Sustained crackdown on independent reporting in Morocco

first_img Help by sharing this information Media freedom has been in retreat in the past few months in Morocco, as the kingdom’s authorities have cracked down on journalists and three government bills that could improve the legislative environment for the media have stalled in parliament. Organisation April 15, 2021 Find out more Morocco / Western SaharaMiddle East – North Africa RSF joins Middle East and North Africa coalition to combat digital surveillance News News News Follow the news on Morocco / Western Sahara NSO Group hasn’t kept its promises on human rights, RSF and other NGOs say Receive email alerts News RSF_en April 28, 2021 Find out more March 5, 2015 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Sustained crackdown on independent reporting in Morocco Morocco / Western SaharaMiddle East – North Africa Hunger strike is last resort for some imprisoned Moroccan journalists to go further Officials have above all been putting pressure on the press to ensure that “sensitive” subjects are not covered in a free and independent manner.One of the most spectacular examples of this crackdown was the deportation on 16 February of French journalists Jean-Louis Perez and Pierre Chautard, who were doing a report for France 3 on the economic and social situation in Morocco four years after the “Moroccan Spring.”Before seizing their video recordings and putting them on a flight to Paris, the authorities “arrested” them at the headquarters of Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), one of the country’s leading human rights NGOs, which the interior ministry has accused of “undermining the actions of the security forces.” This operation was carried by about 20 police officers and representatives of the Rabat wilaya (regional government), who injured an activist as they stormed into the AMDH’s headquarters.In a release following the raid, Reporters Without Borders condemned this disgraceful act of censorship and urged the authorities to return the confiscated video material.In January, a France 24 crew was prevented from filming a programme in the series “Hadith Al Awassim” (Debated in Capital Cities) in an auditorium it had rented in Rabat. Accompanied by police officers, an interior ministry official arrived and ordered the journalists to cut short the filming of the programme (entitled “Can we laugh about everything?”). He also confiscated the video footage they had recorded, returning it the next day after viewing it.Without giving any explanation, the authorities prevented an international conference on investigative journalism from being held in a Rabat hotel on 22 January on the initiative of Germany’s Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Journalists and experts from Morocco, France, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and other countries, as well as Moroccan communication minister Mustapha El Khalfi, were to have taken part but, on the eve of the conference, the interior ministry gave the hotel’s management verbal instructions to prevent it from taking place.As a result, the organizers had to change the venue and hold the conference at the AMDH’s headquarters without the minister.Sahrawi journalist Mahmod Al-Lhaissan was released provisionally on 25 February, eight months after his arrest in El Aaiún, the capital of Western Sahara (a territory controlled by Morocco since 1975) but is still facing trial on charges of participating in an “armed gathering,” obstructing a public thoroughfare, attacking officials while they were on duty, and damaging public property.Lhaissan is a reporter for a TV station operated by the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi pro-independence movement backed by Algeria. According to local NGOs, he was arrested because of his coverage of Sahrawi demonstrations after an Algeria-Germany World Cup match on 30 June that quickly took on a pro-independence character. His coverage drew attention to the force used by the Moroccan police to disperse demonstrators.Meanwhile, the three media reform bills – on “press and publishing,” the “status of professional journalists” and the “National Press Council” – that the communication ministry unveiled on 18 October have yet to be adopted by parliament.In its comments on the reform package in November, Reporters Without Borders noted that the abolition of prison sentences for most media offences (but not insulting the king or religion or “endangering” territorial integrity) was one of its most innovative aspects.But journalists fear that disproportionate and exorbitant fines will replace prison terms, and are calling for changes to the legislative package.“The provisions on the confidentiality of journalists’ sources and defamation proceedings are a big step forward but they need to be tightened and reinforced in order to constitute effective guarantees,” Reporters Without Borders said. June 8, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

