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Afghanistan: six premiers mois sanguinaires pour les journalistes

En Afghanistan, 9 journalistes sont morts en 2019

Actualisation de l’article daté du 1er aout 2019

En juillet 2019, 37 cas de violence contre les journalistes en Afghanistan ont été déclarés. 

3 meurtres – 8 blessés – 11 arrestations – 12 menaces et insultes

Ces derniers chiffres montrent une augmentation significative de la violence contre les journalistes afghans dans leur pays. Lors d’une conférence de presse à Kaboul, le comité afghan de sécurité des journalistes souhaite que le gouvernement afghan prenne toutes les mesures possibles pour prévenir la violence contre les journalistes.

Durant ces six premier mois de 2019, l’Afghanistan a perdu au moins six journalistes en six incidents différents. En 2018, l’Afghanistan était déjà le pays le plus meurtrier au monde pour les journalistes. Cette année s’annonce atrocement similaire.

Déjà 35 cas de violence en 2019 contre les journalistes et le personnel des medias enregistrés par Nai Media Institute en Afghanistan. Le décompte ne s’arrête pas là et il est sanglant : six meurtres, six blessures graves, dix-sept  menaces et insultes. Il y a aussi des actions terroristes : trois attaques contre les médias et une explosion à la voiture piégée.  

Ces attentats se pratiquent par vague : les forces de sécurité et médicales accourent pour secourir les journalistes ayant réchappés à l’attentat. C’est le moment choisi pour déclencher une deuxième bombe. Cette scène s’est déroulée à Kaboul l’année dernière : 9 journalistes avaient été tués dans ce double attentat du 30 avril 2018.  

Récemment, les Talibans ont lancé de nouvelles menaces contre les médias en Afghanistan, en demandant l’arrêt immédiat des publicités pro-gouvernement. Être journaliste dans un pays ravagé par la guerre et les luttes intestines représente un danger permanent. Les Talibans et l’Etat Islamique sont responsables des crimes contre les journalistes et ceux qui accompagnent les journalistes. Les Talibans ont décidé que les journalistes afghans étaient dorénavant leur cible privilégié.

Janvier

Afghan Journalist Javid Noori

Javid Noori est le premier journaliste tué dans le monde en 2019. C’était le 5 janvier. Voyageant dans un bus, il a été tué lors d’un barrage routier à Frarah, une province dans l’ouest du pays où il travaillait pour Neshat Radio, une radio locale. Javid Noori avait 27 ans.

Février

Local journalists Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani

En février, deux autres journalistes sont tués par balle dans Takhar, une province dans le nord de l’Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Arya et Rahimullah Rahmani ont été tués par deux inconnus qui sont entrés dans les bureaux de Radio Hamsada, une station de radio basée en Taloqan, ville située dans le nord ouest de l’Afghanistan. Comble de l’horreur, ils ont étés tués lors de leur émission, pendant qu’ils étaient en direct à la radio.

Mars

View of Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwas tomb in Southern Khost province of Afghanistan

Sultan Mahmood Khairkwa, journaliste afghan pour Zhman TV est mort des complications après qu’il est reçu une balle dans la tête par des hommes armés se revendiquant de l’Etat Islamique.

Un autre journaliste est mort ce même mois de mars, il s’agit de Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi. Journaliste afghan, il voulait se rendre à son travail en prenant sa voiture. Mais sa voiture a explosé, piégée par une bombe. Cette fois-ci, c’était dans le sud de l’Aafghanistan. Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi travaillait avec  la chaine de télévison  Sabawoon.

Avril

Cette fois-ci, un homme armée a attaqué le radio journaliste, Imran Lemar. Lemar travaillait pour Mazal radio. Il a été blessé par balle par un homme armé inconnu dans la grande ville de l’est, Jalalabad, le 25 avril.

Ce même mois d’avril, le rédacteur en chef du média 1TV, Abdullah Khanjani, était frappé ou plutôt battu par les gardes du corps de la protection présidentielle. Cet événement s’est passé à Kaboul, la capitale.

Mai

Meena Mangal presenting TV show in local TV in Kabul

Contrairement à une idée reçue, de nombreuses femmes sont journalistes en Afghanistan. Elles ne sont pas épargnées.

C’est le cas de Meena Mangal, tuée à Kaboul alors qu’elle se rendait à son travail. Sa famille a imploré le gouvernement de mettre en place une enquête pour retrouver les assassins.

Loin de la violence, Meena Mangal était amatrice de poèsie, voici son ultime poème. 

Meena mangal ki last poem

Publiée par Lar aw bar yo Afghan sur Samedi 11 mai 2019

Les chefs d’Etat du monde entier, dont le canadien Justin Trudeau, ont demandé qu’on se souvienne de Meena Mangal come une journaliste à l’intégrité totale qui s’est battue toute sa vie pour les droits des femmes d’Afghanistan, quelle que soit leur âge. 

