2006: A Year of Living Dangerously

Published: Wed 29 Nov 2006 04:03 PM
2006: A Year of Living Dangerously
One hundred and five journalists were killed in 2006, the deadliest year on record, according to the half-year review of press freedom by the World Association of Newspapers.
The report, presented Monday to the Board of the Paris-based WAN, meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, said that the killings accelerated in the second half of the year, when 71 were killed. The number of journalists killed in Iraq -- 23 since June -- surpassed all other countries.
The murder of journalists is the ultimate form of censorship, but by no means the only form. "Legislative measures, financial harassment and security laws continue to be used as means to harass journalists and limit press freedom," said the report. "Self-censorship, a natural response to repression and the threat of violence or death, is an endemic problem in Central Asia, Latin America and the Middle East."
The full report can be read here. The list of journalists killed with details about their cases can be found here.
Region by region, the report said:
Conflict and political instability throughout the Middle East and North Africa continues to undermine the ability of press freedom to make serious advances in region. Increasing violence and insecurity in Iraq has once again made the country the most dangerous environment in the world for media practitioners, and the war between Lebanon and Israel cost the lives of two media employees in July of this year. In Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, arguably the most tolerant environments for journalists in the region, the governments rely on criminal defamation laws as a means to exert pressure and control on the media.
Africa’s media and its journalists face manifold threats: war, lack of infrastructure and funding, censorship, harassment, criminalizing media laws, and violence. Additionally, attackers, harassers, and murderers of journalists have largely acted with impunity on the continent thus contributing to continuing the cycle of violence. Despite this gloomy picture, improvements have been noted; for example the abolition of censorship in Mauritania. And African media continue a praiseworthy battle in a media environment that imposes substantial challenges both with regards to infrastructure, legal aspects and widespread illiteracy.
In the Americas, 15 journalists have been killed in a series of ruthless murders over the past six months. Other press freedom concerns have been mainly of a legal character, prompting calls for greater freedom of expression in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. More than 20 journalists continue to linger in prison in Cuba.
The region covering the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is one of stark contrasts when it comes to the state of press freedom. Countries such as Ukraine and those in Eastern Europe have shown steady progress in the fifteen years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Press freedom in Belarus and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan has declined considerably in recent years, and the past few months have proved no different. Russia is characterized by a complex and often contradictory media environment.
Asia’s press freedom record continues to be largely influenced by the repressive governments of Burma, China and North Korea. As the political situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, journalists are among the latest victims. A number of killings have occurred across the region, contributing to the overall high number of journalists killed this year in the world.
The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 73 national newspaper associations, newspapers and newspaper executives in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups.

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