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Threats to press freedom multiplying worldwide, says World Association of Newspapers

Threats to press freedom is multiplying worldwide, says World Assocation of Newspapers
Killed in Gaza: Palestinian and foreign journalists demonstrate in Gaza to mark two months since the death of their colleague, Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, who was killed by fire from an Israeli tank, June 16, 2008. Photo: MaanImages / Wissam Nassar

Attacks on journalists throughout the world—by organised crime groups in Latin America, autocratic regimes in the Middle East, repressive governments in Africa and by combatants in war zones—pose serious threats to press freedom, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) has said in its half-year review of press freedom worldwide.

The report, presented Monday to the Board of the Paris-based WAN, highlighted a growing list of abuses against press freedom and freedom of expression. Thirty-nine journalists and other media workers have been killed since June, bringing the year-long total to 68.

Mexico, where journalists have increasingly become the target of drug traffickers, has emerged as one of the deadliest places for journalists, with 23 killed since 2000. Seven others have disappeared in Mexico since 2005.

Journalists reporting on organised crime groups in Latin America, and on links between public officials and those groups, remain the target of threats of violence, attacks and murders. Impunity prevails as investigations by law enforcement bodies and the judiciary fail. Verbal attacks by political leaders against critical reporters and media have only added to an already hostile environment.

In the Middle East and North Africa, the past six months have been marked by a number of setbacks in the area of press freedom, mainly due to autocratic regimes that do not hesitate to take repressive measures against the independent press. Bloggers throughout the region continue their battle to spread news and information ignored or censored by the mainstream media.

Governments throughout Africa continue resorting to charges of defamation, sedition, and "disrupting public order" to intimidate and sanction independent and opposition media. Reporting on rebellions or criticizing the country's leadership, administration or the army often leads to jail sentences for journalists. Despite efforts led by media and civil society organisations, free expression is severely limited in many countries.

Freedom of the press continues to be challenged in various parts of Europe and Central Asia. Death threats against or prosecution of journalists reporting on conflict zones, war crimes, and organised crime remain common. Journalists have also taken a high toll in an increasingly volatile political situation in the Caucasus, where four journalists were killed in August alone.

Asia has been the scene of increasing violence targeting journalists, whether they reported on corruption, conflicts or simply expressed dissenting views. Severe restrictions continue to impede the work of independent media and the free flow of information.

Date posted: December 17, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 333