been previously targeted by judicial authorities for his work, with 25 cases opened in the last 2 years.
Turkey
March 30, 2020
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have excluded 20 different independent media outlets from receiving special press passes which allow them exemption from lockdown rules, giving them instead only to state-run media.
Kyrgyzstan
March 30, 2020
The autocratic ex-Soviet nation of Turkmenistan led by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has banned the media from using the word “coronavirus.” People wearing face masks or talking about the coronavirus are also liable to be arrested by plainclothes police.
Turkmenistan
March 30, 2020
Cambodia has drafted a new emergency law that will come into effect on Friday April 3. The law will give more powers to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has already closed down independent media in the country.
Cambodia
March 30, 2020
A senior journalist, Kudzanai Musengi, was detained in the Gweru Central Business District as he went to cover the lockdown. The detention took place despite clear instructions from the government that all accreditation has been extended. MISA Zimbabwe intervened get the journalist released.
Zimbabwe
March 30, 2020
MPs voted to pass new legislation handing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sweeping new powers to rule by decree and tighten his control over the country’s media amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The new law criminalizes the spreading of misinformation deemed to undermine the authorities’ fight against the COVID-19 virus with fines and up to five years in prison
Hungary
March 30, 2020
Police in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh registered a case against a journalist for falsely reporting on his social media account that buses were being sent to pick up stranded people
India
March 28, 2020
Ralph Zapata, regional editor of OjoPúblico, was detained by police in the town of Piura after being accused of violating the coronavirus lockdown. Zapata was coordinating the outlet’s regional coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both he and his employer deny the allegations.
Peru
March 28, 2020
Police registered a case against a journalist for attending the press conference on March 20 of the then chief Minister of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, two days after the journalist’s daughter had returned from the UK. A few days later the journalist and his daughter tested positive for Covid-19.
India
March 28, 2020
A TV cameraman working for Weru TV was attacked by three policemen as he covered government officials enforcing social distancing at Mitunguu market, Imenti South, Meru County. Police officials asked the journalist to delete the footage.
Kenya
March 28, 2020
Egypt’s media council has ramped up its efforts to censor information, block websites and prosecute social media users as part of its efforts to tackle what it deems to be “fake news” over the Covid-19 pandemic – sparking fears from journalists over a widening crackdown on independent media.
Egypt
March 27, 2020
A TV cameraman of Nation Media Group was assaulted by police officials in the Coast Region of Kenya, while covering police action against the residents after the announcement of lockdown in Kenya. The local police chief later apologized for the attack.
Kenya
March 27, 2020
President Duterte’s emergency regulations are preventing independent media from covering official briefings on Covid-19 in the country. Only official media are allowed to attend the briefings. Independent media can join through video conferencing and submit their questions to the moderator before the briefing starts. This effectively bars independent media from seeking clarifications after the briefing.
Philippines
March 26, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump accused the media of siding with China. He made the remarks at the White House daily Covid-19 Task Force briefing on Thursday.
U.S.
March 26, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump has accused the media of trying to keep the U.S. economy shuttered during the Covid-19 pandemic to hinder his re-election in the November presidential election.
U.S.
March 26, 2020
A journalist and a cameraperson with KTV station in Zrenjanin, Serbia, were arrested and held behind bars for one day after allegedly refusing to get disinfected when they were about to question local authorities at an administrative building. According to the journalists, they were wearing the proper masks and gloves at the time and were ejected by security in order to keep them away from a local mayor they wanted to interview
Serbia
March 26, 2020
The Guardian journalist Ruth Michaelson was forced by the Egyptian authorities to leave the country. Michaelson’s credentials were revoked on March 17, after she wrote a story about the possible spread of Covid-19 in the country. The government had asked The Guardian to retract the story or publish an apology.
Egypt
March 26, 2020
Seven journalists were injured when police assaulted them at a security checkpoint in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh
India
March 25, 2020
The prime minister of Thailand announced declared a state of emergency in the country until April 30. The declaration allows the government to shut down media outlets accused of spreading “fake news”.