Information in Afghanistan, Covid-19 adds to problems from war

first_img As the coronavirus spreads in Afghanistan, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) are concerned about its impact on the country’s journalists, especially women journalists, who are more vulnerable. They are threatened by economic precarity, the lack of protection and fierce competition between media outlets in the race for the news. Afghanistan is ranked 121st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index. AfghanistanAsia – Pacific Protecting journalists Armed conflictsWomenInternet – Ensure that the media outlet’s medical service checks crews about to be sent to suspected infection sites to ensure that none of them has any inappropriate medical condition such as asthma, diabetes or a cold. Report at all costs RSF asks International Criminal Court to investigate murders of journalists in Afghanistan AfghanistanAsia – Pacific Protecting journalists Armed conflictsWomenInternet These difficulties are compounded by economic problems, which have forced many media outlets to lay off journalists or switch to part-time working without pay, with women journalists often the first to be laid off. In some provinces, including Kabul, Herat and Balkh, some women journalists have been asked to work on a volunteer basis, while others have been laid off. Receive email alerts On 30 March, the health ministry reported 196 cases of Covid-19 in Afghanistan – 106 of them in Herat – and at least five deaths. Local journalists believe the real figures are much higher. Neighbouring Iran, where the WHO reports a major outbreak, is refusing to treat Afghan refugees without legal status, with the result that more than 70,000 had reportedly returned to Afghanistan via the provinces of Herat and Nimroz by 20 March. Afghanistan’s frail public health system relies above all on funding by the United States (via USAID), the World Bank and the European Commission. As the US is conditioning assistance to the Afghan government on its peace efforts, the current fraught political situation means the health system is weaker than normal. May 3, 2021 Find out more Recommendations: Organisation – Protect reporting staff in the field by providing them with face masks, gloves and disinfectant gel and wipes to clean equipment and work stations, so that they can report the news while staying healthy and not spreading the virus. Similar measures have been taken at the TV channel Zan (Woman), where the newsroom’s personnel are now teleworking. Several international media outlets have nonetheless been forced to lay off staff, especially in the provinces, and women journalists have been the first to be affected by the economies and the dismissals. April 2, 2020 Information in Afghanistan, Covid-19 adds to problems from war “We are continuing to work despite the economic difficulties resulting from the epidemic,” he said. “Most of our journalists are teleworking and we communicate via WhatsApp or other information sharing methods. It’s the same in the regions, where only the absolutely essential reporters are going into the field. We managed to buy protective material for our journalists but we had to lay off some of them without pay.” – Increase Internet bandwidth so that journalists and media outlets are guaranteed a constant connection at an affordable cost. For media and journalists- Guarantee the public’s right to full, independent, diverse and quality news reporting, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ensure the flow of information needed to protect the population. Several media outlet such as Tolo News, Afghanistan’s biggest TV news channel, have adopted specific protection measures for their women employees. “After fighting tirelessly for 19 years to report the news despite the war, Afghan journalists must now combat another calamity in the form of the virus,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Afghanistan /Iran desk. “They must urgently be given the resources to do their job so that they can continue to cover the peace talks and the reality of the pandemic in Afghanistan.” Afghanistan : “No just and lasting peace in Afghanistan without guarantees for press freedom” News Situation getting more critical for Afghan women journalists, report says “Our job is to inform the public properly in order to better combat the spread of Covid-19,” Tolo News chief Lotfullah Najafizadeh said. “Nearly 30% of our staff, who are not directly related to news, have switched to teleworking, while pregnant women and young mothers have been urged to suspend working. We have trained journalists about the health measures to take while working, and we have distributed masks and disinfectant gel. All this without any help from the government.” News “One of the government’s priorities is to provide transparent information and prevent any attempts to hide the truth about the virus’s spread,” Vice-President Sarwar Danesh said. “This is why we have created the special committee for combatting Covid-19, which comprises several government entities as well as bringing in the private sector. Its mission is to provide information to the news media and social media, which have a key role to play in this crisis. To offset the [press conference] coverage ban and to avoid gatherings, the government is making videos available to the media and is talking via teleconference.” – Ensure that every journalist adheres to the rules of journalistic ethics, especially at a time when when “fake news” can have serious consequences. – Provide reporters with cellophane or another protective material for microphones, and microphone poles to maintain a distance with interviewees; encourage the use of autonomous crews to reduce toing and froing between the field and headquarters; ensure that each crew keeps using the same equipment; ban the use of clip-on microphones because they are too close to the mouth, and disinfect microphones after use; encourage the use of video chat apps such as Skype and Facetime for interviews. Always respect physical distancing rules. Help by sharing this information Double jeopardy for women to go further Although the Afghan government has adopted public health measures such as a lockdown in certain cities such as Kabul and Kandahar and some media outlets have switched to teleworking, the virus continues to spread and journalists are often exposed. Spreading virus Follow the news on Afghanistan June 2, 2021 Find out more News – Make facemasks and disinfect gel and wipes available to the media.  For the government- Make special resources available to the media so they can fulfil their mission of reporting the news, including economic assistance to media outlets in difficulty; cancel taxes for the current year, and guarantee the salaries of journalists who have been partially laid off, especially women journalists, who are two-fold victims of this situation. “Women journalist are not just the first victims of the climate of insecurity and the war but also the most exposed to Covid-19, as they are denied the resources for taking care of themselves,” CPAWJ director Farida Nekzad said. “We tallied 1,741 women working for Afghan media outlets on 8 March, 1,139 of them professional journalists. The authorities must do everything possible to ensure that all these women can continue to do their work of reporting the news.” RSF_en To combat the spread of the epidemic, a lockdown in Kabul and certain other major cities such as Herat, the epidemic’s epicentre, was announced by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on 28 March. News – Do not force journalists to go out reporting in the absence of the necessary safety conditions. Allow them the right to pull out if they think there is a danger for themselves or anyone else, and ensure that managers and editors respect such decisions. The virus is not discouraging Pajhwok Afghan News agency chief Danish Karokhel, who is under lockdown with 15 of his employees at the agency’s headquarters in order to keep reporting. March 11, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

