Interpress News Service

Flying Green in Bangladesh

3 May 2017 - 8:01pm

JAL747-400 bound for Tokyo leaves a contrail at dusk. Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5

By Sohara Mehroze Shachi
DHAKA, May 4 2017 (IPS)

New technology could be the answer to reducing negative climate impacts of aviation – one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gases. And a recent quantitative research at North South University (NSU) of Bangladesh has found that upgrading the existing navigation system will reduce fuel use, hence decreasing carbon emissions as well as costs.

Currently, aviation in Bangladesh, like that in many countries, depends on fixed Ground-Based Navigation sensors that guide aircraft along pre-established routes via waypoints. These are often not available in direct paths between airports, hence aircrafts have to take an indirect, inefficient path, burning more fuel.“Although this is a small spoke in the big wheel of climate change, it will be great if the general people and the stakeholders can know about such findings." --Ahnaf Ahmed

A new system named Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) has been developed which depends on satellite signals and computerized on-board systems, allowing flexible and optimum routing. This not only reduces costs, flight duration and infrastructure needs, but also contributes to mitigating climate change.

Many countries are in various stages of implementing PBN, and USA’s implementation is called the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. According to Leighton Quon of NextGen Systems Analysis, Integration, and Evaluation at NASA’s Ames Research Center, it will allow more efficient routes hence faster travel with fewer delays. This video shows how the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has started to use PBN for Super Bowl flights.

Bangladesh has drafted a PBN Implementation Roadmap following International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 2007 resolution on global implementation of PBN. A.K.M. Rezaul Karim, Public Relations Officer, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) said CAAB is seriously working on implementing Required Navigation Performance or RNP (a variety of PBN) and achievements have been made since the roadmap was prepared.

The team researching aviation emissions at North South University (NSU) of Bangladesh. (L-R) Research Assistant Sabrin Hossain, Principal Investigator Ahnaf Ahmed, Research Assistants Asiful Haque Latif Nobel and Md. Abdul Ahad Chowdhury pose for a photo while analyzing results. Credit: Sohara Mehroze Shachi/IPS

A.K.M. Faizul Haque, Deputy Director (Air Transport), Flight Safety and Regulations Division, CAAB, said RNP approach procedures have already been introduced for Dhaka airport’s runway 14 but local carriers don’t use them, whereas Emirates – a foreign career – uses RNP approach for landing. He added that Emirates helped CAAB establish runway 14’s RNP approach through validation and even allowed CAAB to use Emirates’ flight simulator in Dubai.

“Implementing RNP requires significant, time consuming efforts such as transforming geographical coordinates, infrastructural development and validation,” Haque said. “Progress might seem little so far but it is getting implemented gradually.”

However, Imran Asif, CEO of US-Bangla – one of the leading domestic airlines of Bangladesh – expressed his reservations about the ability of CAAB to implement PBN.

“Our airports don’t even have the most basic of equipment and the controllers lack training. The surveillance radar has not been upgraded in 40 years,” he said.

Asif stated that the commercial airlines are willing to adapt to PBN, but for that the primary groundwork needs to be done. “Infrastructure and human resource needs to be developed and regulations put in place first then operators like us can insert the curriculum in our manual and train our crew,” he added.

While the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) wants to implement PBN, it has not carried out or published any analysis of PBN in the domestic setting. Thus, the local stakeholders do not know exactly how much improvement can be achieved through PBN, or if there will be any improvement at all.

Bangladeshi airports and existing flightpaths (established with Ground-Based Navigation Aids).

To address this issue, Ahnaf Ahmed, a faculty member at North South University (NSU) and the lead researcher of the project “Satellite-Based Navigation in Civil Aviation: Performance Evaluation in the Context of Bangladesh” is using simulation and mathematical optimization to compare the two navigation systems under identical conditions, and find their extent of differences regarding flight duration, fuel burn, engine emissions, cost etc.

So far he has found that for Dash 8-Q400 aircraft RNP on average reduces 2.8 minutes in each flight to and from Dhaka and the other three cities, which means fuel consumption reduces by approximately 123.2 pounds per flight. In a year, this equates approximately to total fuel savings of 1.8 million pounds and CO2 emission reduction by approximately 4.9 million pounds.

Ahmed believes his findings can help policy-makers and local industry stakeholders because they are now able to make decisions after precisely knowing how much improvement can happen through RNP regarding costs, fuel consumption and engine emissions. And Haque of CAAB echoed his thoughts, stating that quantitative analysis and comparison data will be very worthwhile for CAAB.

The NSU authority has recently approved the research grant in this regard for which Ahmed applied last year. The fund will compensate for the research expenses he has personally borne so far in covering Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar, and will also allow him to expand the research to other cities to make the results more comprehensive.

“Although this is a small spoke in the big wheel of climate change, it will be great if the general people and the stakeholders can know about such findings to efficiently combat climate change and be aware of the solutions,” he says.

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Social Forum Calls for Fight Against Corruption, to Defend the Amazon

3 May 2017 - 5:53pm
Corruption has penetrated the Amazon rainforest like an illness that infects everything, said Ruben Siqueira, coordinator of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), during the VIII Panamazonic Social Forum (FOSPA), which brought together in the Peruvian Amazon jungle representatives of civil society from eight Amazon basin countries. The forum, which drew more than 1,600 participants to […]

UAE tops Arab youth’s favourite countries

3 May 2017 - 10:57am

Photo: Wam

By WAM
DUBAI, May 3 2017 (WAM)

The UAE has once again topped the world’s countries most young Arabs wish to live in, according to a recent international survey.

With a significant increase in the nation’s popularity compared to previous years, the findings of the ninth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2017, have kept the UAE for the sixth year on a row at the pinnacle of choices for young Arabs to live in, with 35 percent of young Arabs surveyed, citing the UAE as their first and foremost preference, a significant increase of 13 percent points over last year.

