‘Re­porters caught be­tween ter­ror­ists, govts’

Lesotho Times - - International -

NEW YORK — 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 on 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”, Mr Simon added.

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

Ms 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 home-grown 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. — AFP

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