Frank Hartmann on Thu, 16 Mar 2000 01:52:43 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] media freedom review

The 1999 IPI World Press Freedom Review just was
published by the IPI / International Press
Institute. Find the press release attached, and
see the materials at


"Bleak News for Media Freedom"

The IPI World Press Freedom Review is a bleak
analysis of press freedom violations committed
in 1999 in 165 countries.

During the course of the year, 87 journalists
and media staff were killed or murdered, making
it one of the worst years on record. Many of the
victims were cut down in waves of violence in
the Balkans, Russia and Sierra Leone. 25
journalists and media workers died in the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which 16 were
victims of the Nato bombing of the Radio
Television Serbia building in Belgrade in April.
In Africa, the civil war in Sierra Leone claimed
10 victims and, once again, Colombia with seven
media victims has shown itself to be the most
perilous country in Latin America to report

Johann P. Fritz, Director of IPI, said:
"Developments in the conflicts in Serbia, Sierra
Leone and East Timor were particularly
distressing for the media: journalists were
considered legitimate targets and killed because
they were journalists; because people did not
like what they were saying."

"Targeting journalists is a flagrant breach of
international covenants," he said. "IPI urges
all Governments to reaffirm their commitment to
the fundamental principles of freedom of

Aside from journalists covering conflict,
unexplained murders of reporters and editors
account for many of the deaths. The motives
behind these attacks are rarely established and
the culprits almost never found. The review also
details thousands of cases of assault,
imprisonment, ‘disappearances’, harassment,
intimidation and censorship that were designed
to stifle the free flow of information in all
parts of the world.

"There is an obvious problem of official
reluctance to investigate killings and acts of
violence against media," Fritz said. "There must
be no impunity for the killers of journalists
and media workers."

Turkey continues to imprison more journalists
than any other country in the world. China,
Burma (Myanmar), Ethiopia, Cuba, Congo (DRC),
Nepal and Syria also regularly silence critical
journalists by throwing them in jail.

"It is an appalling realisation," Fritz said,
"that despite all the advances mankind has made
over the past century, the majority of people on
this planet are still not allowed to enjoy
freedom of the press."

The review also shows how legal provisions are a
favoured muzzling device, and how, all over the
world, official files and
documents are often unnecessarily withheld from
the public’s eye, impeding the citizens’ right
to be fully informed and to evaluate the
performance of their representatives.


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