3 jan. 2010

Press freedom: Report 2009 (lydiacacho.net)

2009 in figures

76 journalists killed (60 in 2008)
33 journalists kidnapped
573 journalists arrested
1456 physically attacked or threatened
570 media censored
157 journalists have left their country
1 dead in jail blogger
151 bloggers and cyber-dissidents detained
61 attacked
60 countries have been affected by Internet censorship

Wars and disputed elections: issues of greatest danger for journalists

The year 2009 will be remembered marked by two dramatic events: the greatest slaughter of journalists held in a single day, the 30 media workers slain by the private militia of a governor in the southern Philippines, and an unprecedented wave of arrests and convictions of journalists and bloggers in Iran after the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Moreover, to escape imprisonment or death, nearly 160 journalists from all continents made their way from exile, sometimes in very hazardous conditions. Iranian photojournalists across the border into Turkey to escape an arrest or fleeing Somali radio journalists to neighboring countries to avoid certain death, a number of professionals who are all informational intermediaries and those trying to silence by all means.

"Wars and elections have been the main threats to journalists in 2009. It is becoming increasingly dangerous to cover a conflict, to the extent that journalists become targets and are in danger of being killed or kidnapped them. But it can also be dangerous to do this work in electoral period, with the result that you can end up in jail or in hospital. In undemocratic countries has been particularly important in 2009, violence in the periods before or after the election.

Another observation, which represents no surprise is that an increasing number of bloggers and Internet sites hit by censorship and repression. Today there is virtually no country can escape this phenomenon. Whenever the Internet and new media (social networks, mobile phones, etc..) Play an important role in disseminating information, the tide changed for the worse. Now the bloggers are so guarded as journalists in traditional media.

Finally, our biggest concern about the year 2009 is the mass exodus of journalists from repressive countries such as Iran and Sri Lanka. The authorities of these countries have realized that by encouraging journalists to leave substantially reduce the pluralism of ideas and the degree of criticism. This is a very dangerous trend and it is absolutely necessary to denounce with all the strength that we can, "said Jean-Francois Julliard, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, due to make public the balance of 2009.

Increase by 26% the number of journalists killed

Almost all the journalists killed in 2009, except for the Franco-Spanish documentarian Christian Poveda, murdered in El Salvador, were nationals. "Less known than the great reporters of international public opinion, however, are those local journalists who, every year, pay a higher price to secure our right to be informed of conflicts, corruption or destruction of the environment", said Jean-Francois Julliard, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders.

The year 2009 started badly with the Israeli military offensive in Gaza. In addition to closing the foreign media access to the Palestinian territory, the Israeli government carried out a series of violent raids against buildings that house the media, in violation of international humanitarian law. These attacks killed two reporters. In the Russian Caucasus, journalists and human rights advocates have lived the year from all dangers. Natalia Estemirova Akhmedilov Malik in Chechnya and Dagestan, witnessing the dirty war waged by Moscow and its local allies, were eliminated with impunity.

Radical Islamist groups have killed at least 15 journalists around the world. In Somalia, Al-Shabaab militia intensified killings and suicide bombings. A total of nine reporters killed, four of whom work with Radio Shabelle, which attempts to continue reporting despite the chaos. In Pakistan, Taliban groups in the Northwest are increasingly an eye on journalists.

Finally continues to increase slightly the number of kidnappings. Most cases were concentrated in Afghanistan, Mexico and Somalia. If the New York Times reporter David Rohde and its local partner managed to escape from the hands of the Taliban, Afghan reporter instead Munadi Sultan was killed during the military operation intended to save.

"Three years after the Security Council passed UN resolution 1738 on protection of journalists in conflict zones, governments still seem to be unable to guarantee the safety of media professionals," Reporters Without Borders added .

