RSF publishes annual report on World Press Freedom Day
(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an RSF press release:
Friday 3 May 2002
12th International Press Freedom Day
Because 120 journalists are still in prison around the world and because 31 journalists were murdered last year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) continues to denounce those everywhere who attack the right to inform people. On 3 May, RSF will be celebrating the 12th International Press Freedom Day so as to alert public opinion to the need to stand up for press freedom and challenge public officials, international organisations and the media about their contribution to it. Programme of the day :
The annual report
RSF will publish its annual report on 3 May. Freedom of the press throughout the world.
Press Freedom in 150 Countries (704 pages - 14 euros). With support from the Vivendi Universal group.
The new photo album
Yann Arthus-Bertrand for press freedom, the new album of photos sold in France and more than 20 other countries. 128 pages, with 75 photos borrowed from his book Earth from above.
The 38 predators of press freedom
The enemies of press freedom have faces. Learn to recognize them. Reporters Without Borders publishes its new list of "predators".
The information contained in this press pack and the pictures can be downloaded from www.rsf.org, category "Press zone / Download"
Reporters Without Borders publishes its annual report:
Freedom of the Press Throughout the World.
In 2001, 31 journalists were killed simply because they did their job. 489 were arrested and 716 threatened or physically attacked. The number of journalists arrested rose by nearly half between 2000 and 2002, and those threatened or attacked by more than 40 per cent.
Produced with support from the Vivendi Universal group, the 2002 edition of the annual
report details the situation in 150 countries. (704 pages - - 14).
The entire report, along with a January-March 2002 supplement, will be posted on 2 May on
the Reporters Without Borders website: www.rsf.org
Hard times for press freedom Press freedom had a rough time in 2001, the first year of the third millennium. On every continent, this basic right (a key to democracy in any society) was harshly
attacked, along with those who exercised it. The attacks were either physical (threats, blows, injuries and murders), done through repressive laws (censorship, bannings, arrests and prison sentences) or else targeted media equipment itself (broadcasting aerials, printing works and offices). The picture was a sad one.
Press freedom in the world sharply declined during the year.
Some "good" news
A few victories were notched up however. Some of those persecuted - symbols of repression by regimes that tolerate only the information they decree shall be known - were released. One was
journalist Nizar Nayyouf, who emerged from a Syrian prison in May after nine years. Another was Burmese woman journalist and writer San San Nwe, released in July after seven years in Rangoon's Insein prison. They are now free but the physical effects of imprisonment during which everything was done to break their bodies and minds - through total isolation, humiliation, refusal of medical attention, ill-treatment and torture - will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They are free, yet at the end of 2001, the Burmese rulers still held the dubious honour of being, along with Iran, the country in the world with the most journalists in prison (18 each). There are no longer any journalists in Syria's jails, but the authorities there have not relaxed their tight control over information. A particularly harsh measure against the media came into force in September and the family of the released Nizar Nayyouf was subjected to constant pressure in a bid to make the journalist, from his European exile, stop criticising the regime. The situation for journalists improved in several countries, though in too few of them. In Chile, the notorious Article 6b of the 1958 internal state security law, which called for up to five years in jail for "insulting" or "defaming" top state officials, was finally repealed. In Peru, the page seemed to have finally turned on the "Fujimori era" and, free of pressure from secret police and obedient judges, the media could resume its role of criticising the authorities without fear of reprisals. In Serbia, freedom of information naturally accompanied the arrival of democracy after the fall of the Milosevic regime in October 2000. But hopes for speedy reform of the media and press laws were disappointed. Will the same thing happen in Afghanistan now that the Taliban are gone? The first statements of the new rulers there were promising, but will these good intentions last? In Africa, quite a few journalists were released from jail. In Ethiopia, four held since 1997 were freed for "lack of evidence" and in Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, journalists in prison for several months were pardoned by the president and released. Pressure on the media by the authorities in these countries is still very strong however and includes frequent arrests and indictments that can be taken further at any time.
The fact that the number of journalists killed did not rise (31 against 32 in 2000) and was far lower than the record reached in the 1990s could, at a pinch, be counted as positive. We must also
distinguish between those killed in war zones who were not singled out for being journalists and those who were deliberately murdered because of their investigations and articles about sensitive
matters and for having denounced arbitrary behaviour, embezzlement, injustice, crime and racketeering. New kinds of wars, not between the regular armies of old but between ethnic,
ideological, religious or plain criminal interests, have made reporting increasingly dangerous. But death or injury of journalists in these conflicts is not always purely accidental. Sometimes the combatants, even from regular armies, deliberately target inconvenient witnesses to their deeds. In the Palestinian Occupied Territories, where several dozen journalists have been wounded by gunfire since the start of the Intifada, some have been deliberately shot at by Israeli soldiers. Reporters Without Borders had well-documented cases that leave no doubt about who was responsible, but the organisation's demand for their punishment went unanswered. This is the
eternal and harrowing problem of the impunity enjoyed nearly all over the world by those who kill or attack journalists. That is the extent of the meagre "good" news, that we are well aware is very relative. We have dealt with it first so as not to discourage readers of the report right away. Also to show that even in the darkest times in a world scarred at all levels by fierce fighting, bloody struggles for power and for control of people's activities, minds and land, defenders of human rights, especially the right to free information, can still make headway.