Meena Mangal travaillait à Tolo TV, le plus grand diffuseur privé d’Afghanistan, mais aussi pour d’autres médias. Elle était aussi conseillère culturelle à la chambre basse du parlement national d’Afghanistan.

Juin

AFJC Shaki Baluch

Selon les médias afghans, le journaliste Shaki Baluch a été tué au Zabul, la province du sud d’Afghanistan, par des hommes armés. De plus, 7 employés de Shamshad TV ont été blessés dans une attaque.  

Si ce début d’année sanglant pour les journalistes afghans ne choque plus l’opinion mondiale, l’appel des insurgés à tuer le plus possible de journaliste devrait attirer l’attention. Mais attention à ne pas oublier les nombreux blessés. Entre les enlèvements, les passages à tabac, les insultes, les humiliations et les blessures volontaires, être journaliste en Afghanistan c’est vivre dans la peur permanente. 

De plus, nous pouvons constaté que les crimes contres ces journalistes sont dans l’ensemble du pays et non pas circonscit à une ou deux régions. 

Pourtant, le gouvernement a pris des engagements répétés pour assurer la protection des journalistes. En 2018, avec 15 journalistes tués, l’Afghanistan était reconnu comme le pays le plus meurtrier pour les journalistes dans le monde. 2019 repart sur les mêmes bases.

Afghanistan: another deadly Year for Journalists in 2019

Within the first six months of 2019, Afghanistan has lost six of its journalists in separate incidents, the first death of a journalist was recorded by RSF in Afghanistan this year.

35 cases of violence against journalists and media staff were recorded by Nai, supporting open media in Afghanistan which includes 5 cases of murder, 6 injuries, 17 cases of threats and insults, 3 cases of attacks on media, 3 cases of beating, and 1 case of IED explosion.


Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.


Recently the Taliban terrorist group issued new threats to media outlets in Afghanistan, demanding an immediate halt to publications of pro-government advertisements.

Working as a journalist in war-torn Afghanistan is not easy and safety is an increasing concern for journalists around the country.

The Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) were involved in crimes against humanity and are the most responsible for the attacks on journalists and media staff in Afghanistan. They targeted journalists, aimed to silence press freedom and incite fear among the people.

January

Afghan Journalist Javid Noori

Javid Noori was the first journalist in the world killed in Afghanistan by Taliban fighters on January 5th, 2019.

He was killed when the Taliban searched a bus he was on at a roadblock in the western Frarah province of Afghanistan. Only 27 years old, Javid Noori worked for Neshat Radio in the western Farah province of Afghanistan.

February

Local journalists Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani

In February, two other radio journalists were shot and killed in the northern Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani were shot and killed by two unidentified men who entered Radio Hamsada’s office, a local radio station based in Taloqan city in northeastern Afghanistan. They were killed during a live program.

March

View of Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwas tomb in Southern Khost province of Afghanistan

Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwa, local Afghan journalist of Zhman TV died from complications after being shot in head by ISIS gunmen in the southern Khost city of Afghanistan on March 15th.

More violence against journalists this month was seriously wounded Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi. Ahmadi the local Afghan journalist was on his way to his office when an IED bomb that was embedded in his car, detonated in Lashkargah city of Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan.

He worked with Helmand based Sabawoon TV in Afghanistan.

April

More bad news for journalists this month, a gunmen attacked radio journalist, Imran Lemar. Lemar worked at Mazal radio and was shot & injured by an unknown gunman in the eastern Jalalabad city of Afghanistan on April 25th.

Also in April, the 1TV Editor-in-Chief, Abdullah Khenjani was beaten by a presidential protection guard in Kabul city.

May

Meena Mangal presenting TV show in local TV in Kabul

Tragic news in May for the family of female Afghan journalist, Meena Mangal who was shot dead Kabul, the capital city by unknown gunmen.

Meena Mangal was shot dead in public on May 11th while she was on her way to work in Kabul. Her family wants justice from the government.

Leaders from around the world like Justin Trudeau commended Meena Mangal’s journalistic integrity and her advocacy for women and girls while condemning the violence that ended her life.

She worked at Tolo TV, the largest private broadcaster in Afghanistan, as well as Shamshad and Lemar television stations.

She had also recently become a cultural adviser to the lower chamber of Afghanistan’s national parliament.

July

AFJC Shaki Baluch

According to the Afghan media, Shaki Baluch, a local journalist of National broadcaster (RTA) killed in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan by unknown gunmen in the month of July and also seven employees of local Shamshad TV stations were wounded in an attack in the capital of the country.

Moreover, recently Taliban insurgents issued new threats against Afghan media which sparks Global Reaction. Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.

The Afghan government has made repeated commitments to ensure the protection of journalists and journalistic protection institutions have repeatedly asked the government to protect journalists. But challenges remain for journalist’s safety today. RSF recognized Afghanistan as the deadliest country for journalists in the world. 15 journalists were killed in 2018.

