Tuesday, February 15, 2011

44 journalists killed in 2010, media watchdog says

Feb 15, 2011

Nairobi - Some 44 journalists were killed worldwide in 2010 as global institutions failed to protect the media, a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.

Pakistan was the deadliest country, with eight killed, followed by Iraq with five, according to the report 'Attacks on the Press in 2010'.

Of the 44 journalists, 27 were murdered while the rest were killed by crossfire in combat zones or died during other dangerous assignments.

Including five journalist fatalities so far in 2011 - two of which came during the regime-changing protests in Tunisia and Egypt - 850 journalists have killed since 1992, the New York-based CPJ said.
The publication said 145 journalist were also imprisoned in 2010 - a 14-year high. Iran and China topped the list of journalists serving jail terms, with 34 behind bars in both countries.

International bodies such as the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the African Union (AU) also came under attack for failing to protect press freedom.

'We are noticing a deep failure by global institutions to defend the press,' Tom Rhodes of CPJ Africa said at the report's launch in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Rhodes criticized the AU for appointing the strongman president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, to head up the body in 2011.

Obiang seized control of the central African nation from his uncle in a 1979 coup and has long faced criticism for his authoritarian rule and stifling of the media.

The leader was also at the centre of a controversy when UNESCO accepted a three-million-dollar donation from him to be given out in an annual life sciences prize.

UNESCO, the UN body charged with protecting press freedom, in October backed down from the donation under pressure from the CPJ and human rights' bodies.

'This was a victory, but the battle should never have been fought,' the CPJ's executive director, Joel Simon, wrote in the report. 'The fact is that many international governmental organizations created to defend press freedom are consistently failing to fulfill their mission.'

Rhodes also blasted the AU for only having a part-time rapporteur on press freedom for a continent where journalists working in countries such as war-torn Somali face daily violence, and media freedom is under attack from governments across Africa.

'They need to take it (press freedom) as a serious issue,' Rhodes said. 'There isn't a real genuine interest in press freedom in supranational institutions, they are too compromised.'

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