In another credit to the much-coveted living standard of the country, the UAE again topped other world nations when 36 percent of young Arabs said the UAE is their model country, when asked about which state they would like their country to emulate, compared to 23 percent last year. The US came in second place, with 15 percent, Saudi Arabia and Canada with 14 percent, and Germany on the fifth position with 13 percent.

Looking at the geopolitical situation, a third of young Arab surveyed across 16 countries said the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the top allies of their country, with 36 percent of them putting the UAE slightly ahead of Saudi Arabia, 34 percent, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2016.

Sunil John, Founder & CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said that the survey has consistently reported the UAE as the most desired place for young Arabs to live in and to emulate.

This is a testament to the success of the nation’s model of economic diversification and its focus on creating job opportunities and driving the entrepreneurial skills of young people. Young Arabs see the UAE as a beacon of hope and by endorsing its development model, they are applauding the vision of the country’s wise leadership, he noted.

Media, Our Best Hope

3 May 2017 - 7:50am

By Andrew Heslop
May 3 2017 (Dawn, Pakistan)

THE 2016 media freedom report card makes for uncomfortable reading. Impunity for those who kill journalists continues to undermine attempts by legal systems worldwide to deliver justice and ensure the rule of law. Read alongside rising numbers of physical attacks and an increasingly hostile online space, we remain far from guaranteeing a safe environment for media professionals, across any domain.

Andrew Heslop

The persistent application of national security laws to punish media or further tighten limitations on freedom of expression has sent a chill through global newsrooms

According to CPJ’s annual prison census, the world’s jails were home to some 259 journalists in 2016, the highest number on record. Just how many stories never make it into the public record as a result we shall never know. The evidence we do have suggests silence is spreading, the imperative to think twice before publishing more commonplace than ever. With the intertwining complexity of commercial interests and the precarious financial situations of media houses, those red lines are becoming more like red boxes into which so much is dumped, labelled ‘off limits’ to journalism.

Media must be aware of the power of collective action.

As we mark another World Press Freedom Day and make the habitual — yet necessary — condemnations of all of the above, we must also acknowledge the efforts to counteract the slide. It is perhaps the one positive in an otherwise bleak 12 months for media freedom. Pressures on journalists and media organisations are designed to reduce transparency and accountability in society. Usu¬ally it means powerful interests have some¬thing to hide from public view. Ultimately, media need to do more to convince public opinion that such targeting is an attack on common values and will not be tolerated.

In the meantime, media are obliged to advocate on their own behalf. The organisations, institutions, NGOs and support agencies designed to help in this are vital, but they are not enough. They are not effective unless media themselves are actively participating in defining the issues, steering the agenda, implementing the goals, and mobilising together to tackle the issues that directly affect them.

Paradoxical as this may sound, we must own our faults — act to change the disproportionate lack of women in senior positions and address the way many newsrooms treat young people of both sexes; arrest the decline in desirability of taking a job in media; create the conditions and flexibility that attract — and retain — the best talent; make our editorial standards the most rigorous and our business operations worthy of the deepest trust.

It is common sense to suggest a strong profession has more chance of fighting off the epidemic it faces if first its own house is in order.

Simply knowing your rights and the legal limitations that have been placed on your freedom as a journalist is a vital starting point; educating ourselves, so that we may educate others to be stronger professionals, better informed of the options we have, of the support that is out there, is crucial. But most importantly, it is about being aware of the power of collective action, of mobilising as professionals, for professionals, on whatever issue is put in our path.

WAN-IFRA works directly with media organisations in over 20 countries to support these dual efforts. Beyond sensitisation of the importance of a free press, media in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are taking concrete steps to ensure they are at the forefront when it comes to advocating their own freedoms.

Our media freedom committees are empowering media to lead advocacy on each continent. Coor¬dinated and run by media professionals, they set their agenda and define what they as a collective body can achieve — in partnership with exis¬ting initiatives, or as a body unique unto themselves.

A year into the experiment, we’re already seeing how the strategy can provide a way forward. In Uganda, a network of over 250 journalists are connected countrywide to discuss safety, good practice, offer advice, and identify where colleagues need support and training.

In Egypt, our committee is conducting public research into just why society is turning away from media, offering suggestions as to how the profession can reverse this trend. In Indonesia, collaboration between nine leading news organisations brought the Jakarta-centric news industry to the outlying province of Papua to expose issues the local media felt received little or no coverage in the national agenda.

In Palestine, Botswana, Malaysia, Colombia, Zambia, Cambodia, Kenya and a dozen other countries, WAN-IFRA is ensuring media are in control of similar advocacy efforts that will impact the overall state of freedom of expression, so that maybe next year, or in five years, or beyond, the opinion pieces published on May 3 won’t make for such grim reading.

The writer is director, Media Freedom WAN-IFRA .
www.wan-ifra.org/pressfreedom

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

Mexican Newspaper Shuts Down to Protest Murder of Journalist

3 May 2017 - 6:48am

Oscar Cantú, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Norte de Ciudad Juárez, is invited by UNESCO to share his experience at the World Press Freedom Day 2017 gathering in Jakarta

By Oscar Cantú
May 3 2017 (UNESCO)

Hello my name is Oscar Cantú, I’m a lawyer and a business man in Ciudad Juarez. I founded Norte newspaper 27 years ago. As Norte newspaper CEO, I have experienced all kinds of emotions, but nothing like what brought me here. The tragic murder of our journalist Miroslava Breach.

Context

Ciudad Juarez is located in the northern region of Mexico, in the State of Chihuahua, the largest in the country. Demographically, the Rio Bravo borders with the United States. Ciudad Juarez, besides being border with El Paso, Texas, is the most important border of Mexico.

The biggest economy at the border is the manufacturing industry, which generates about 300 thousand direct jobs and twice as many indirectly. It’s the main economic activity for a city with a population of 1 million 300 thousand people.

Norte newspaper inception

The inception of Norte newspaper began 27 years ago, but this trip started 40 years ago when I co founded the newspaper El Universal, in my hometown, which was part the most senior newspaper in Mexico City.