World Bank to finance storage development in Asia, Africa

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ECN News:Solar energy could be a huge source of power in Africa, but its potential has been stymied by storage batteries that are too expensive and inadequate for use in poor countries.The World Bank aims to break through that bottleneck, announcing plans Wednesday to invest $1 billion—and leverage it by another $4 billion—to boost developing countries’ energy storage capacity from 4.5 to 17.5 gigawatt hours by 2025.Africa, where solar power is an “unmissable” source of energy, will be the first to benefit, said Riccardo Puliti, head of energy practice at the World Bank. Bangladesh and other developing countries of Southeast Asia also will benefit from the World Bank’s investment, which aims to stimulate a fledgling market and to create a “virtuous circle.”“We want to develop the market for batteries in developing countries,” Puliti told AFP. “Storage has a great future.”Lithium batteries are available today, but they are made principally for electric vehicles. Instead, the World Bank would like to see affordable batteries that are scaled to village life, capable of lasting seven or eight hours at night, resistant to extreme temperatures and require little maintenance.The cost is a crucial factor. Today, the best batteries available in industrialized countries cost $200 to $300 per kilowatt hour of installed capacity, or less. In developing countries, they are prohibitively expensive, ranging in price from $400 to $700 per kilowatt hour. The World Bank’s goal is to bring those prices down in the coming years.More: World Bank bets big on batteries for solar energy boost World Bank to finance storage development in Asia, Africalast_img read more

