Attacks on journalists rose in 2002: RSF
PARIS: Attacks and threats on reporters rose sharply last year as governments cracked down on critics, citing fears of the spread of global terrorism, an international media watchdog said on Wednesday.
The Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) said that 25 journalists were killed in 2002, down from 31 the previous year, but the number of journalists arrested jumped 40 percent and the number of those attacked or threatened had doubled. “Many governments have intensified and justified their repression of opposition or independent voices in the name of the fight against terrorism,” it said in its annual report.
“In addition, in authoritarian regimes but also in democracies, dozens of journalists have been placed under investigation, arrested or threatened for refusing to reveal their sources,” the group added.
The number of reporters jailed rose to 700 in 2002, of which 127 remain in prison. At least 1,420 journalists were attacked, threatened, kidnapped, harassed or charged with criminal offences, it said.
The group said figures for 2003 were worrying, with 14 reporters killed so far this year, including 10 in Iraq.
Among them were a Reuters’ cameraman and a Spanish cameraman, killed when a US tank fired on a Baghdad hotel that served as the main base for foreign journalists covering the war.
The report echoed the findings of another media watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists, which in March said the number of reporters killed in 2002 fell to a 17-year low . Earlier on Wednesday the International Press Institute, a Vienna-based press watchdog, said an average of five reporters are killed every month, a statistic which highlights the urgent need to improve the safety of journalists. —Reuters