There were several motivations that led to its creation. At the beginning of my first year at law school, my father and I experienced a hard time at the hands of corruption, political power and abuses. My father, a hardworking and honest man who made his estate on a basis of work and effort was extorted by the governor, who used the entire judicial apparatus to strip him of property near to the border that with time acquired surplus value.

Since then I have understood how far public power can reach to achieve its objectives. I experienced in my own flesh, how our freedom was violated when arrested without order or reason. We were coerced and extorted, stripped of property.

“Such traumatic experiences, so unjust, a violation of human rights and of witnessing how the power that must protect its citizens through the impartation of justice, can become a factual power capable of killing. I realized the necessity to seek better living conditions, not only for my first unborn daughter, but to seek justice and equity for the community“.

Important Norte newspaper moral values

Norte Newspaper grew out of the need for a voice that told the truth. As a tool that counterbalanced the abuses, able to defend public opinion.

Norte newspaper was born with the promise of truth, fairness, critical journalism and counterweight, capable of exposing abuses and excess of power.

Since 1990, our publication has sought to open awareness and give voice to those who do not have it, promoting transparency and accountability.

Norte went through extreme situations where it had to face political power and fight to bring information to its readers.

Some examples:

Our building has been shoot at, our journalists have been threatened and some were kidnapped, constantly harassed and audited by governments  intimidating our advertisers, tried to put us in jail for denouncing corruption, abuse of power, injustice etc.

Contribution from research journalism to society

The premise of information, which must be true and accurate, the most important contribution of Norte, has been to inform the community in depth. To seek to open the conscience of people, so that they have the possibility to discern and choose, to reinforce the democratic system that Mexico boasts. Norte has become a counterweight, evidencing the corruption in different situations, not only of public power, but also of the private power. It has fought and joined the cause for human rights of people accused of crimes they did not commit.

Miroslava murder; break point

MB, was a professional woman in journalism, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a woman with very close family ties. A woman with a lot of vision, analytical and who always sought to expose the truth and courageus. Our work relationship generated a closeness with her, she was a woman with spark, witty, spontaneous and kind. One night we talked on the phone, next morning, I learned that she had been killed, shot eight times as she took her son to school in front of her house. Her family was and is still broken up, she did not deserve that. Her two children have now been orphaned.

The circumstance of her departure caused me a strong emotional impact, I felt a regret and a grief. I still feel it. Her cowardly murder made me aware of the risks we take with those who exercise or publish stories of high impact.

 

Why shutting down – an option

“I was ashamed of myself, because it made me reflect on the terrible mistakes the media owners have made that we did not initially demand justice for the deaths of journalists who have been killed, for many years in the past. It is our co-responsibility, to care and watch over their safety; I felt I had gone wrong. As an interminable synergy, the great corruption league of politics linked to drug trafficking and great impunity continue as It did when I started this trip”.

The result of doing the same thing that has been done, has not generated any result.

The closure of Norte newspaper is an act of protest to the government for not guaranteeing the security and respect that we, the media deserve. It is a cry to the society so that it is also conscious and demands better journalism. I decided to lower the curtain, because if we cannot be loyal to our integrity, giving the reader, what we consider must be of his or her knowledge, I cannot put at risk my collaborators, their families or my own.

 

Current State of journalism in Mexico / International ranking

Journalism in Mexico is worse now than ever. The absence of rule of law and ungovernability keeps journalism in a constantly dangerous scenario. The association Reporters Without Borders, places Mexico as one of the countries with the greatest risks for journalists, last year, just behind Syria and Afghanistan. According to “Reporters without borders”, Mexico is the most insecure country to practice journalism, in Latin America. In addition, in the last 15 years, the danger and risk for journalists in the country has doubled. According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) 97.1% of the cases of assault and murder of journalists have not been resolved.

In 51 months of the current government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, more than 92, thousand homicides related to organized crime have been reported in the country. As you can see, México is under a climate of total impunity, but the worst thing is that nothing is being done. Neither resolves nor protect journalists.

Another fact is that our government has been unable to repress or contain a “factic power” of the drug trafficking organization; – Mexico apparently is not at war, but reality shows us that in certain regions of our country it is a failed state. Organize crime controls. Corruption is out of control, as impunity.

 

Proposed message. 

The closure is an invitation to the population to join efforts and reconsider the importance and legacy of professional journalism, which promotes and guarantees a democratic system of government. The free press is undoubtedly a pillar for the development of any country, regardless of the continent, since freedom of expression is a value and a right of citizens. There is a need and a pending issue for media, civil organizations and journalists to develop strategies to ensure the exercise of journalism and information around the world. A free press will always bring a healthier and more democratic government.

 

We need to think of our future generations.

 According to PISA test (an international metric) Mexico’s average education level is of 8th grade, equivalent to second year of middle school, 43 per cent of the population is less than 15 years old, and do not have basic education complete, nore the skills to deal with global challenges.

How can we expect a population with such level of education to stand up for democracy, rule of law, and accountability?

We need to promote international public policies, to promote ethical, moral values and rules of law in a basic education levels.

We need to create international observatories to erradicate impunity on crimes commited against journalists.

We need mechanisms to fund investigative critical journalism. To be free of manipulation and control by governments. Independent local news organizations are most vulnerable.

In Mexico, investigative, critical and counterweight journalism is in danger of extinction

Crime and government are its main threat.

Journalists increasingly have little or no tools to deal with this reality.

Today our call to world nations is not to leave us alone, but to help us to preserve peace, freedom, democracy and life.

 

2017 World Press Freedom Day: Message by Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue

3 May 2017 - 2:54am

By Dr. Hanif Hassan Al Qassim
GENEVA, May 3 2017 (IPS)

This year’s theme for the 2017 World Press Freedom DayCritical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies” is one of the most important days honouring press freedom.

Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim

Inevitably, the impact of media has the power to transform societies through enlightenment and active citizenry.

