Media watchdog issues violence against journalists report
A new report by Reporters Without Borders reveals the bleak dangers that journalists are faced with in their daily work. With 141 people killed, 2012 has been one of the worst years for press freedom in a long time.
\"2012 was an extremely deadly year,\" says Ulrike Gruska of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The organisation\'s just-published annual report shows a total of 141 journalists, bloggers and media workers were killed because of their work. Of these, six were media employees and 47 were “citizen journalists.” In addition, 88 professional journalists were killed in the course of their duties - more than at any time since the introduction of RSF annual reports in 1995.
\"The 88 journalists lost their lives when they reported from war zones and bomb attacks,\" it says in the report. \"Or they were murdered by organised crime or drug traffickers, by militant Islamists or at the direction of corrupt officials.\"
Egyptian journalist Al Husseini Abu Dief was shot dead in early December while filming clashes in Cairo. The 33-year-old photojournalist from the daily newspaper Al-Fagr, who trained at the Deutsche Welle Akademie, was covering the Presidential Palace, where he wanted to film unrest between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi. According to an eyewitness, Al Husseini Abu Dief was shot at close range by an unknown assailant. Six days later, he died of his injuries.
2012 was particularly dangerous for citizen journalists, bloggers and Internet reporters. Five died in 2011 - but in 2012 there were 47 deaths around the world, a staggering 44 in Syria alone. \"In Syria, many people have tried to break through the regime\'s information blockade,\" Gruska said, \"by getting information out of the country, whether in the form of blogs and video messages or mobile phone videos. And we had to rely on this heavily in our Syria coverage because there were hardly any professional journalists on the ground.\"
The report calls Syria a \"graveyard for journalists.\" \"The problem for Syrian colleagues is they very often get caught in the crossfire,\" explains Nils Butcher, editor of Zenith magazine, which focuses on the Arab and Islamic world. \"To many rebels, employees of state television do not count as neutral observers of the war. Islamist groups in particular have systematically attacked, abducted and executed Syrian state media journalists.\"
Even employees of Russian media are in great danger, said Metzger, who last did research in Syria in October 2012. He also gave examples of abuses by government troops, such as the bombing of an opposition press centre. A total of 65 media workers were killed in Syria in 2012 while working. Some 21 were imprisoned, including Mazen Darwish. \"Being a journalist in Syria is like walking on a minefield,” Darwish once said. \"No one can say when a mine will explode.\" Among others, the 38-year-old founded the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. Darwish was arrested in February 2012. Where he has been held ever since is unknown.
The other numbers RSF released also give cause for deep concern: more than 1,000 journalists and bloggers were arrested in 2012. A further 2,000 reporters were threatened or attacked.
Eritrea currently has 28 journalists in jail - sometimes in solitary confinement in underground cells. The report reserves its harshest criticism for this East African country: \"As one of the last totalitarian dictatorships, and bringing up the rear in our press freedom index, Eritrea locks up journalists and lets them rot in jail on just the slightest suspicion that they could be a national threat or hold views critical of the government.\"
Journalists face dangers in other countries, too: Oman and Cuba, for example, took steps against bloggers critical of the government, the report said. It also leveled harsh accusations at Iran. In Africa, northern Mali was the main source of concern. The report did not offer criticism of Western countries.
Source: Deutsche Welle