With the spread of COVID-19 impacting the world, the United States Agency for Global Media and its networks have remained committed to providing accurate and unbiased information about the coronavirus, clarifying any misinformation, and exposing disinformation related to the pandemic.
- VOA’s Armenian Service featured a video report published on Facebook on the misleading coronavirus statistics from Russia and Belarus, explaining some of the reasons why these numbers are questionable.
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty highlighted a new surge in COVID-19 cases in Central Asia, forcing governments to reverse plans for re-openings, while also continuing to doctor the statistics, particularly for deaths. The network also reported on a call by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators for Central Asian leaders to release activists who have been detained in their countries because of the risk of contracting the virus in prison.
- RFE/RL’s Balkan Service reported on controversies surrounding coronavirus statistics in Serbia where critics alleged the government was underreporting virus deaths and infection rates ahead of the country’s June 21 elections.
Reporting the Facts
- VOA reported on a statement from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres that warned of the pandemic’s impact on peace and security, which is leading to growing authoritarianism and a rise of online misinformation.
- The network also reported on a new study from King’s College London, which shows that people who get their news from social media are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about the pandemic.
- The Russian Service reported on a government official who was recently fired from his job after publicly questioning the validity of the country’s official coronavirus-related death rate.
Freedom of Expression in the Age of COVID-19
- Cambodia is facing pandemic-related crackdowns on media. Voice of America’s Press Freedom Desk reported on the growing concern of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, where the government is using incitement laws against journalists amid the pandemic. Radio Free Asia reported on the call by Reporters Without Borders for the European Union to increase sanctions against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, after the third reporter in three months was arrested for “inciting chaos.”
- VOA’s Press Freedom Desk also looked into Hong Kong’s recent national security law, and the threat it poses to autonomy and freedom of speech in the region.
- RFA’s BenarNews reported on Human Rights Watch’s appeal to call on Bangladesh to repeal the Digital Security Act, which has played a role in the arrest and jailing of dozens of journalists and activists. Most recently, a teenager was arrested for publishing critical articles and posts of the government’s response to the virus.