« A good journalist is someone who serves his community »

TESTIMONY FROM A MARITUANIAN JOURNALIST


« A good journalist is someone who serves his community. Serving others through my journalistic work, that is my vocation. »

This is the story of MBG, Marituanian journalist fighting against injustice.


« Within me, there is an innate sense of justice. That which scares me the most is neither death nor pain, but it is to see someone living in poverty without being able to do anything to help them. Justice is universal, it does not have a skin color, ethnicity, or religion. »

MBG arrived in France from Marituania in April 2018, leaving behind a large family, a mother constantly in grief, and a fishing community that his father also left.

« I have just over an hour » he started with just before the start of his interview for « La Maison des Journalistes » « I don’t want to be late for morning prayers » In fact, he confides in us that he is very religious. He wears a traditional robe ordinate with orange patterns and his eyes, black like carbon, often look towards the horizon: maybe towards his mother or his father or towards memories of fishing with his father.

The fact that his roots are elsewhere do not inhibit him from perfectly integrating himself into the small community at « La Maison des Journalistes ». He is often seen strolling through the halls of the building and he knows almost all of the residents, with whom he exchanges confidences and pleasant jokes. He speaks with a low and calm voice, his temperment is proud, open and dignified.

MBG’s Journalist Life in Africa

Insults, persecution, threats: MBG’s daily life in Marituania was not easy. « As a journalist, I am always fixated on a single objective: the truth. The intimidations never bothered me. When I worked in Marituania as a journalist, first on the radio, and later at the television, I always thought of my father. I have my education and career thanks to my father.

The fourth child in a large family, MBG confesses that he always had a privleged relationship with his father. « He gave me responsabilities very early, and when there was a problem at the house he always said « Ask MBG, he will know what to do. »

MBG explqins that the lifestyle in Africa rests entirely on the present. « The philosophy is not to have a bank account, but to respond to the needs of the family today, in the present. In Africa, we’re not overly concerned with the future, all that matters, is the ability to eat and get dressed today. »

In 1989, MBG was just a child when his family was deported to Senegal. In fact, in Marituania there was and still remains a system of apartheid, where the white minority persecutes and send the black majority to exile. « In Marituania, mixed marriages are not allowed, whites have the right to all that is better and for the blacks all the worst remains. They stole my childhood, he bitterly testified.

A Journalistic Career Marked by Engagement with the Truth

Shortly after the death of his father in 2011, MBG returns to Marituania and starts to work first as a rapper, then as a radio host, finally as a journalist next to Nouakchott radio – a broadcast news station from Nouakchott,Maritunia

In 2004, he was employed at a presenter for Sahel TV, a private television channel. He hosted a show called Union Trade « I invited all of the communities, black and white, people from the majority and opposition and I asked them sensitive questions about racism, slavery, the absence of Human Righs in Marituania and the exploitation of politics and religion. »

MBG resigns from Sahel TV when the TV director of the television station stopped him from inviting the political dissident Samba Thiam, former party head of the opposition of FPC, (Progressive Forces for Change – an organization against racism from the state and slavery in Marituania in hopes of a democratic, equal, and non-racist Marituania) returning from 20 years of exile in Senegal. « I resigned for a question of principal. The director accused me of being an « inflamist » but I was only doing my job. »

After the experience at Sahel TV, MBG finds himself without a job and without money and must leave for Senegal, where he only stays for a few months.

In returning from Marituania at the end of 2015, he starts to work for Chinguitt TV , another private television station, leading the french department. Also here, the problems and critics come quickly. « The director called me often to tell me that I should pay attention, that I spoke of too sensitive subjects, that I risked  destabilizing my country because of my shows and that if I continue, the state could have to close the station, that is what happened. »

But MBG declared having always followed a sole objective: the truth. « For all the rest, I do not care, the work of a journalist is to inform and to tell things the way that they are, I was never scared of the the other people or of the threats that I constantly received. »

Threats and Persecutions

In 2016, MBG went as a reporter at protest of militants against slavery. « I was at the tribunal to report and first I was insulted and then beaten by the police. They knew that I was a journalist et they wanted to scare me. In Marituania, the police are extremely corrupt. »

Threats, persecutions, insultes are unfortunately on the daily agenda for MBG. One day, when he was in Kaédi, a city situated a few kilometers from the capital, he was stopped by the police who demanded him to open his bag. At first, MBG refused to obey, but is bag was taken with force. « Inside, there was only my work tools, my recording device, my headphones, and my USB drive. One of the white police officers, took drugs out of his pockets and threatened me by saying that he found it in my bag.

A Sole Vocation: Serving Others

After this time, MBG knows that he is constantly in danger. In February 2018, he was the only journalist invited to a conference of the African Bank of Developpment of the Ivory Coast. At this time, he gives a speech to denounce certains practices of Marituanian leaders, the lack of solidarity surrounding Marituania, touched by the problems from racism and slavery.

