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Thursday, May 3, 2007

World Press Freedom Day

On the eve of World Press Freedom Day on May 2, Member of Parliament and Minister of Fuel and Energy, B. Erdenebat, stated that he would take the Notstoi Medee (Serious News), a tri-monthly periodical, to court.

Erdenebat, one of the founders of the daily the Mongoliin Medee, said that the Notstoi Medee had harmed not only his own reputation but also that of his family, colleagues, and friends, by publishing a series of reports saying he had paid a Tg5 billion bribe to the Speaker of Parliament, Ts. Nyamdorj.

Mongolian press is pluralist, but journalists remain at risk of prison sentences for “defamation” and “violation of state secrets”, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2007 World Press Freedom Index report. “Media which exposed corruption within society were censored.” The report has stressed that the Government of Mongolia continues to use public radio and television as a tool for promoting itself.

An international organization IFEX (International Freedom of Expression of Exchange) said on May 1 that S. Delger, Director of the Shine Suvag TV (New Channel), the only private television channel in Dornod province, had received death threats from an unidentified person or persons. A letter that read “I will kill you” was left at her apartment door on April 5, reported IFEX.

“The following day, insulting vulgar messages addressed to her were painted on the wall of her apartment building.”
She believes that the threats stem from a TV program shown on the channel about the political situation in Dornod province. The channel broadcast programs paid for by the Civil Will Party and the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.

In another development, Ts. Tungalag, Chairperson of Citizens’ Representative Hural of Chingeltei District, last week stated that she would sue the Niigmiin Toli for stories published there about her. These have said that Tungalag pressured her fellow members of the local legislative body to sign a letter to a state law enforcement body asking it to defend Ts.Tumengerel, who was a member of the Hural. Tumengerel, director of a bankrupt private financial institution, was sentenced to death by a court last week for the murder last year of Ch.Badraa, chief of the Financial Regulatory Authority.

Today, RSF announced that it updated list of "predators of press freedom".
24 journalists and 5 media assistants have been killed so far this year.
124 journalists, 4 media assistants and 66 cyber-dissidents are in prison around the world.
13 journalists are being held hostage in various countries.
This list of 34 "predators" comprises men and women who directly attack journalists or order others to. Most are top political figures but militia chiefs, leaders of armed groups and drug-traffickers are also included.

In 2007, the presidents of Laos and Azerbaijan joined the list of these major enemies of press freedom, along with Mexican drug cartels who killed several journalists. The king of Nepal and the country's Maoist leaders were taken off the list after the national ceasefire between the two sides and a return to peace. You can see faces and biographies of those "predators" on www.rsf.org

There is an interesting thing, for the first time, RSF is offering, through Google Earth, a virtual view of the homes, palaces, and workplaces of most of them.

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