Thailand
March 25, 2020
Melquiades Avila, an indigenous leader and journalist in the remote Venezuelan state of Delta Amacuro, has gone into hiding following threats of arrest made by the Maduro administration after he questioned the government’s ability to deal with Covid-19 in the country
Venezuela
March 25, 2020
A female journalist from NewsOne TV channel in Ukraine was assaulted during a journalistic investigation into the illegal selling of protective coronavirus masks in the city of Krasiyliv. She was injured and needed treatment on her hand.
Ukraine
March 25, 2020
Journalists covering a Covid-19 story were assaulted in Trinidad and Tobago. V6 video journalist Cindy Raghubar-Teekasingh and Che Teekasingh were in a car park recording footage of a Covid-19 screening area when they were accosted by guards.
Trinidad and Tobago
March 25, 2020
Oman has ordered stopping the printing of newspapers, magazines and publications of all kinds and preventing their circulation as a measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Oman
March 25, 2020
Authorities in Iran have swiftly and aggressively pushed ahead to silence independent reporting on the Covid-19 epidemic by harassing, detaining and censoring journalists and social media users. In at least one case, a journalist was forced to retract comments made on social media.
Iran
March 25, 2020
Turkey journalist Tugay Can is accused of “creating fear and panic amongst public” over Covid-19 news coverage.
Turkey
March 25, 2020
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte today signed a bill that gives him special powers. These powers include imposing prison sentence of two months or a maximum fine of approximately US $ 19,500 for spreading “fake news” about Covid-19.
Philippines
March 25, 2020
Navin Kumar, a journalist working for Aaj Tak, a leading TV network in India, was assaulted by police officers while he was on his way to work in the capital New Delhi on March 24. Kumar said that his identity card and car keys were snatched from him and he was forced into a police vehicle
India
March 25, 2020
Kaka Touda, an independent journalist who publishes news reports on his Facebook and Twitter pages, In Niger’s capital Niamey, was arrested for his social media post about a suspected Coronavirus case in a local hospital, which filed a complaint against him. The hospital said in the complaint that the March 4 social media post posed a threat to law and order
Niger
March 24, 2020
Dragos Vicol, president of Moldova’s Audiovisual Council, the country’s chief media regulatory body, issued a decree ordering media in Moldova to refrain from printing or broadcasting ‘opinion’ and to convey only the position of authorities during a state of emergency imposed to aid the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was met with a storm of criticism from journalists and media associations
Moldova
March 24, 2020
The government of the north-eastern state of Parimbo in Brazil has introduced fines of up to R$10,000 (€1770) for anyone sharing “false news” about the new coronavirus pandemic
Brazil
March 24, 2020
The Romanian government has passed a number of emergency decrees that effect freedom of expression and access to information and allow authorities to issue take-down orders on articles and websites accused of spreading “false information” about the pandemic
Romania
March 24, 2020
Journalists and health professionals were assaulted by the police who were manning barricades to prevent people from leaving their homes as part of the curfew imposed by the State Government
India
March 24, 2020
Journalists are being forced to delete their social media posts, while media outlets are asked to delete their webposts
Armenia
March 24, 2020
A photojournalist working for Italian newspaper La Stampa was surrounded by a crowd of people, harassed and had his SD card stolen while documenting a protest over coronavirus restrictions at a local market in Turin
Italy
March 24, 2020
Journalist threatened by a private construction company worker for filming violation of curfew
Albania
March 23, 2020
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued a Provisional Measure that suspends deadlines for requests made via the country’s Access to Information Law (LAI) due to the extreme circumstances of the coronavirus. The Supreme Federal Court (STF) suspended the amendment
Brazil
March 23, 2020
A reporting crew from TV station Red Bolivisión reported being verbally harassed and blocked from leaving an indoor market by shopkeepers who they had filmed breaching quarantine rules. The journalists were only released after police arrived
Bolivia
March 23, 2020
CNN Turkey barred its field reporters from entering the newsroom building to “limit” interactions amid COVID19
Turkey
March 23, 2020
Authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina introduced punitive new measures against spreading panic and “fake news” regarding the coronavirus outbreak, in a move that could impede the free work of journalists and their ability to report on the pandemic
Bosnia-Herzegovina
March 23, 2020