Returning back from his trip, he receives new threats from the police. « At this time, also under pressure from my mother who can no longer sleep at night, I realized that I must leave. When your honor and your dignity are touched, you have two choices: to stay and suffer, or to protect yourself and leave. I never wanted to bend my head around anyone and I had to leave Marituania, in a certain sense to continue to serve and do my job independently.

« My dream? Is to serve people. For me, nothing is more noble than the acting of serving someone else. « 

Today, MBG lives at the Maison des Journalistes, but is it certain that one that he will return to his country where he will live with his whole family. Today, MBG writes articles in french for l’Oeil de la Maison des Journalistes.

Memories

« I remember conversations with my grandmother, a women whom I have lots of respect for. Today, she is 100 years old. »

When I was in Marituania, she encouraged me to continue my journalistic work, and to not give up. For me, there hasn’t been more satisfaction than when the elderly see me and say « I am familiar with your work, I pray for you. »

I have a lot of respect for the elderly. Still today, when I am on the Metro in Paris, I always give them my seat on the train.

The New York Time’s Cartoon Suppression Sparks Worry

The news that shook the world’s largest daily newspaper, the New York Times International. After one month of controversy following an image deemed antisemitic, starting July 1st, there will no longer be political cartoons in the newspaper’s opinion section. This decision foreshadows a complicated future for newspaper cartoonists.


A single stroke of the pen was enough to unleash a worldwide controversy.


In the April 27th issue, there is an an image of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, depicted as a dog with a star of David around his neck. Behind him, the American president, Donald Trump, is shown blind holding the « dogs » leash with a yamaca on his head.

After public outcry, the New York Times appoliogized in a letter, calling it an « error of judgement ». A justification that convinced neither American not Israeli medias.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States addressed the journal and stated « Today, the New York Times has made these pages a dream for those who hate the Jewish State. » He declared in Washington on April 29th.

The journals publication director, A.G. Sulzberger, launched a disciplinary procedure against the editor who chose this image. He also decided to no longer use cartoons coming from an outside company. (The images deemed to be antisemitic came from an outside company.)

From the White House, Donald Trump was offended for not being cited in the newspapers letter of appology. Finally, the New York Times surrendered to social media pressure and announced the end of its cartoon pages

Is freedom of opinion being threatened?

New York Times International will only be remove cartoons from the opinion section. They will not remove cartoons from from the entire newspaper.

Press cartoons are bought, sometimes in an image bank like the image by Antonio Moriera  that started the controversy. Patrick Chappatte, artist from the New York Times expressed his disappointment on his blog following this announcement.

« In these past few years, some of the best newspaper cartoonists in the US (…) have lots their jobs because their editors found them too critical of Trump (…) Maybe we should start to worry. And revolt. The newspaper cartoonists were born with democracy and when these freedoms are threatened, they are too » he condemned on his blog.

Interviewed by France Inter, Plantu declared that he is « worried for the future of our democracies and for freedom of opinion. » The artists of the world are outraged to see a journal as prestigious as the New York Times succumb to pressure from social media. « If it is pleasing to all, the freedom of the artists is going to be reduced (but that is secondary), but it is freedom of journalists, freedom of citizens and freedom of opinion that is going to fall apart. »

For Terry Anderson, illustrator and general director of Cartoonist Rights Network International, « It is undeniable that the decision from the New York Times is apart of a worldwide trend and continues to reduce the public space for cartoonists. […] This is why we whole-heartedly condemn it.

Antonio Moreira Antunes

Freedom of expression has already been previously attacked.

Antonio Moriera Antunes, author of controversial cartoon has been regularly published in Portuguese magazines and journals since 1975. This is not the artist’s first controversy, in 1992, he published a cartoon in Expresso (Portugese newspaper) that became famous and hotly contested: Pope Jean-Paul II represented with a condom on this nose. This image was put on a petition signed by 15,000 of the Portugese demanding for censorship of this cartoonist.

Charlie Hebdo

Known for its provocative images & its quirky and satirical humor, Charlie Hebdo provoked many national controversies regarding freedom of the press and opinion. In 2006, Charlie Hebdo published Danish cartoons (from the Jyllands-Posten Journal) of the prophet Muhammad. The Union of Islamic Organizations of France and The Grand Mosque of Paris started a penalty procedure against Charlie Hebdo for « slander published against a group of people due to their religion. »

Charlie Hebdo became the target of numerous amounts of threats from radical Islamists following this controversy. On January 7th, 2015, the editoral board was targeted with an attack killing 12 people, including some of the most famous artists: Cabu, Charb, Wolinsky and Tignous.

Alex

Most recently, the newspaper cartoonist, Alex was a received of death threats following the January publication of a cartoon  in « Le Courrier Picard ». The image mocked Eric Drouet, a controversial figure from the Yellow Vest Movement, caricatured as a small yellow bird being hunted by Jean-Luc Mélenchon (a French politician from the National Assembly).