Observers occasionally refer to the media as the fourth estate owing to its influential role to further enhancing the plurality of opinions and ideas.

A free press is indispensable for facilitating good governance and transparency. It strengthens the accountability of governments as citizens can critically assess the activities of incumbents through information provided by the media.

Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights defends freedom of expression and the right to information. It enables press freedom to become a reality:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Some cite as a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad that “the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr.”

However, significant challenges lay ahead limiting the freedom of the press.

Firstly, journalists have had at times to pay a high toll for the expression of truth as they see it.

Thus according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 1,200 journalists have been killed since 1992.

Among these victims, 65% were murdered, 22% perished owing to crossfire and combat, whereas 12% lost their lives owing to dangerous assignments.

Many of those murders remain unresolved and the perpetrators are rarely brought to justice as “complete impunity” prevails in 86% of the cases.

The 2016 World Press Freedom report issued by Reporters Without Borders suggests that violent extremism has put significant constraints on the ability of the press to operate freely and carry out their duties.

The conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria, the report underlines, have enabled insurgents to “create black holes for reporting.”

Journalists have the right to work free from the threat of violence and of fear in their capacity as transmitters of information to the public.

Their lives should not be put at stake for merely putting Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration into practice.

Secondly, the accountability of media needs to be strengthened so that it represents the public’s interests.

After the so-called “War on Terror”, hate speech and online bigotry have rapidly been on the rise targeting specifically religious minorities.

This has been followed by a misconceived conflation between terrorism, Islam and the Arab identity, which has given rise to marginalization, bigotry and discrimination.

At the same time losses of lives as a result of violence or military action may be reported selectively thus implying unacceptable differences in the value of human lives according to where the losses occur.

During the Geneva Centre’s panel debate on 15 March on the theme of “Islam and Christianity, the Great Convergence: Working Jointly Towards Equal Citizenship Rights” that was held at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), it was suggested by the panellists to better harness the power of media by promoting positive stories about religion and culture.

It was also proposed that we, as global citizens, should never fear the stranger as differences enrichen our societies.

I believe that media can play a more influential role in addressing prevailing misconceptions and misunderstandings that exist between people.

Journalists need to refrain from the use of contemporary phobic language triggering social exclusion and religious intolerance.

Incitements to hatred, violence and bigotry should be condemned as it exacerbates religious divisions within communities.

The spread of fake news and fabricated stories in social media contradict the goals of freedom of opinion or of expression.

A return to the founding principles of press freedom and journalism – accountability, transparency and independence of news media – is the first step to stop the flow of misinformation that is on the rise.

When the Emir Abd el Qader el Jazairy – the founder of contemporary Algeria – visited a printing press in Paris in 1852, he made the following observation on the power of the press:

What comes out of it resembles a drop of water coming from the sky: if it falls into the half-opened shell, it produces the pearl; if it falls into the mouth of the viper, it produces venom.”

Media has a “moral and social responsibility” in “combating discrimination and in promoting intercultural understanding (…)” as stipulated in Principle 9 of the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality.

By reversing the trend of offering simplistic and misconceived generalizations not grounded in reality, media could become a catalyst for social inclusion by implanting a culture of peace, harmony and tolerance.

This would be in line with the objectives laid out in the 2002 “Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” and in UN HRC Resolution 16/18 entitled “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.”

The Very Survival of Africa’s Indigenous Peoples ‘Seriously Threatened’

3 May 2017 - 2:19am

The Indigenous World 2017. Credit: IWGIA

By Baher Kamal
ROME, May 3 2017 (IPS)

The cultures and very survival of indigenous peoples in Africa are seriously threatened. They are ignored, neglected and fall victims of land grabbing and land dispossession caused by extractive industries, agribusiness and other forms of business operations.

These are some of the key findings of a major report “The Indigenous World 2017,” on the state of indigenous peoples worldwide, issued on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The report, launched on 25 April by the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGI) during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meeting (24 April—5 May), emphasises that in spite of progress, there are still major challenges facing indigenous peoples in Africa.

Africa is home to an estimated 50 million indigenous peoples, that’s around 13 per cent of the total of 270 million indigenous peoples worldwide. They live in all regions of Africa, with large concentrations in North Africa where the Amazigh people live. In West Africa, there are large pastoralist populations in countries like Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon etc.

There are also large concentrations of indigenous peoples in East Africa with big pastoralist populations in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Hunter-gatherers are found in many countries in central and Southern Africa, though they are smaller in numbers than the pastoralist groups.

In several African states, explains IWGIA, “indigenous peoples are yet to be recognised as such.” Arguments of all Africans being indigenous or that the concept “indigenous peoples” is divisive and unconstitutional are persistently expressed in political statements and continue to shape policies of a number of African countries.

Large-scale dispossessions of indigenous peoples’ lands remain a significant challenge in several African states, says the report, adding that the global drive for raw materials, agro-business and building major infrastructure projects are pushing indigenous peoples to their last boundaries.

A recent African Commission’s report on extractive industries and indigenous peoples reveals the negative impact several mining, agro business and logging projects are having on indigenous peoples’ land rights and access to natural resources, according to IWGIA.

In several cases, tensions with indigenous peoples have led to open conflicts, including loss of lives. In this regard, the African Commission has sent urgent appeals to a number of African governments on serious human rights violations affecting indigenous peoples.

Forced Evictions, Human Eights Violations

Marianne Wiben Jensen

Marianne Wiben Jensen, IWGIA’ senior advisor on Africa and Land Rights, told IPS that Africa’s indigenous peoples are victims of land grabbing and other forms of land dispossession caused by extractive industries, agribusiness and other business operations.

“This leads to forced evictions and other forms of serious human rights violations,“ she said, adding that indigenous peoples in Africa are “marginalised economically and politically and are only to a very limited extent participating in decision-making processes.”

“So they have very limited possibilities of voicing their perspectives and priorities and influencing their own futures,” Wiben Jensen warned, explaining that they typically live in marginalised and remote areas with very limited and bad social infrastructure.