The Armenian government ordered 22 different media outlets to remove or edit what it considers to be misleading or incorrect information about the coronavirus
Armenia
March 23, 2020
Two journalists working for the Livorno edition of Italian newspaper Il Tirreno were insulted and threatened with a metal rod by newsagent after they tried to interview him in his kiosk about life under coronavirus measures
Italy
March 23, 2020
The crew was punched and kicked by two people as they interviewed citizens buying food
Kosovo
March 22, 2020
President Jair Bolsonaro has deepened his attack on the media by accusing the press of purposefully “tricking” citizens about the dangers of coronavirus and purposefully amplifying protests in a bid to topple his government
Brazil
March 22, 2020
Journalist Tholi Totali Glody working for Alfajri TV in DRC sustained multiple physical injuries when he was run over by a police vehicle while reporting on Covid-19 cases in Likasi
DRC
March 22, 2020
Police allegedly asked journalist to reveal sources on recent article about statistics on number of COVID-19 cases in his region
Venezuela
March 20, 2020
Several Russian media outlets faced penalties after federal regulators invoked the nation’s newly enacted law against “fake news” to censor reports about the coronavirus pandemic
Russia
March 20, 2020
The Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) has used emergency laws to order internet providers to block access to 52 different websites that allegedly disseminate fake news about the coronavirus pandemic, heightening concerns that censorship measures could extend to target critical media
Moldova
March 20, 2020
Journalists Mustafa Ahmet Oktay and Eren Sarıkaya from Bartın-based Halk Newspaper and Pusula Newspaper were taken into custody over a report published about the spread of COVID-19
Turkey
March 19, 2020
Independent media claim that official briefings on COVID-19 outbreak are accessible to only those media outlets that are owned by the President Daniel Ortega’s family
Nicaragua
March 18, 2020
On March 18, the Press Information Service of Egypt announced that it had withdrawn the accreditation of Michaelson following a report in The Guardian that it claimed did not meet the required journalistic standards
Egypt
March 18, 2020
A statement issued by the Chinese foreign ministry said that the decision to expel journalists with U.S. citizenship working for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal was in response to the U.S. government’s “outrageous” action in December 2018 to designate Chinese media outlets as foreign missions and in February this year to impose a limit on their number of employees
China
March 17, 2020
Jordan’s King Abdullah approved an emergency “defense law” which hands Prime Minister Omar Razzaz sweeping powers to enforce a state of emergency and “deal firmly” with anyone who spreads “rumours, fabrications and false news that sows panic” about COVID-19. The law does not appear to have time limits
Jordan
March 15, 2020
In Serbia, where the government already holds a strong grip on the country’s media, President Aleksandar Vučić declared a state of emergency and approved surveillance and phone tracking measures, raising concerns among the country’s media association that the powers could be used against journalists
Serbia
March 15, 2020
Slovenian investigative journalist Blaž Zgaga received threats after he was targeted in a smear article by news portal and TV station Nova24TV for submitting a detailed request for information to the government about its handling of the COVID-19 crisis and its establishment of a now dismantled “crisis headquarters”
Slovenia
March 13, 2020
Prime Minister Edi Rama sent the citizens an intrusive voice message through Vodafone advising people to wash their hands against coronavirus and “protect themselves from the media”
Albania
March 1, 2020
Li Zehua is one of three citizen journalists missing and presumably detained by authorities in China for livestreaming and posting social media updates about the truth of life under coronavirus and government restrictions in China
China
February 22, 2020
Journalist Mohammad Mosaed arrested and detained by Iranian security forces after he criticized the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak on social media. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps interrogated Mosaed after he published a series of tweets accusing the government of failing to prepare for an outbreak. He was ordered not to conduct any interviews with media outlets about his detention.
Iran
February 19, 2020
According to reports, the expulsion is a response to an opinion piece published by the Journal on February 3. The article, which was entitled “China is the real sick man of Asia” and written by an American professor, criticized China’s response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak
China
February 5, 2020
Award winning journalist Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias was charged with three counts of causing public fear or alarm over her social media posts on the coronavirus outbreak
Malaysia