Journalists face ‘most dangerous period’ in recent history

Friday 24/04/2015
Conflict reporting is becoming more risky than ever

UNITED NATIONS - Journalists are under threat from terror groups and governments who restrict civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, a US-based media watchdog said in a new report released Monday.

"Journalists are being caught in a terror dynamic, in which they are threatened by non-state actors who target them and governments that restrict civil liberties including press freedom in the name of fighting terror," said Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director.

The myriad threats, "from surveillance and self-censorship to violence and imprisonment," make it "the most deadly and dangerous period for journalists in recent history," Simon added.

Non-state actors, criminal organizations and violent political groups pose a significant threat to journalists, press freedom advocates and news organizations, the report said.

Governments are also abusing anti-terror and national security laws to silence criticism, it added.

Ethiopia, one of the world's worst jailers of journalists, has charged most journalists behind bars with promoting terrorism.

Similarly Egypt recently sentenced three reporters to life in prison because of alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a foreword, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour highlighted the murders of journalists in Syria and of eight journalists with French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

"With well over 1,000 journalists having been killed since 1992, and with the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo early in 2015, it is clear that the threats are not limited to bad years, nor are they going away," she wrote.

Amanpour said widespread political turmoil and rapid transmission of information through the Internet was making conflict reporting more risky than ever.

"From government surveillance and censorship to computer hacking, from physical attacks to imprisonment, kidnapping and murder, the aim is to limit or otherwise control the flow of information -- an increasingly complicated effort, with higher and higher stakes."

Journalists in Europe contend with limitations in the name of privacy, a rise in right-wing extremism and homegrown terrorists, the CPJ said.

In the United States a focus on national security "forces journalists to think and act like spies to protect their sources," it added.

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