The issue of extractive industries is once again a recurrent and overarching theme in the Indigenous world. Numerous examples show that both states and industries are repeatedly ignoring the key principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

Mega infrastructure projects, investments in extractive industries and large-scale agriculture are increasingly posing a threat to the everyday life of indigenous peoples and their ability to maintain their land, livelihood and culture.

At the same time, Wiben Jensen added, indigenous peoples in Africa have proven to be very resilient, and despite the many problems they face and the lack of support they receive from their governments, they are still there and manage to survive in often very harsh environments based on their unique indigenous knowledge of the nature and the natural resources.

“All this is happening amidst an alarming rate of violence and discrimination of indigenous peoples and human rights defenders around the world.”

In the Ngorongoro district of Tanzania, indigenous women are getting organised. They don’t want to be kept out of decision-making processes – they want to be heard and respected. Credit: IWGIA

Violence against Indigenous Women, Girls

Wiben Jensen also warned that violence against indigenous women and girls continues to feature several indigenous communities in Africa, including harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early or forced marriage and inaccessibility of good standards on reproductive rights.

Overall, one could put African states into three categories as far as the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights is concerned.

First, some African states that have fully endorsed the concept “indigenous peoples in Africa” and have moved on to adopt legal or policy frameworks aimed at addressing the concerned communities’ particular human rights situation. “These states are still small in number but their potential impact is immense.”

Second, some African states recognise and are willing to redress the historical injustices and marginalisation suffered by certain sections of their national populations that self-identify as indigenous peoples, “but remain uncomfortable with the term “indigenous peoples” and therefore prefer using alternative concepts in their laws or policies.”

Third, there are African states that continue to contest the existence of indigenous peoples in the continent or the relevance of the concept in Africa. There are numerous reasons for this denial, including a misunderstanding of what the concept “indigenous peoples in Africa” means.

The Forgotten Peoples, Reported

The Indigenous World 2017 is IWGIA’s 30th report on the status of indigenous peoples and comes in a special edition on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide and a comprehensive overview of the main global trends and developments affecting indigenous peoples during 2016. It contains 59 detailed country reports and 12 articles on defining global processes in a total of 651 pages.

It also highlights that despite some encouraging national achievements, the country reports in this year’s edition continue to illustrate the great pressures facing indigenous communities at the local level.

Over 70 experts, indigenous activists and scholars have contributed to the Indigenous World 2017, which has been published with support from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Danida, Denmark’s development cooperation.

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Journalist Killings in Sri Lanka Predicated on a Deadly Irony

2 May 2017 - 11:02am

This article is part of special IPS coverage of World Press Freedom Day.

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, May 2 2017 (IPS)

The widespread belief in the politically-motivated killings of journalists in Sri Lanka is predicated on a deadly irony: the hidden hand has always been visible, but the fingerprints have gone missing.

Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Sri Lankan journalist killed in 2009.

The two most widely publicized killings relate to IPS UN Bureau Chief in Colombo, Richard de Zoysa, 30, in February 1990, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge, 51, in January 2009.

But both murders remain unsolved—due primarily to political coverups — despite several leads pointing to the killers.

As fate would have it, the politician who apparently ordered the killing of de Zoysa, and the police officer who executed that order both died in a suicide bomb blast in 1993, three years after de Zoysa’s murder.

But the rest of the conspirators are still on the loose and fugitives from justice.

And as the United Nations commemorated World Press Freedom Day, there were reports last week that one of the suspects in the Wickrematunge killing– far from being investigated or prosecuted — had been elevated to the rank of a diplomat and posted to a Sri Lanka embassy in an Asian capital years ago.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ), which has an arresting headline on its website titled “Sri Lanka: Where Journalists are Killed with Impunity,” lists the killings of 25 Sri Lankan journalists since 1992, with 19 where “motives were confirmed” and six with “motives unconfirmed.”

David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on ‘the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression’, called on governments “to investigate and hold accountable all those responsible for attacks on journalists.”

In a statement released May 2, he said: “This past year has seen repeated attacks on journalists, leaving many dead or injured. Often terrorist groups carry out such attacks to silence opposition, secularists or atheists.”

Too often, he pointed out, threats are not met with effective protection by law enforcement or, in their aftermath, genuine investigation and prosecution.

“States need to make accountability a priority,” he declared.

In an interview with IPS, Sonali Samarasinghe, Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, confirmed that both high profile killings in Sri Lanka were meant to silence press criticism of political higher-ups.

Speaking strictly as a former journalist and widow of Lasantha Wickrematunge, she said “the authorities at the time wanted to silence Lasantha and cripple two newspapers — The Sunday Leader of which he was Editor-in-Chief and I was Consultant Editor– and The Morning Leader of which I was Editor in Chief.”

In Richard de Zoysa’s case, Samarasinghe said, he was the first Sri Lankan journalist to pay the ultimate price for his journalism.

Like Lasantha, Richard was beloved during his life, and like Lasantha, he has, since his death, become an icon in the media industry in Sri Lanka. Richard was a man of extraordinary talent and range who wrote haunting poetry and powerful plays, she noted.

There is no doubt in my mind that his killing was politically motivated as well, said Samarasinghe, a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, an Edward R. Murrow Fellow in Washington DC, and an International Journalist-in-Residence at the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: Since Lasantha’s killing, has there been any credible investigation to track down his killer or killers? Why has there been no trial or conviction for 8 long years?

SAMARASINGHE: Before January 2015, there had been virtually no serious investigation into this crime. There seems to have been a deliberate cover-up and stonewalling of the case. Such emblematic cases are not properly investigated for several reasons; among them, to hide the truth, to perpetuate a fear psychosis in the people and to create chaos. These assassinations affect not only the families of the victims but society as a whole. A break down in the rule of law and a lack of freedom of information leads to social divisiveness and generates mistrust between groups and in the institutions of the State. They send messages of fear, despondency and submission – and slavish/divisive societies are easier to manipulate.

However, since the change in administration in 2015, a special Criminal Investigations Team was established and there have been concrete steps taken not only in Lasantha’s case but in the cases of other journalists who were beaten, threatened or who disappeared during the previous administration. Lasantha’s body was exhumed late last year as part of this new investigation. These are extremely gut-wrenching circumstances and for me very difficult to endure as his wife. However, for the sake of the greater good and for the purposes of a thorough independent investigation, we have to go through this.

The proper conclusion of these investigations are important in order to re-establish Good Governance and the Rule of Law in our country, and halt the cyclical recurrence of violence in various forms. This is why the present administration has said it is deeply committed to these democratic principles.

IPS: How safe is the political environment for journalists now — as compared with 1990 or 2009?

SAMARASINGHE: As a nation that had suffered a dark period under the yoke of terrorism and an accompanying culture of impunity, this administration has demonstrated in several concrete ways that it is actively conscious of the value of a nation built on the principles of democracy and the Rule of Law. The cornerstone of any democracy is freedom of information. Without this there can be no meaningful advancement of peace, development or human rights. Among others, the proper handling of Lasantha’s case will become the symbol of a restored and renewed democracy where once again, the people of our country will have faith in our judiciary, and in our system of Justice. This is a slow and steady process.

Clearly the current administration has taken several steps in the right direction. For instance after years of civil society activism the Right to Information Act was signed into law in August 2016 and came into force on February 4, 2017. The government unanimously enacted the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crimes and Witnesses Act. A Permanent Office for Missing Persons (OMP) has been established. These are all structures and mechanisms that serve to rebuild trust in the state. I would say that today we have an administration that understands the value of an independent fourth estate and the serious perils of lapdog journalism.

QUESTION: With the increasing attacks on journalists worldwide, is there a role for the UN to stem this onslaught?

SAMARASINGHE: There is definitely a leadership role for the United Nations. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 19 which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” to the unanimously adopted Sustainable Development Goals – particularly Goal 16, to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” we see that member states fully realize the UN’s critical role in this regard.

Target 10 of Goal 16 recognizes that public access to information and fundamental freedoms are indispensable conditions to sustainable development. It reads, “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”

IPS: Are most UN member states paying only lip service to the cause of press freedom?

SAMARASINGHE
: In the final analysis, it is the responsibility of individual member states to implement nationally the international agreements and UN resolutions in accordance with their own domestic laws and cultures and to establish Rule of Law and end impunity. The two indicators set by the United Nations Statistical Commission for tracking progress in the achievement of target 10 are pertinent as they relate (a) to the number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates, and (b) to the number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information. Therefore SDG 16 is significant in mainstreaming safety of journalists in the international development agenda and for tracking progress in individual countries.

IPS: Do you think the UN should at least name and shame these countries where journalists are constantly in danger of losing their lives in the line of duty?

SAMARASINGHE: There is in fact a UN plan of action for the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, with UNESCO taking the lead in developing and implementing the plan. This plan includes a number of actions including standard-setting, policy-making, monitoring, reporting, building capacity and awareness-raising.

And yet, according to the UN itself every five days a journalist is killed in pursuit of a story. So yes, clearly the international community must be more proactive in addressing this issue. The numbers from civil society are staggering as well, with the Committee to Protect Journalists reporting that some 370 journalists were murdered between 2004 and 2013 in direct retaliation for their work, with 48 journalists killed in 2016 and 8 already killed in 2017.

However there are several soft approaches that the UN already explores, and awareness-raising through commemorative events or International Days (including World Press Freedom Day) is one. These soft approaches, if constant, can be very effective in shining a light on national situations, transporting incidents to the international stage and affording activists and family members an international platform to make their case.

IPS: Is there any role for journalists themselves to take up the fight at home or, more importantly, internationally?

One way to do this is to highlight or give prominence to the journalists who have been victimized in their own countries. For example, as an exiled journalist at the time, I was invited to speak at international events organized by UN agencies. During this period, I was also given the opportunity to speak at various other international venues, including on Capitol Hill, at the National Press Club, Universities and was also invited to serve as key note speaker at special events, including to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr Day. This kind of exposure helps keep the issues alive on the international stage.

Furthermore, UNESCO has the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize awarded on 3 May that honors a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of press freedom. Lasantha was awarded this prize in 2009. He became only the second journalist to be honoured posthumously since this prize was created, and a testimony to the risk many journalists run in the pursuit of their calling. Again, this award, and the buzz it created, became a megaphone opportunity to highlight not only Lasantha’s case, but also the plight of all journalists persecuted everywhere for their work.

And in 2009 Mr Ban Ki Moon the then UN Secretary General highlighted Lasantha’s assassination during his remarks on Press Freedom Day. The world’s top diplomat giving prominence to Lasantha’s case was an important step in the right direction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SNVeGGe0TU. Other UN agencies and diplomats expressed concern as well quite publicly, and these statements sent a message that the international community was watching. But yes, given the horrific numbers, it is important that the international community remains ever vigilant.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

A Free and Diverse Media is Essential to Protecting Democracy in the 21st Century

2 May 2017 - 9:31am

Kashmiri journalists at a rare protest against a government clampdown on freedom of expression. Credit: Athar Parvaiz/IPS

By Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah
LONDON, May 2 2017 (IPS)

Images of protestors flooding the streets – whether in Caracas, Bucharest, Istanbul or Washington DC – send a powerful message to those in power, especially when they are plastered across newspaper front pages.

In far too many countries, the response has been to shut down the space for citizens to organise and undermine the ability for dissent to be reported. Even in the most mature of democracies, the ability of citizens to organise and mobilise, and the freedom of journalists to report when they do, are being undermined. In an era of rising populism and spreading curbs on fundamental freedoms, we need to do more to protect civic rights and press freedom.

When people hit the streets to express dissent, headlines are not always guaranteed.

