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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 16:03 GMT
China: 'Leading jailer' of journalists
Huang Qi
Website creator Huang Qi was accused of subversion
China was the leading jailer of journalists in 2000, a year in which 81 journalists were imprisoned worldwide and 24 killed.

A new global report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based non-profit group, documents more than 600 cases of media repression in 131 countries, including assassination, assault, imprisonment, censorship and harassment.

In a special section on the internet struggle in China, the report says that new regulations turn internet providers into de facto government spies.

Of the 22 Chinese journalists jailed last year, several were held for using the internet to disseminate information.

"Outrageous abuses of the media continue, as governments achieve their repressive goals with more sophisticated techniques and harassment," said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper on the release of the report, entitled Attacks on the Press in 2000.

Deaths

Some of the tightest press regulations were probably in place in North Korea, where listening to a foreign broadcast is a crime punishable by death.

The message from Ukrainska Pravda:
A headless corpse was believed to be Ukranian journalist Georgy Gongadze
But overall, the most dangerous country for journalists was Algeria, where 59 journalist deaths were documented from 1993 to 1996, followed by Colombia with 19 dead from 1997 to 2000, including three last year.

Three journalists also died in Sierra Leone and two Russian photographers were killed covering the conflict in Chechnya.

In Ukraine, the death of Internet journalist Georgy Gongadze set off a political furore.

The numbers of journalists killed and imprisoned declined slightly compared to recent years though.

The committee said this was due to many countries using "more subtle methods to control the press - punitive tax laws, expensive libel suits."

Mob attacks in Indonesia

The Committee said that in Indonesia, journalists faced "constant scrutiny and frequent threats" from security forces, rebels and mobs.

Despite calls by President Abdurrahman Wahid for press freedom, following years of suppression, there were 118 cases of attacks and threats against journalists last year.

One newspaper that published a critical report on the president was attacked by his supporters.

Gunman in Aceh
Journalists in Aceh frequently faced threats
In the Moluccas, torn by fighting between Christians and Muslims, journalists of each faith have had no access to the other side, making balanced reporting impossible.

The report also said that in Cambodia, television and radio were restricted and journalists often faced the wrath of the government, prompting the government to defend itself against the allegations.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith admitted that Cambodia's airwaves did not carry many "critical news stories," but maintained journalists were allowed to criticise the government.

The report comes as the Malaysian government admitted that it was holding up sales of foreign weekly news magazines but denied the action was linked to the magazines' criticism of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Europe
Ukraine's 'censorship killing'
17 Nov 00 | Americas
Killers hit Colombian press
05 Mar 01 | Europe
Analysis: Free Russian press?
03 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysian press curbs under attack
12 Jan 00 | South Asia
Fears for Sri Lanka press freedom
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