Press Freedom Day: Where Reporters and Their Work Are Threatened
Friday marks World Press Freedom Day, first declared by the United Nations two decades ago as a day to nurture the freedom of journalists — or to remind the world of where it falls short. Rights groups pointed to several spots on the globe where reporters are persecuted or in peril.
Syria is the deadliest country in the world for journalists, Amnesty International said in a newly released report. At least 46 people have been slain while reporting on its civil conflict between March 2011 and late April 2013, most of them Syrian nationals, according to UNESCO.
Journalists have come under fire from both government forces and rebels, some of them deliberately targeted for their work. Government forces are believed to have abducted, tortured and killed reporters, according to testimony gathered by Amnesty. Opposition fighters have publicly threatened journalists deemed sympathetic to the Syrian government and celebrated when they were attacked. At least seven journalists are now missing in Syria, according to the Agence France-Presse.
The government clampdown on foreign and local journalists has spurred citizen reporters to take up cameras to document the carnage in their neighborhoods, exposing themselves to added risk. The barrage of violent attacks on journalists “may amount to war crimes,” the human rights group wrote.
Those and other attacks made 2012 the deadliest one for journalists worldwide since the International Press Institute started systematically tracking journalists’ deaths in 1997.
On top of the dozens of reporters killed in Syria, at least 16 reporters were slain last year in Somalia, according to the group. Many appear to have been killed in retaliation for their work.
The Islamist militant group the Shabab is believed to be behind some of the killings, the Los Angeles Times’ Robyn Dixon wrote last year, but warlords and powerful businessmen are also suspected.