Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 is deadliest year for journalists: RSF

Can you imagine in one year (2012), 88 journalists were killed (+33%), 879 journalists arrested, 1993 journalists threatened or physically attacked, 38 journalists kidnapped, 73 journalists fled their country, 6 media assistants killed, 47 netizens and citizen-journalists killed, and 144 bloggers and netizens arrested.
This year has been exceptionally deadly, with a 33 per cent rise in the number of journalists killed in connection with their work over 2011. 

The worst-hit regions were the Middle East and Northern Africa (with 26 killed), Asia (24 killed) and sub-Saharan Africa (21 killed). Only the western hemisphere registered a fall in the number of journalists killed.

No doubt, Reporters Without Borders (French acronym - RSF) say 2012 is deadliest yearfor journalists since it began producing its annual roundup in 1995. 

The number of journalists murdered or killed was 67 in 2011, 58 in 2010 and 75 in 2009. The previous record was in 2007, when 87 were killed. The 88 journalists killed in 2012 lost their lives while covering wars or bombings, or were murdered by groups linked to organized crime (including drug trafficking), by Islamist militias or on the orders of corrupt officials.

“The reason for the unprecedented number of journalists killed in 2012 is mainly the war in Syria, the chaos in Somalia and Taliban violence in Pakistan,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violations of human rights, in particular, the right to freedom of information, encourages the continuation of these violations.”

The victims were news providers of all kinds. Citizen-journalists and netizens have been hit hard – 47 killed in 2012 compared with 5 in 2011 – especially in Syria. These men and women act as reporters, photographers and video-journalists, documenting their day-to-day lives and the government’s crackdown on its opponents. Without their activities, the Syrian regime would be able to impose a complete news blackout on certain regions and continue massacring in secret.

On Dec. 11, findings by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) revealed journalists in prison reach record high with Turkey, Iran, and China among leading jailers. 

The trend is driven primarily by terrorism and other anti-state charges levied against critical reporters and editors, according to the new CPJ report.

"We are living in an age when anti-state charges and 'terrorist' labels have become the preferred means that governments use to intimidate, detain, and imprison journalists," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Criminalizing probing coverage of inconvenient topics violates not only international law, but impedes the right of people around the world to gather, disseminate, and receive independent information."

The three leading jailers of journalists were Turkey (49), Iran (45), and China (32), where imprisonments followed sweeping crackdowns on criticism and dissent, making use of anti-state charges in retaliation for critical coverage. This pattern is present in most of the countries in the census.

CPJ's 2012 census of imprisoned journalists identified 232 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars on December 1, an increase of 53 from 2011 and the highest since the organization began the survey in 1990.

The 2012 figure surpasses the previous record of 185 journalists imprisoned in 1996, underlining a disturbing trend of conflating coverage of opposition groups or sensitive topics with terrorism, evident since 2001.

Of the 27 countries imprisoning journalists, the top 10 jailers were: Turkey: 49 Iran: 45 China: 32 Eritrea: 28 Syria: 15 Vietnam: 14 Azerbaijan: 9 Ethiopia: 6 Saudi Arabia: 4 and Uzbekistan: 4

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