« There are people, journalists but other also who knock and demolish » recalled Alex, who is worried about both the current social climate in France and the anti-media hate that has been proliferating.

Impacts and Revelations from Disclose’s Investigative Journalists Regarding the Sale of French Arms to Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday May 28th at 7:30, there was a conference broadcast over Facebook Live at « Le Grand Bréguet », a Parisian bar to explain what happened during the explosive investigation « Made in France ». On April 15th, Disclose (a French NGO for investigative journalism) published an investigation that exposed the problem of selling french arms to Saudi Arabia.

Following this investigation, on May 14th, Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal were summoned by the DSGI (General Direction of Internal Security) – France’s internal intelligence service and judicial police of the French Ministry charged with maintaining national security.

Both journalistes were suspected of compromising national defense secrets by publishing a « confidential defense » report. A total of eight journalists from this affair were summoned by the DGSI.

Disclose accepts their decision to investigate the selling of French armes to Saudi Arabia and claims responsibility for this type of investigative journalism. Disclose is a french non-profit investigative media for general interests launched on November 6, 2018.

During the facebook live, Mathias Destal, one of its cofounders started by discussing the relevance of « Made in France » for its first investigation. The investigations concerns the selling of French arms to Saudi Arabia which will be used in the war against Yemen. Geographically, the conflict’s victims are situated thousands of miles from France.

In fact, due to the information hierarchy, information about places far from France spark less interest within the general public who are either not concered or minimally concerned about this selling of arms.

« The international organizations know the truth about these arms being sold, but this knowledge was conditional and lacked evidence » confirms one of Disclose’s cofounders. This selling of arms, supported for months by NGO’s like Amnesty International was finally proven. Disclose started their investigation after leaked documents, classified as a « Confidential Denfense » report, drafted by the DRM (Direction of Military Reassingment) in September 2018 were brought to their attention. (The DRM is a French Intelligence Agency that collects and centralizes military intelligence information for the French Armed Forces).

This was the first time that an official authority confirmed the suspicions of the NGOs. It was out of the question for Disclose’s cofounders and journalistes to disregard information that can be classified as general interest. Without knowing if the investigation would explode in French Society, the journalists had been working for many months in order to cross-check all the nessicery information to prove that this was happening.

Disclose’s motivation in this investigation was to inform the public at large about the truths omitted by the executive powers.

« The goal is to inform the public at large about the truths that were omitted by exectutive powers. » For Michel Despratx, a journalist in this investigation, it was « a great time to put an end to the substantial debate between the NGOs and the French government » regarding the selling of arms. However, spreading documents classified as « Confidential Defense », is classified as an criminal offense punishable on average with 5 years of prison and a 75,000 euros fine for each person involved.

Journalists have a professional framework: the law regarding Freedom of the Press from 1881 that that needs to be acklowledged. On the other hand, they are also protected by their status as journalistes and their need to inform the public when the investigation sparked public interest. Despite all this, the government strongly reacted, and many summons were given by the DGSI.

Benoit Collombat, one of Disclose’s journalists testifies « DGSI wanted my sources, they asked me questions about how we work. » According to them, the message behind the convictions is « Stop your interests in these subjects! » For him, it is a kind of intimidation that does not scare him and will not stop him from contining to do his job and to inform the public.

Virginie Marquet, a lawyer for the Disclose journalists in this affair confirms that the framework from the 1881 law is not without fault and divulging documents classified as « confidential defense » is a new criminal offense. This framework is not protective enough for journalists.

« A journalist’s mission is to inform, fundamental liberty and they must be protected in the professional framework of this important mission for all of the citizens. The freedom of information and expression makes our society a democracy. Journalists should benefit from protection given to their work that is, in the end, a social mission.« 

The status of journalists is challenged

In some court meetings held by the DGSI, there was no reference to their quality of their journalism. The journalists were summoned as their personal titles, meaning their status as a journalist would be disregarded in these meetings and they would be considered ordinary citizens who had committed these offenses, thus separating their identities.

This was established with the goal of obtaining as much information as possible. « The fact that they are heard as a witness, for example, gives them less rights » Virginie Marquet confirms.

Michel Despratx did not answer any of the 30 questions asked by the assembly invoking each time, the protection of his sources. Pressure is exerted on the government Benoit Collombat confirms that these court meetings are « a way of delegitimizing the subject » which had a considerable impact in France. Contrary to what was expected, the public was very interested in this affair.

The population was aware of this problem and exerted pressure on the government. According to Disclose, at the assembly, politicians discussed that concrete actions were organized like blockades and protests against loading « Cesaers le 7 » (french arms) on May 7th. These actions prove the impact of the investigation. In effect, on May 7th, 2019, a Saudi Arabian cargo ship, Bahri Yanbu, arrived at the French port in Havre so that the French armes could be shipped to Saudi Arabia. The NGO’s ASER and ACAT blocked the loading of the cargo thanks to emergency intervention.

Le comité d’éthique des médias: un rempart à la liberté?

Dans le cadre des 12ème assises internationales du Journalisme de Tours, le collectif #Payetoiunjournaliste a proposé de donner la parole aux citoyens sur la question des médias avec la création d’un comité d’éthique. Avec une telle instance, certains journalistes craignent que leur liberté d’exercer soit menacée.

Un comité d’éthique, comment ça marche ?

Le comité d’éthique est un organe professionnel d’autorégulation composé de représentants des journalistes, des éditeurs et du public. Cette composition peut changer d’un pays à l’autre. En Italie, on y trouve uniquement des journalistes ; en Ukraine, des journalistes et du public ; en Grande-Bretagne, des éditeurs et du public ou encore en Allemagne où sont regroupés journalistes et éditeurs.

Aucun représentant des pouvoirs exécutif, judiciaire ou législatif ne participe au conseil puisqu’il est totalement indépendant de l’Etat et de la politique.

Ces professionnels et non-professionnels se saisissent des plaintes et revendications de lecteurs, d’auditeurs, de téléspectateurs, d’internautes. Ils émettent un avis après enquête contradictoire, sur la base de la déontologie journalistique. Cet avis est par la suite rendu public.

Les décisions favorables au plaignant sont parfois accompagnées d’un blâme à l’intention du journaliste et/ou du média. Le comité d’éthique condamne tout ce qui n’est pas passible de sanctions au tribunal. On note notamment la réprobation des publicités déguisées en articles, des « ménages » (animations de débats rémunérés au sein d’une entreprise ou organisation), des bidonnages comme la fausse interview de Fidel Castro par Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, des conflits d’intérêts ou encore des atteintes à la vie privée.

Copyright Dessin-Schwartz pour la SNJ

Et ailleurs en Europe ?

Depuis 1950, de nombreux pays se sont dotés d’un conseil de presse appelé aussi conseil de déontologie des médias ou comité d’éthique. On en compte aujourd’hui une centaine dans le monde.

La majorité des pays européens, une vingtaine, dont la Grande-Bretagne, l’Allemagne, la Suède, la Belgique, ont créé ces instances. En France, l’idée revient périodiquement d’instaurer un conseil de déontologie du journalisme.

La France est-elle en retard par rapport à ses voisins européens ?

Depuis les prémices du mouvement des Gilets Jaunes, la défiance de la population vis-à-vis des médias n’a jamais été aussi forte.

Un contexte qui amène à réfléchir à l’éventualité de créer un conseil de presse français. Certains y voient l’occasion de s’interroger sur la profession.

Copyright L’Express – 1964 – janvier

Le 15 mars, aux Assises du Journalisme, le ministre de la Culture Franck Riester a affirmé qu’il faut « retisser le lien entre les Français et les médias ».

Il existe déjà en France des comités d’éthiques spécifiques pour certains groupes de médias. Radio France, Le Monde ou encore France Télévisions disposent d’une chartre de déontologie et d’un conseil de presse à leur échelle.

Pierre Ganz, vice-président de l’Observatoire de la déontologie de l’information, durant les Assises de Tours note que « si tous les médias acceptent que leur travail soit examiné par un organisme indépendant, ce serait un outil qui permettrait de regagner la confiance du public. »


Il faut « retisser le lien entre les Français et les médias« .

Franck Riester, ministre de la Culture


Favorable à la création d’une telle instance, il est rejoint sur ce point par le SNJ (Syndicat Nationale des Journalistes).

Dans ses dix engagements, le syndicat national des journalistes note: « Le SNJ appelle [de ses vœux] la création d’une instance de déontologie paritaire et même tripartite, associant des représentants des salariés, des employeurs et du public. »

« Je propose qu’il existe un tribunal professionnel qui puisse être saisi et qui ait le pouvoir de sanction symbolique contre les menteurs, les tricheurs, les enfumeurs. Je vais donc lancer avec mes amis une pétition en ce sens. »

Ce sont les propos tenus par Jean-Luc Mélenchon suite à son passage dans l’Emission Politique sur France 2. En décembre 2017, au cours de sa campagne présidentielle, Jean-Luc Mélenchon relance l’idée d’une instance d’auto régulation en lançant une pétition plaidant pour la création d’un « conseil de déontologie du journalisme ».

Le chef de fil de la France Insoumise avait déclaré sur son blog que « la haine des médias et de ceux qui les animent est juste et saine ».

Devenu l’ex ministre de la culture, Françoise Nyssen (mai 2017 à octobre 2018) qui était alors en poste, est allée dans le sens de Jean-Luc Mélenchon en annonçant le lancement d’une mission sur la déontologie de la presse.

Un conseil qui, en cas de création prochaine, aura à sa tête l’ancien PDG de l’AFP et de l’INA Emmanuel Hoog.

Les inconvénients du comité d’éthique

Une limite commune à la majorité des comités d’éthique concerne la justice.

En effet, sur le plan juridique, le Conseil de Presse est une association à but non lucratif. Lorsque ce dernier diffuse un blâme, il ne dispose d’aucune immunité. Il risque donc de devoir répondre de ses propos devant les tribunaux. En d’autres termes, le journaliste ayant reçu un blâme peut se retourner contre le comité de presse et l’astreindre devant les tribunaux.

Ceux-ci auront à déterminer si les évaluations, jugements et opinions exprimés par le Conseil ont ou non pas, un caractère fautif au regard de la loi.

Outre les limites juridiques constatées, certains journalistes expriment leurs craintes face à une forme de censure de la presse. Selon le SPIIL, le syndicat de la presse indépendante d’information en ligne, cette idée n’arrive pas au bon moment, le contexte politique étant bien trop défavorable.

copyright Plantu – Le Monde

Sur son site internet, le syndicat déclare qu’il « n’appartient pas à l’État de susciter la création d’une instance d’autorégulation de la presse. Un Conseil né sous de tels auspices n’aura jamais la légitimité nécessaire. Seule une réflexion sereine issue de la profession elle-même et non du pouvoir politique permettrait d’envisager les contours d’un Conseil de déontologie ambitieux.« 

Pour le directeur de la rédaction d’OWNI, Guillaume Dasquié, la création d’un organe auto-régulateur n’est pas envisageable puisque le journalisme est « un milieu qui vit grâce à ses conflits, petits et grands. […] Les métiers de la presse se nourrissent de diversités mais aussi de divergences, d’antagonismes, voire de rapports concurrentiels animés. »

Il n’est donc pas concevable selon Guillaume Dasquié de créer une instance régulant la moindre discorde dans le but de lisser le paysage médiatique.

Clash

Il n’existe pas d’instance nationale contrôlant l’éthique des journalistes. Le 16 juillet 2014, une proposition de loi présentée par Jean-François Mancel allant en ce sens n’avait finalement pas vu le jour.

Dans cette proposition, le député UMP s’inspire en grande partie du projet du Conseil de déontologie journalistique de la Belgique francophone. Il explique que les Français ne comprennent pas qu’une corporation aussi puissante que le journalisme ne soit pas encadrée par un conseil indépendant.

En 2014, le fossé entre médias et citoyens se veut important ; la communication entre les deux parties est au bord de la rupture.

Le député rapporte « que 77 % des Français ne font pas confiance aux médias« . Composée de 8 articles, cette proposition n’a finalement pas convaincu les résistants comme Olivier Da Lage, journaliste à RFI. Il reproche au député de vouloir « inventer l’ordre des journalistes » et « mettre sous tutelle » la profession.

A ce jour, un comité d’éthique est en passe d’être créé en France. Jeudi 16 mai s’est tenu à Vanves une réunion entre éditeurs, journalistes et représentants du public pour poser les bases d’un futur conseil de médiation et de déontologie journalistique. L’objectif ? Que cette instance voit le jour d’ici la fin de l’année 2019.

Nouvelle avancée sur ce « Conseil de l’ordre des journalistes ». Cédric O, secrétaire d’Etat au Numérique, invite les journalistes à s’organiser pour lutter contre les fausses nouvelles et la désinformation, faute de quoi c’est l’Etat qui s’en chargera. Interview par Reuters le 20 juin 2019

The State of the Press in Egypt: a Fallen Champion

Ranked 161st in the World Press Freedom Index 2018 from Reporters Without Borders, contemporary Egypt is characterized by a rapid deterioration in press freedom, subject to severe censorship and draconian state control.

Though Egypt is the source of the spread of the printing press in the Arab world, successive governments have progressively limited freedom of expression up until today, in which one wonders what remains of a space for independant, critical, and free media coverage.

The press in Egypt: on the rise in the 19th century

It is difficult to imagine that what has become a prison for journalists was once an important place for breaking news and broadcasting in the Arab world.

Returning to the era of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, the printing press rapidly developed throughout the 19th century, with the emergence of outstanding newspapers circulating the streets of Cairo.

Notably, Al-Ahram, founded in 1875, proved itself as one of the country’s most read papers. Today, Al-Ahram is a major point of reference for many daily newspapers in the country.However, the variety of Egyptian media does not reflect diversity in its content.

In reality, media publishing has been standardized to the point of becoming a mere reflection of the inescapable discourse imposed by the state.

How does the Egyptian State censor the freedom to inform?

Observing the current media landscape illustrates this lack of freedom of expression and information in today’s Egypt.

The process of restructuring the media through a systematic transfer of ownership is indicative of what Reporters Without Borders calls the « Sisyphication of the media.”