New Estonian pension provider crowdfunding start-up capital

first_imgBy Tuleva’s reckoning, the management company, once established, will be sustainable once 3,000 members join and transfer their existing second pillar savings.The mandatory second pillar currently has close to 685,870 member and €2.7bn of assets.As of 23 August the association was half way past its target, with €1.53m of capital collected since the end of April, and a membership of 1,700 acquired entirely by social media and word-of-mouth.Members pay an up-front fee of €100 and pledge to bring in their second-pillar savings.The first 3,000 members can also make an additional voluntary contribution of between €1,000 and €10,000 to the start-up capital, fully returnable if the fund management company is not established by the end of next July, in return for a higher profit share.According to Pekk, a former chief executive of GA Fund Management who has also worked for PwC and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 0.05% of the Tuleva’s AUM will be distributed among the members according to the size of their pension account in Tuleva funds, while the rest of the profit – both from the business as well as investment income of the start-up capital – will be distributed among all members according to their contribution to start-up capital.In addition to the novel ownership structure, Tuleva intends to charge lower management fees, a contentious issue in the Estonian pensions market. According to Pekk, management fees currently average 1.26%, while the total expenses ratio is some 1.5-2%.Tuleva will initially charge a management fee of 0.5%, reducing this when the membership increases.It intends to achieve the lower costs through a fully passive investment strategy – 75% invested in the MSCI All Country World Index and 25% in the Barclay Capital Global Aggregate Index – using mostly BlackRock as its provider.Pekk told IPE that Tuleva hopes to have the necessary documentation ready by September and the finances in place by the end of October, with the pension fund launching next year pending regulatory approval.Estonia’s finance ministry, meanwhile, which itself called for greater competition and fee transparency, is incorporating two of Tuleva’s proposals into forthcoming amendments to financial legislation.The current exit fee for pension fund members switching providers is to fall from 1% of assets to 0.1%, while the minimum share capital will be cut to €1m.Tuleva is not alone in turning to passive investment to cut fees.This week LHV announced that it plans to launch two new passive index funds – a second-pillar fund 75% invested in equities, and a third pillar one fully invested in equities –  each of which will charge a management fee of 0.39%.LHV plans to receive the regulatory go-ahead for its new offerings later this year. Estonia’s shrinking pension fund landscape may soon have a new player, operating on a profit-sharing cooperative model.Tuleva, started up by 22 prominent Estonian financial and business individuals, has been established as a commercial organisation, a collective of members with similar interests, with each member holding one vote, in contrast to the four existing bank-owned market players.“The market for the second pillar fund system is uncompetitive, and returns since its launch in 2002 have been poor,” Tuleva board member Tõnu Pekk told IPE.The association is building up capital to set up a second-pillar pension fund management company, which under current Estonian law needs a minimum capital of €3m, as well as funds to finance costs such as regulatory, legal and depositary expenses.last_img read more

Tyson Fury says ‘real champion will be crowned’ in rematch with Deontay Wilder, explains trainer switch

first_img“I proved myself the first time and I’m ready to do it again,” the WBC champion said. “It was a very controversial fight. I promise my fans that there won’t be any controversy with this one. I’m going to finish it.”I’m happy and I’m excited that the rematch is finally happening. I want to give the fans what they want to see. I’ve been doing it with my last three outings — Fury, Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz. They’ve been spectacular events — from my ring walks where I gather all the energy of the people, to my uniforms that I wear to help spread that energy. “Then I give them what they all come for — the knockouts, and my knockouts have been amazing.” “There’s no more ducking and diving,” Fury told reporters. “The date has been set, and the ‘Bomb Squad’ is about to be securely detonated and the real champion crowned as the world watches on for the most anticipated fight in years.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a year”This is unfinished business for me, but come Feb. 22, this dosser will finally get what’s coming to him, and I can’t wait!”Fury also explained his surprising decision to split with longtime trainer Ben Davison in the build-up to the fight, saying their work had gone “stale.” SugarHill Steward will instead train Fury.”We’re going to go back to basics,” Fury said on ESPN’s “College GameDay.””I trained with SugarHill Steward back in 2010, we got on like a house on fire.”I was going a little bit stale, repetitive, doing the same things day in, day out for years. I needed a change.”@ringmagazineNumber 1 – @Tyson_FuryNumber 2 – @BronzeBomberWhen number one and number two in the ratings fight, the Ring Magazine belt is on the line #WilderFury2— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) December 27, 2019Wilder insists it is he who will end any doubt over who is the better fighter. Tyson Fury believes his rematch against Deontay Wilder on Feb. 22 will see “the real champion” crowned when he defeats the American.The WBC heavyweight title will be on the line as Fury and Wilder, who fought to a thrilling draw in December 2018, do battle at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.last_img read more