In regard to other forms of violence, assaults and threats increased by one third (from 929 cases in 2008 to 1456 2009). In the Americas (501 cases) is where journalists are more exposed, especially when they denounce drug trafficking, corruption or local potentates. Behind comes Asia with 364 cases of this kind, particularly in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The number of media censored dangerously increasing, with about 570 cases of newspapers, radios or televisions were prohibited to disseminate any information, or even forcing them to closure. That's what happened to a satirical magazine in Malaysia, a dozen reformist newspapers in Iran, and also to Radio France Internationale in the DRC and the BBC World Service in Rwanda.

The number of journalists arrested (673 in 2008 to 573 in 2009) has experienced a slight drop, to be awarded mainly to have reduced imprisonment in Asia. In the Middle East is where it produced the greatest number of cases.

Electoral Violence

The 30 journalists killed on the island of Mindanao covering the attempt by an opponent of the local potentate to register as a candidate for regional elections in 2010. Similarly, by Tunisian journalist Taoufik Ben Brik jailed him in the days following the reelection of President Ben Ali, while suffering a brutal attack on his colleague Slim Boukhdhir. In Gabon assaulted several journalists, and others were threatened with death in the days following the election of Ali Bongo to the presidency of the country. Also temporarily closed by a half dozen media have echoed the post-election violence, and criticized members of the new government. Finally, the controversial election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran has been the source of a delusional crackdown against the media.

The multiparty elections, a symbol of democracy and free expression, can become nightmares for journalists. At election time the state media often prevents them fairly cover the activities of the candidates, as occurred during the contested election in Afghanistan or the sham election in Equatorial Guinea. And while the most committed journalists are exposed to suffer reprisals from the enemy camp. In voting no is not always respected the right of media access, as demonstrated by the provincial elections in Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.

The most serious problems usually occur at the announcement of results. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters, overwhelmed by an opposition movement that had an enormous echo in the Internet and in the Afghan press, threw themselves into ultra violent repression against hundreds of journalists and bloggers, accused of spying in the pay of foreign or destabilizing agents.

This year, the audacity shown by the journalists in the pre-and post-election was punished with detentions, beatings and imprisonment, some extremely serious. These repeated scenes of repression after a vote should encourage the international community to find ways to better protect press after announcing victories, often stolen or distorted.

"In any case, the wave of violence bodes ill 2010, during which it is scheduled to key elections, including in Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iraq and the Palestinian territories," said, concerned, Reporters Without Borders that regularly conducts a follow-up of the media in election period.

Over a hundred bloggers and cyber-dissidents jailed

For the first time since the advent of the Internet Reporters Without Borders has registered no fewer than 108 bloggers, cyber-dissidents and Internet users worldwide imprisoned for expressing their opinions on the Web. A figure that highlights the repression that wreaks havoc on the Net, in a dozen countries. Definitely several states have adopted the policy of criminalizing the digital expression, disappointing the hopes of getting an Internet without censorship.

Internet was the engine of democratic protest in Iran, China and elsewhere. Fundamentally therefore, authoritarian governments are as likely to severely punish the internet, as these two bloggers in Azerbaijan sentenced to two years in prison for having mocked the political elites in a video.

If, in 2009, China has remained the main censor the Internet, Iran, Tunisia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan also resorted to recurrent blockage of sites and blogs, and monitoring of expression online. Moreover, the Turkmen Internet remains entirely under state control. In this year also have attacked, threatened or detained bloggers and ordinary citizens who expressed themselves on the Net, while the popularity of social networking and participatory sites knew a huge success. Kareem Amer is an Egyptian arrested while the famous Burmese actor Zarganar you are still 34 years in prison to be served. Some of the figureheads of defending free speech on the Internet, including Chinese, Hu Jia and Liu Xiaobo or Vietnamese and Trung Nguyen Dieu Cay, part of the hundreds of victims of police of the Net Now crisis has become part of the issues that can cause reactions of censorship, and especially on the Web Thus, South Korea mistakenly detained a blogger to comment on the catastrophic situation of the country. In Thailand, half a dozen of net-citizens were detained or intimidated by addressing the crisis in the kingdom. Simply connect the king's health and the collapse of the Bangkok Stock Exchange made them targets of the authorities. Finally, in Dubai are censored the local media when they had to account for the sinking of the market.