In some countries, journalists risk imprisonment, disappearance or death for reporting on voices of dissent. In other places, the few powerful interests that control mainstream media channels are in cahoots and play down the scale or importance of protest. And the world over, independent and smaller media outlets – that are critical to diverse media – are struggling to stay afloat.

The first, and most worrying reason why protests don’t make the nightly news is because in many countries around the world journalists who cover protests are putting themselves at risk. In countries where civic participation is restricted or closed, journalists, like activists, risk losing their jobs, their freedom and even their lives reporting on protests.

In countries where civic participation is restricted or closed, journalists, like activists, risk losing their jobs, their freedom and even their lives reporting on protests.
According to the CIVICUS Monitor attacks on journalists are one of the three most commonly reported violations of civic space, alongside the detention of human rights defenders and the use of excessive force during protests. The Monitor, which measures the openness of civic space in 195 countries, found that journalists are most often attacked as a result of their political reporting on protests, conflict reporting, and for exposing government corruption.

Civil society and media exist in an ecosystem where attacks on one are likely to have an impact on the other. Where human rights defenders and civil society organisations find their freedoms under threat, so to do journalists. Policing media coverage is just one of the ways that governments close or repress civic space.

While social media and citizen journalists and bloggers have made it more difficult for mainstream media outlets to ignore mass demonstrations, some media outlets actively seek to undermine the renewed interest they generate. Media Matters for America, a monitoring agency, has recorded repeated instances of corporate media in the United States making false claims, such as that protests are staged or protestors are paid. Instead of interviewing citizens participating in the marches, cable news programs turn to their usual group of pundits for comment. For example, after the recent Science March, some cable television shows hosted panels featuring climate change deniers and no actual scientists.

In some cases journalists have forgotten that the voices of ordinary citizens, are just as important, if not more important, than the voices of powerful politicians and wealthy elites. And even where journalists do seek to quote representatives from civil society they too often turn to the same narrow set of voices for comment, since smaller non-governmental organisations often lack the media resources of larger international organisations.

Another important reason why journalists do not cover protests is because they do not have the resources to do so. The economic pressures on commercial media are also harming press freedom. Independent, diverse media often lack the financial resources of media owned by wealthy corporations or governments with their own political agendas. Many media outlets now rely on donations or membership models to survive.

All of these restrictions have led many activists to turn to reporting on protests themselves. Some of the most powerful journalism now comes from citizen bloggers, often providing invaluable news from closed political spaces and behind the battle lines.

As the boundaries between citizen and professional journalists blur it is becoming increasingly important to protect the space for all of those people who seek to inform, expose and educate.

Whether it is protestors, journalists, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, or climate scientists we need to protect the ability for people to be able to express dissent. And we need to stand together.

Without journalists, scientists marching in the street, would not be able to be able to share their messages with the world. Without photojournalists, vast underestimates of crowd sizes from officials may continue to be used to undermine popular movements.

Asking questions, speaking truth to power, shining a light on corruption. These simple actions carry increased risks in 2017, as powerful elites seek to cement their positions of power. In this febrile political environment, civic space and press freedom feel more important than ever.

 

Repression 2.0: An Updated Global Censorship

2 May 2017 - 12:46am

In Minnesota, supporters gather at a rally for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in November 2016. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, May 2 2017 (IPS)

Censorship tactics have become more complex, posing new challenges for journalists and non-journalists alike, a new report finds.

In its annual “Attacks on the Press” report, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented a range of censorship cases from around the world and revealed a new world of media repression.

“[Censorship] is definitely becoming more sophisticated and complex and is occurring at a variety of levels,” CPJ’s Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch told IPS.

CPJ’s Executive Director described these new strategies as “repression 2.0” in the report, stating; “Repression 2.0 is an update on the worst old-style tactics, from state censorship to the imprisonment of critics, with new information technologies including smartphones and social media producing a softening around the edges.”

At the end of 2016, there were almost 260 journalists in jail, the most CPJ has ever documented.

Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists with over 145 imprisoned journalists, more than China, Egypt, and Iran combined.

The country’s media crackdown deepened following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and the subsequent imposition of a state of emergency which the Turkish government allegedly used to shut down over 50 newspapers, 30 TV channels, and three news agencies.

The government also reportedly used anti-terror laws to imprison journalists, including the chief editor of Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet Can Dündar who was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets, espionage, and aiding a terrorist group. Most recently, life sentences are being sought for 30 people with ties to Zaman newspaper, which is associated with Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen whom the government accuses of organising the coup attempt. The newspaper has since been under government control.

In Kenya, authorities are increasingly using a new mechanism to control the media: money.

“As revenues drain away from traditional media due to the inroads of digital technologies, the use of financial-induced self-censorship, or ‘fiscing’, can also ensure that journalists are more ‘reasonable’ in their reporting,” said journalist Alan Rusbridger in the report.

“Murder is messy. Money is tidy,” he continues.

However, the control of information is not unique to developing countries, said Rasch.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump has raised anti-media hostility to levels “previously unseen on a national scale,” said journalist Alan Huffman in the report.

President Trump has consistently described some media organizations as “fake news,” most recently reiterating the claim that media fabricate stories during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “They have no sources, they just make them up when there are none,” he told attendees.

Trump’s rhetoric often emboldened his supporters who would boo journalists. Huffman described one case in the report where a Trump supporter wore a T-shirt that suggested the use of lynching, stating: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”

The president has also restricted and even denied access for reporters perceived as unfriendly, including those from Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post, and has threatened to change libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists and news agencies.

In one chapter, Christian Amanpour noted the similarities in such “poisonous” trends in the U.S. and around the world.

“The same dynamic has infected powerful segments of the American media, as it has in Egypt, Turkey, and Russia, where journalists have been pushed into political partisan corners, delegitimized, and accused of being enemies of the state. Journalism itself has become weaponized. We cannot allow that to happen,” she stated.

In Ecuador, the government has allegedly used social media as a way to suppress journalists.

After tweeting that Ecuador’s former Vice-President Lenin Moreno had not paid income taxes, journalist Bernardo Abad’s twitter account had been blocked for violating its terms of service. By the end of the week, nine accounts had been temporarily suspended after also tweeting about Moreno’s taxes.

Radsch told IPS that with the internet and social media, there are now “more outlets for repression and threats.”

China has taken this to the next level, making plans to link journalists’ online posts to their finances.

Under the country’s proposed social credit plan, journalists who write or speak critically of the government could face personal financial consequences including decreased credit score or a denied loan. Such censorship goes beyond the business as usual tactics of shutting down reporters’ social media accounts to affecting journalists’ daily activities.

Rasch highlighted the need to advocate for an open internet and the rights of journalists.

“[We must] remember the importance of the press that continues to help us make sense of all the information that we are bombarded with all the time,” she told IPS.

She also recommended journalists adopt secure communication practices in order to maintain their privacy and their sources’ privacy.

Most importantly, journalists must stand strong and commit to fact-based reporting.

“This is the best and most important way to fight back against the new censorship,” said Simon.

“Journalists cannot allow themselves to feel demoralized. They need to pursue their calling and to seek the truth with integrity, honestly believe that the setbacks, while real, are temporary,” he concluded.

Trolling of Women Journalists Threatens Free Press

1 May 2017 - 7:16pm

Shammi Haque, a Dhaka blogger known as a courageous advocate for free expression and secularism, received death and rape threats. Credit: Center for Inquiry

By Manipadma Jena
NEW DELHI, May 1 2017 (IPS)

“It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it,” says Mary Beard, a Cambridge University classics professor about online trolling. “If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It is the many ways that men have silenced outspoken women since the days of the ancients.”

Women professionals in many countries across Asia and the Pacific have increased their number in the newsrooms, according to a study, but they still represent only three out of ten news staff. Even with this low representation, they have now breezed into the male bastion of hard stories, among them politics, corruption, conflict, governance, environment with confidence and impact.“Shaming and harming women is an age-old practice, except that real time information sharing through technology makes the outreach far greater and the damage huge.” --Dilrukshi Handunnetti

They speak their mind, put forth their opinion and debate knowledgeably and vigorously with readers on matters of import on social media platforms.

Societal images of women have remained largely conservative.

Shammi Haque, a Dhaka blogger, received death and rape threats and an email from an Islamic extremist group that claimed the killing of  six Bangladeshi bloggers which said,  “Since the Islamic  Sharia (law) views working of women outside their homes without purdah (head cover) as (a) punishable offense, their employers are guilty to the same degree. We are urging the media to release their women from their jobs.”

In India, as part of an anti-trolling campaign by national daily Hindustan Times, Harry Stevens and Piyush Aggarwal set out in April to demonstrate how hard it is to be an outspoken woman on Twitter. They gathered a week’s worth of tweets sent to four prominent Indian women journalists. Out of these Barkha Dutt, a television veteran, received 3,020 abusive tweets, and Rana Ayyub, a Muslim, received 2,580 hateful tweets, often coloured by Islamophobia.

Internet trolls have had a free run in the region for at least six years now. Women journalists who tackled trolling and abusive comments on social media by ignoring or blocking the persistent trolls, now find that stalking and direct threats of attack have increased, forcing them to seek legal recourse or police protection.

“Journalists’ safety is a precondition for free speech and free media,” says the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

“Online media today allows for the fast flow of information and the public’s active par­ticipation in sharing ideas, news and insight. An open, free and safe Internet is essential for public debate and free flow of information and therefore should be duly protected.”

Female journalists, bloggers and other media actors are disproportionally experi­encing gender related threats, harassment and intimidation on the Internet, which has a direct impact on their safety and future online activities.

Twitter threats like “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it” have been directed even at the sexagenarian Mary Beard.

About the vitriolic abuse she faces, Dutt asks, “Why isn’t anyone discussing the marriages, divorces, and affairs of my male colleagues? Why the fixation with my private life? Because the public scrutiny of women – and especially those of us who are proudly ambitious and fiercely independent – is very different from the standards used to measure men. And the subtext is always sexual.”

“Cyber bullies are the same as goons who threaten in real life,” psychiatrist Samir Parikh says.

The personalized online abuse women journalists get for doing only what is expected by their professional job “can make them feel traumatized, helpless, angry and very frustrated,” says Parikh. “In some, it can even cause self-esteem issues, affect social life and lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. For women, the abuse and threats of violence are often openly sexist and sexual, which makes them tougher to deal with.”

“(Online) it is possible to cloak one’s identity and attack individuals in the most unethical and harmful manner,” says Dilrukshi Handunnetti, an editor in Colombo. “Shaming and harming women is an age-old practice, except that real time information sharing through technology makes the outreach far greater and the damage huge.”

It does little to ease the trauma for journalists to know that trolling correlates with psychopathy, sadism, and Machiavellianism, according to a 2014 empirical personality study. Other studies found boredom, attention seeking, revenge, pleasure, and a desire to cause damage to the community among motivations for trolling.

But some interviewed trolls viewed their online comments not as harassment, but as a needed counterweight to opinions and news items they believe are flawed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

As threats get too dangerous to ignore, women journalists are being forced to seek recourse from the law, despite their misgivings about how the law is framed and doubts about whether law-enforcing agencies can ensure speedy and sensitive investigation.

An Online Harassment Social Media Policy drafted March 2016 by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) lays out a road map for media houses to protect journalistic voices, create safe online spaces for open and respectful debate, and deal with abuse and harassment faced in particular by female staff.

Among the mechanisms to ensure digital safety and freedom from harassment, the road map calls for a special cyber cell in media organizations that equip women journalists particularly, with legal awareness and resources. When the harassment is extreme, measures must also include physical security, legal hand-holding, and support to pursue police complaints and psychological support and trauma counseling.

Meanwhile, a Byte Back handbook for women journalists being cyber-bullied gives out handy advice – ignore, filter, block, report and if it gets worse, name-and-shame, shout it out, and don’t forget to save and document abuse.

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