[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Attacks on media 'soaring'
Kaveh Golestan
BBC cameraman Kaveh Golestan was killed by a landmine in Iraq

The number of journalists who have been attacked or threatened rose sharply last year, an international media watchdog said in its annual report.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that while the number of reporters killed went down from 31 in 2001 to 25 last year, the number of journalists detained went up by 40%.

RSF said that "at least 1,420 journalists were beaten, abducted, charged by police, harassed or threatened with being killed", and called for the immediate release of more than 120 reporters still in jails.

Cuba was condemned as "the world's biggest prison for journalists" whilst the record of African states like Zimbabwe was described as appalling.

Rally in Prague condemns imprisonment of 70 Cuban journalists and other intellectuals this April
In just a few days, Cuba has become, ahead of Eritrea, Burma and China, the world's biggest prison for journalists
Reporters Without Borders

"Press freedom is not guaranteed in more than half of the world's countries, so we must continue to be vigilant in 2003," said the report, released to coincide with the 13th World Press Day on Saturday.

RSF also said figures for 2003 were worrying, with 14 reporters killed so far this year.

The group said 10 of them were killed in Iraq, including cameramen for Reuters and a Spanish TV station, killed when a US tank opened fire on a Baghdad hotel housing the international media.


RSF said Asia was the most dangerous continent for journalists, being responsible for both the highest number of deaths - 11 - and the most repressive treatment of reporters.

In the Americas, Ecuador, the United States, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay were broadly praised for their respect of press freedom.

But the situation in Cuba was described as worse than in China, Burma and Eritrea.

In Africa, the report commended a number of countries for their efforts to improve relations with journalists.

"It was further proof that respect for freedom of expression is not limited to the developed, western countries," the report said, praising Botswana, Cape Verde, Mali, Mauritius and South Africa.

But Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Rwanda were singled out as appalling press blackspots.

'Press enemies'

The authors of the report also added several new names to their traditional list of enemies of the press.

New faces in the list, among others, included Liberian President Charles Taylor, Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Nepal's King Gyanendra and Kazakh President Nursultan Narzarbayev.

On Saturday, RSF plans to mark Press Freedom Day by mounting a picture display on the world's worst enemies of the press.

"Many governments have intensified and justified their repression of opposition or independent voices in the name of the fight against terrorism," the report said.

Cuban dissidents go on trial
03 Apr 03  |  Americas
Eritrea's leader defends curbs
16 Apr 03  |  Africa
Foreign media suffer Baghdad losses
08 Apr 03  |  Middle East

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific