Staff at Cypriot paper fear for their lives

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4 March 2011

Death-threat editor thanks CIoJ for support

By Amanda Brodie and Campbell Thomas

STAFF at a Turkish Cypriot newspaper, whose editor has received death threats, have spoken of fears for their safety.

Two shots were fired at the northern Cyprus building of the daily paper Afrika, (February 25) and a note was left threatening editor Sener Levent that if he continued writing, he would be killed.

Speaking to the Chartered Institute of Journalists this week (3 March) Mr Levent’s brother Osman, a reporter on the paper, said: “We are very grateful and pleased to have your support and will keep you updated with events over here – if we are still alive.”

He added they hoped the Turkish authorities would note their reaction was being monitored internationally.

Mr Levent said: “We are all targets, especially Sener. We get these threatening calls from Turkish nationalists, and they tell us what they want to do to us.

“The latest was the two gunshots at the door. They left a note that said: ‘To Sener. This time we do it like this, but next time you won’t be alive.’

“They don’t like us because we want to decide our future as Cypriots, and they take their orders from Turkey. We don’t like Turkey telling us what to do, so they don’t like what we write – but we will keep writing.”

Afrika journalists joined thousands of Turkish Cypriots who marched on Wednesday (March 2) in the Turkish sector of the divided Cypriot capital, Nicosia, protesting at Ankara-inspired spending cuts.

In one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in north Cyprus, the underlying message from the estimated 25,000 protesters was resentment at what they see as efforts by Turkey to exert more control over the Turkish Cypriots.

Police confronted Sener Levent and Afrika staff and seized flags of the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus. Hundreds waved banners reading, “This is our country, let’s run it ourselves” and “Take your hands off Turkish Cypriots” The presence of such flags angered Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan at a previous demonstration in Nicosia in January.

The CIoJ said: “We completely condemn the threats against Mr Levent, and are happy to support our colleagues in the Greek Cypriot Journalists’ Union (ESK) who have called for the international community to speak out about this intimidation.

“This is not just a threat to an individual, but to freedom of the Press, and to democracy itself. This sort of criminal act should not be tolerated, and we call on the Turkish authorities to act swiftly to ensure the safety of journalists in northern Cyprus.”

The CIoJ has contacted the Turkish Consul-General in London to express concern at the situation.


Notes for editors

• In 2001 a bomb destroyed Afrika’s printing presses. No one was ever arrested for the attack.

• In July 1996, Turkish Cypriot journalist and writer Kutlu Adali, a strong critic of the practices and policies of Turkey, was gunned down outside his home.

CIoJ Welcomes new Publicity Code

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Press Release

Date: 15 February 2011

THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS (CIoJ) welcomes the statement from Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, that local authorities will be prevented from publishing weekly or monthly free-sheet newspapers. The CIoJ has made representations on this matter for some time, essentially on the basis that such publications threatened press freedom at the local level.

Threats to press freedom are threats to democracy. The CIoJ believes local newspapers are at the very heart of the communities they serve. They are unique when it comes to the breadth of information they cover in the community. Few other bodies watch and campaign against abuse and incompetence of local organisations.

While there could be journalist job losses as the weekly council papers end, these will be nothing compared to the staggering loss of jobs already experienced within commercial newspapers, caused by the predatory behaviour of the publicly funded council free-sheets.

As a firmly apolitical organisation, the CIoJ would have regarded this action in a positive light regardless of which political party was in government.


CRISIS IN EGYPT: Downing Street responds to Institute concerns

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DATE: 9 February 2011

THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE has responded to calls by the Chartered Institute of Journalists for the Government to speak out against attacks on the media in Egypt.

As the civil unrest and crisis in Egypt unfolds, journalists covering the protests against the leadership of President Hosni Mubarak have been deliberately targeted both by protesters and the authorities. Many reporters have been beaten up and arrested for simply doing their jobs.

The CIoJ expressed deep concern about the situation direct to the Government and, as The Journal was about to go to press, we were told by a Downing Street spokesman: “We have been gravely concerned by the particular situation faced by journalists in Cairo and elsewhere in recent days.

“We continue to raise such cases with the Egyptian authorities. The Government has been clear since the start of the current crisis in Egypt that freedom of speech and of assembly must be respected, and that the Egyptian Government must respond to the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people through reform, not repression.”

In a statement he issued with the Heads of Government of France, Germany, Spain and Italy, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, specifically singled out attacks against journalists, which he described as “completely unacceptable”.

The PM said: “We are watching with utmost concern the deteriorating situation in Egypt. The Egyptian people must be able to exercise freely their right to peaceful assembly, and enjoy the full protection of the security forces.

“We condemn all those who use or encourage violence, which will only aggravate the political crisis in Egypt. Only a quick and orderly transition to a broad-based Government will make it possible to overcome the challenges Egypt is now facing. That transition process must start now.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that the Egyptian government has unleashed an “unprecedented and systematic attack on international media,” with the regime’s supporters assaulting reporters in the streets and security forces obstructing and detaining journalists who are covering the uprising.

“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The systematic and sustained attacks leave no doubt that a government-orchestrated effort to target the media and suppress the news is well under way.”

In one 24-hour period alone, CPJ recorded 30 detentions, 26 assaults, and eight instances of equipment being seized. In addition, plainclothes and uniformed agents reportedly entered at least two hotels used by international journalists to confiscate press equipment.

Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said: “The attacks on journalists have now intensified to levels unseen in Egypt’s modern history. We are concerned for the safety of our colleagues, and we’re alarmed at the prospect of these witnesses being sidelined at this crucial moment in Egyptian history.”

The European Council has also condemned the violence, stating: “Any attempt to restrict the free flow of information, including aggression and intimidation directed against journalists and human rights defenders, is unacceptable.”

The calls have been joined by the White House which has issued a statement listing four steps the United States wants Egypt to take, including: “Restraining the Ministry of Interior’s conduct by immediately ending the arrests, harassment, beating, and detention of journalists, and political and civil society activists, and by allowing freedom of assembly and expression.”

CIoJ reminds minister that journalists will still adhere to code

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DATE: 2 February 2011

THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS (CIoJ) has written to the Commons select committee for Culture, Media and Sport, pointing out that despite what publishers may or may not do, professional journalists will still adhere to their professional ethics.

In the wake of the Express Newspaper Group pulling out of Pressbof and effectively, therefore, the PCC, much has been rightly made of the need to underpin the public’s confidence by adhering to the scheme.

However, despite what publishers may or may not do, the CIoJ has reminded ministers that the journalists who work on the paper will still respect their professional ethics and adhere to the Editor’s Code as a matter of course during their daily working lives.

“Many journalists have the Editor’s Code written into their contracts of employment,” reminded CIoJ President, Norman Bartlett, “and those journalists who belong to the Institute commit to the code as a condition of their membership. Members of the public can, therefore, be reassured that journalists still respect their professional ethics during the course of their work.”


Danbury journalist honoured

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AT A RECEPTION at the National Liberal Club in London, Danbury journalist Norman Bartlett was installed last week (20 January) as the President of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

He introduced Maldon MP, John Whittingdale, who spoke on the commercial and technical issues facing journalism and broadcasting today. He mentioned particularly the danger of investigative journalism being threatened by the courts.

“It is vital that the press is able to report on freely on abuses and failures,” he said.

Whittingdale is the Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport.

Bartlett is a long-time Danbury resident whose journalism has taken him to many countries, reporting on travel, transport, engineering and information technology.

The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the oldest organisation of its kind in the world. It was founded in 1884 and was awarded a Royal Charter in 1890. The CIoJ is a non-political membership organisation based in London but open to all professional journalists, editors and broadcasters worldwide.

“Live to Tell” – Invitation to debate safety of journalists

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The International News Safety Institute (INSI) invites you to a critical debate on the safety of journalists under current and future threat.

INSI, a non-profit charity backed by a unique coalition of concerned news organisations, humanitarian groups and individual journalists, seeks to help colleagues survive all kinds of hostile environments, from killings and kidnappings to warfare and natural disasters. It is the only journalist organisation in the world solely focused on safety.

In the past seven years the threats have multiplied and circumstances surrounding reporting have changed. Technology takes journalists ever closer to danger, citizen journalism and the new media expose many newcomers to the threats the professionals have long faced, the Internet makes journalists dispensable to criminal groups that once needed them for publicity, kidnapping has proliferated — and impunity for the killers of journalists has encouraged more of the same.

INSI is reorganising to better address the issues. It aims to strengthen its regional ties to areas where many journalists work in daily danger, such as South East Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, while reinforcing its global information and safety training work.

It is holding a series of safety debates with leading media practitioners to focus on and analyse the issues of today – and prepare for tomorrow.

The next discussion will be in Athens, Greece, on 10 November 2010, the day before the annual News Xchange broadcaster convention. The event, Live To Tell, will be held at the Foreign Press Association 23, Academias Street Athens from 1000 to 1530. It will be followed by INSI’s Annual General Meeting at which members will be asked to approve a new Constitution to carry the organisation forward.

Keynote speaker is David Schlesinger, Editor-in-Chief of Reuters. He will be joined by Oliver Vujovic, Secretary-General of the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), Gavin Rees, Director of Dart Centre Europe, Reuters Chief Photographer Yannis Behrakis and other major press and broadcast figures.

The event will be presented by global media figure Elizabeth Filippouli, former presenter and correspondent for ERT, CNN and Al Jazeera.

Please come and add your experience and voice to help shape a safer future for journalists around the world.

RSVP by 30 October 2010 to:

Rodney Pinder, Director, email:

Freedom of Information enforcement action

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today published a list of organisations that are being monitored because it appears they are not meeting the requirement to respond to freedom of information requests on time.


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21 -23 June, 2010

Several Pandora’s boxes were opened up to members of the CIoJ who went on an information visit to Brussels in mid-June. Members went on a three-day visit to NATO, SHAPE and some of the European Union institutions. They had useful meetings with senior officials and informed specialists at each institution visited.

The visit concentrated on the defence of Europe and on how the different institutions co-operate to ensure Europe’s security.

Organised by CIoJ Brussels representative John Szemerey, the visit was made possible by specially low prices offered by Eurostar and by the Adagio aparthotel in central Brussels, and by the generosity of the European Parliament and NATO which gave grants to members of the visiting group to help them with costs.

At or after the visit most of the institutions to which the group went offered to put CIoJ members on their mailing lists relating to different policy areas so they could follow developments in the EU and at NATO and SHAPE in fields that interested them and on which they normally write or report.

The CIoJ visit included a whole day at NATO, meeting senior officials and also having a discussion session with a panel of three top members of the UK mission to NATO. This was followed by a half day visit to SHAPE at Mons, in South Belgium. SHAPE is the military organisation that in fact executes most NATO decisions.

In the EU institutions the visiting group had meetings with spokesmen for the new President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, and of the new EU Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton, officially known as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The visit finished with half a day at the European Parliament thanks to Sarah Ludford MEP, who officially sponsored the CIoJ’s visit and to our affiliate member, Mary Honeyball, MEP, who helped arrange a session with representatives of five of the EP’s political groups.

“Three days in Brussels is too short to see and hear everything,” says the outgoing chairman of the CIoJ’s international division, John Szemerey, “but it showed us some key changes in the EU, following the Lisbon Treaty. And we saw how NATO and SHAPE have altered their policies and activities following the end of the Cold War to continue protecting Europe from external attacks, either by force or via the Internet.”

CIoJ welcomes Select Committee findings

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CIoJ welcomes Select Committee findings

The first job for the ‘Commons Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee after the election should be to push the Department for Communities and Local Government into action over council-run newspapers.

“Having highlighted the breaches on government guidelines for these propaganda sheets, the MPs who will form the new Select Committee should make it their urgent business to see that the controversy is ended once and for all time,” the Chartered Institute of Journalists said today.

The Institute had complained earnestly to the Select Committee during its investigations that these so-called newspapers were a grave threat to the continuance of established local newspapers, were one-sided and were a wrong use of public money at a time of austerity. “The report is a vindication of our views,” said Robin Morgan, Chairman of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board.”

“Generally speaking we welcome the Committee’s findings but there is a long way between its’ recommendations and seeing them put into practice – and the general election will not help speed things through. We hope a new Parliament does not create a new Select Committee membership that has different ideas, throwing our industry’s problems back into the melting pot,” he said.


Note to Editors

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.

Members’ visit to NATO, SHAPE and the European Parliament in June

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A lively, informative visit has been prepared for CIoJ members to Brussels, for meetings at NATO, SHAPE, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

Members will spend three days in Brussels, going over on Sunday, 20th June for an early morning departure to NATO the following morning. After NATO the group will have meetings at the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, followed by a half day at SHAPE’s headquarters in Mons on Wednesday, 23rd June. From there members will be taken straight to Brussels’ Midi Station where they will catch the Eurostar back to London.

Costs have been kept down to a minimum, and they will fall even lower if there are 20 persons in the group, as the European Parliament has offered a grant of about €135 (£116.50) per head if the group consists of at least 20.

Members will stay in a very new aparthotel in the very centre of Brussels. It is the Adagio, Brussels Centre Monnaie, on the Boulevard Anspach – just next door to the metro line that takes one straight to the European institutions. It is also only a few steps to the famous Grand’ Place and the excellent restaurants in the Rue des Bouchers. Further, it is right next door to the Brussels casino to which entrance is free, and where one can get modestly-priced meals and drinks. The Adagio, which is on the site of a former department store, opened on 1st December, 2009.

The programme will include a whole day visit to NATO, to hear about NATO’s tasks and activities in post Cold War Europe, and half a day at SHAPE.(Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), the military wing of NATO. Last but not least there will be a half day visit to the European Parliament to hear about the parliament’s increased responsibilities and activities following the coming into effect of the Lisbon Treaty, and to meet members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from different political groups.