In this respect, the Media Ownership Monitor launched by Reporters Without Borders in Egypt is highly informative. The survey of structures, relationships and key actors that control the Egyptian media not only reveals the state’s pervasive presence in broadcasting, but also denounces the intervention of security and intelligence services.

This is the case of the broadcasting and satellite television sector dominated by The Egyptian Media Group, which is indirectly controlled by the secret service. Similarly, the printing sector is either concentrated around well-known state-owned enterprises, such as the Al-Ahram Establishment, or linked to private institutions owned by wealthy businessmen loyal to the regime.

Unsurprisingly, in this context of total state control, independent media and journalists are running a higher and higher risk. In addition to banning hundreds of websites, prison seems to be the regime’s preferred instrument for silencing disagreeing voices.

According to a study conducted by Reporters Without Borders in early 2019, at least 32 journalists have been arrested on charges of « threatening national security » or « defamation ».

Their profiles suggest that all journalists working independently or on sensitive topics are almost certainly destined for prison. This is the case of Mahmoud Abu Zeid, better known as Shawkan, a photographer who specializes in recording the violent repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Mohammed al Husseini Hassan, a journalist investigating current inflation in Egypt. The list could go on and on…

Yet this extreme state control is not limited to eliminating freedom of expression in journalism.

A repression of all forms if the freedom to inform

The repression is so widespread that it can affect all areas. Not only activists, but also poets, singers, artists, researchers, writers and bloggers can all potentially fall into the category of people who pose a threat to national security.

As a result, freedom of expression poses a very high risk under what the Deputy Director of the Project on Democracy in the Middle East (POMED), Andrew Miller, called « the most repressive government in modern Egyptian history.”

Local and international human rights organizations relentlessly denounce the practices of the Egyptian authorities that are aimed at suppressing peaceful dissent. Because of this dedicated work, they face serious threats. Among other things, POMED refers to the case of certain human rights defenders of notable NGOs, such as the Cairo Institute for the Study of Human Rights (CNCDH), the Arab Network for Information on Human Rights human rights (ANHRI), the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), accused in a lawsuit « of offending the Egyptian state, of threatening the national security and of harming the country’s interests ».

Once again, fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and information are flagrantly violated under the current state of emergency in the name of the fight against terrorism and national security.

Censorship, danger and prison are key words that come to mind when one thinks about journalism in Egypt.

In a country where journalism has become a crime, as the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy reports, freedom of expression and information may become mere abstract concepts in people’s minds. This is an alarming scenario that erases even the last traces of Egypt’s distinguished past as champion of the advancement of the press and information in the Arab world.

Zoom: being a journalist in contemporary Egypt

In examining the general situation of freedom of expression and information in contemporary Egypt, it is natural to wonder what journalistic work might look like in this difficult context.

We asked Yahia Dabbous, an Egyptian student currently studying at Sciences Po School of International Business, to describe his experience as an editor of the online paper Egypt Independent.

His testimony emphasizes not only the severe control exercised by the state over the published content, but also the resulting instinctive tendency of self-censorship.

In a context where any subject can be extremely sensitive, the question of what is allowed and not allowed becomes an all-consuming thought. As a result, the journalist’s pen travels preferably within these imposed (or self-imposed) limits, leaving little or no room for the journalist’s own analysis, accuracy and creativity.

Yahia gives us several examples to illustrate the difficulty of writing and publishing articles in today’s Egypt.

Notably, in the days leading up to the presidential election of 2018, reporting news of the various arrests and withdrawals of potential candidates against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi proved to be a delicate task.

For information only, the article would mention such an event; for security reasons, it would only quote the official statement, with no subsequent comments.

As Yahia describes his experience, and new facets of the profession of journalism in Egypt emerge. Among other things, the economic aspect presents itself as an urgent challenge for journalists.

Yahia recalls several colleagues who had to work two jobs to earn enough. According to Yahia, a journalist’s salary can not guarantee enough resources, especially to support a family. While journalism in today’s Egypt is clearly a risky and not very rewarding profession at various levels, Yahia’s story also highlights the ethical issues that journalists face when working for newspaper.

Media coverage of the story of Mahmoud Abu Zeid, a journalist selected for the UNESCO Press Freedom Prize and imprisoned for covering the 2013 Rabaa event, is an example of such a challenge.

The national press mainly broadcast the official narrative around a journalist described as « terrorist » and « criminal » by the regime. Knowing Mahmoud Abu Zeid personally, his story, and his work, Yahia and other editors refused to publish such an article and were faced with the only alternative: to leave the paper.

Thus ended prematurely Yahia’s experience as an editor of Egypt Independent. Yahia’s story reflects our understanding of the implications of this drastic state control on the media.

What may sometimes appear as the abstract concept of freedom of expression is rather a primordial human right whose impact on society and individuals has never been more concrete.