Democratic countries are not left behind: while several European states are working on new measures to control the network, in the name of fighting pornography or illegal downloads, Australia has already announced that they intend to create a mandatory system filter, dangerous to freedom of expression. The Turkish justice has increased even more the number of Internet sites, among them YouTube, censored because they have appeared critical of which was the first president of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

"From year to year has doubled the number of countries affected by the censorship. A very disturbing trend that reflects the strengthening of the control exercised over the new media, while millions of net-citizens increasingly are mobilizing on the Web For better denouncing the criminalization of the expression on the Net, Reporters Without Borders will host the March 12 mobilization against other Internet enemies, "he assured Lucie Morillon, head of the Office Internet and Freedoms.

The media in the process

At 30 December 2009, there are at least 167 journalists imprisoned around the world. Should be traced to the early 90s to find such a large number of journalists jailed worldwide. Although on several occasions, the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression has repeatedly said that jail is a disproportionate penalty in cases of press, many governments maintaining these sanctions into their laws, and abusing of them. The passing of sentences for journalists in Cuba, China, Sri Lanka and Iran are as severe as those imposed on perpetrators of bloody crimes or terrorists.

Too often, prison and violence are the only answers offered by the authorities to media professionals. In the Middle East every day brings at least one arrest, or assault. In Iraq, for example, in 2009 assaulted or detained over sixty journalists. In the Palestinian Territories, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank arrested more than fifty journalists. Africa and Asia are competing side by side by the number of journalists arrested. In 2009 have been counted more than ten cases of arrests in Niger, Gambia and Somalia, Eritrea maintains its status of being the first African prison for journalists, with 32 others in jail. Fortunately in Asia reduced the number of arrests, but Chinese security forces continue to detain and Pakistani journalists, foreign or local, every time you exceed the red lines 'supposed' to be respected. In Honduras, the coup of 28 June 2009, supported by the conservative press, led to a real game journalists suspected of sympathy for the ousted president Manuel Zelaya, and suspension and even closure of their essays. Finally, Cuba is still distinguishes this year with at least 24 cases of arrests and imprisonment of two new long-term, bringing to 25 the number of journalists imprisoned in Cuba.

And when the powerful do not arresting journalists, were bombarded with complaints in series in the courts. In Algeria, the publication director Omar Belhouchet received, just this year, fifteen citations in court. In Turkey or Morocco, the opposition press is the target of repeated complaints, they almost always end in convictions or closures of media because the courts tend to side with the complainant, not the press.

The exile to survive

For the first time, Reporters Without Borders in its annual report includes the number of journalists forced to leave their country as a result of having been threatened his life or freedom. There have been fewer than 157 professionals have been forced to take the path of exile, often in very difficult conditions. It was massive exodus of Iranian journalists and bloggers-more than fifty, and their colleagues in Sri Lanka-not less than 29 verified cases this year.

Not to mention Africa, with the fifty Somali journalists who fled the chaos and ten Eritrean journalists forced to leave the country for fear of reprisals from the worst dictatorship on the continent. The exile of journalists has also affected Guinea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia and Ethiopia.

This new indicator reflects the fear that has engulfed the profession in particular countries. On his way to exile, journalists are many pitfalls and know they have an uncertain future ahead. Many spend months, even years, hoping to get some form of protection, or a hypothetical relocation.

source: http://www.lydiacacho.net/30-12-2009/2009-en-cifras/ (spanish)

Committee to Protect Journalists http://www.cpj.org/

other related (DUTCH):

Interview met Nick Davies over het einde van de journalistiek http://www.werktitel.be/2009/10/interview-met-nick-davies-over-het-einde-van-de-journalistiek/

‘Onze media spelen met hun geloofwaardigheid’ http://www.werktitel.be/2009/12/onze-media-spelen-met-hun-geloofwaardigheid/

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