There was plenty of cause for concern and alarm. Except for the number of journalists killed during the year, all the figures were sharply up on 2000. They included arrests of journalists (489, up 50 per cent), threats and attacks (716, up 40 per cent) and incidents of censorship (378, up 28 per cent). More and more journalists went to jail for denouncing embezzlement, criticising officials or simply expressing concern of any kind - in other words, for doing their job, which was enough for even the most cautious journalist to be sued for harming the reputation of a leader or even national morale. The number of journalists in prison at the end of 2001 was 110, compared with 74 a year earlier, an increase of almost 50 per cent. Nearly a third of the world's people still live in countries where press freedom is simply not allowed, notably the last remaining communist countries where the only permitted political party, that supposedly incarnates the aspirations of the entire population, dictates by itself what is to be written, said and shown. China, with 1.3 billion inhabitants, is far and away top of the list here. Economic liberalisation has led to media proliferation and growth, but while the press has gained some freedom, especially economically, it remains strictly under the ferrule of the party leaders where political and social matters are concerned. Buoyed by its new membership in the World Trade Organisation, by winning its bid to hold the 2008 Olympic Games and by its support for US President George W. Bush's crusade against terrorism in the wake of the 11 September attacks in New York, the government in
Beijing has a freer hand than ever to continue its occupation of Tibet and clamp down on religious groups, opposition movements and protesting ethnic minorities. It has tightened its control of the media, especially in the provinces, and closely monitors the Internet to try to ensure that web-surfers in China only read "correct line" information. Sixteen "cyberdissidents" were jailed in 2001, joining 12 journalists in prison. Other governments, like the communist regimes, also keep absolute control on the flow of information. They include one-party regimes (Syria and Iraq), military dictatorships (Burma) and monarchies such as Saudi Arabia.
Cardboard imitations and repressive laws
All other governments in the world solemnly proclaim their belief in freedom of expression, especially freedom of the press. But very few are as good as their word. Many countries in every continent have all the appearances of democracy, but often that is just a cardboard imitation to fool genuinely democratic countries and major international institutions that politely take the pretence at face value. This is the case in Tunisia, where President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's police state keeps an iron grip on private and state-owned media, imposes wholesale repression and poses as a victim whenever it is accused.
To save face, political leaders "legalise" their repression by getting tough laws passed that are implemented by obedient police and judges. In Panama, the law allows imprisonment for defamation or harming someone's reputation and state officials filed more than 70 complaints in 2001. In Guatemala, a law to force journalists to be members of an official institute came into effect in December, decreeing that those who were "morally lacking" as journalists be dismissed from the institute and thus banned from working. In Africa, many governments armed themselves with press laws to punish with stiff prison terms offences such as "putting out false news â¦ harming the morale of the army" or "insulting the head of state." When criticised for this, such leaders say they have merely copied the French press law of 1881, which is true, except that the
prison terms provided under this law have not been handed down by French courts for many years. In 2001, Reporters Without Borders got the 1881 law amended to remove the imprisonment clauses, thus destroying the excuse of the African dictators, who did not follow suit.
Recourse to "legal" repression does not stop recourse to violence. In Colombia, where three more journalists were murdered, the guerrillas on one side and the paramilitary forces on the other
want to silence inconvenient voices. Many journalists, threatened with death, chose exile. In Colombia too, the killers enjoy impunity.
Degrees of censorship, violence and media control vary greatly from country to country and situations change. After several years of real progress, repression has returned with a vengeance
in many countries such as Bangladesh, Eritrea, Haiti, Nepal and Zimbabwe. Very few countries have moved in the opposite direction.
In the major democracies tooâ¦
Things are getting rocky also in major democratic countries in North America, Asia and Europe. Even within the European Union, with its good record on human rights and freedom of expression,
threats to pluralism and freedom of information arose or worsened in several large countries. Among them was Italy, where prime minister Silvio Berlusconi controls most of the country's private and public TV and radio stations and where repression of anti-globalisation demonstrations during the G8 summit in Genoa killed one person and injured many others, including 19 journalists. Murders by armed groups in Spain (the Basque conflict) and the United Kingdom (in Northern Ireland), indictments and convictions in France and Germany, narrowing of media ownership and political interference in Austrian TV and radio all showed that the "Old Continent" was also getting dragged down in a disquieting way. Things are likely to get worse. The fallout from the 11 September attacks in New York is not over. Several of the laws passed to fight terrorism have raised concern and undermine the basic principal of a free flow of information. In Canada and the United States, steps have been taken to strengthen monitoring of the Internet and weaken a journalist's right not to reveal sources. In its war against what it calls "the evil-doers," the Bush
Administration is little bothered by the means that are used. The news media are pressed to take sides and propaganda takes precedence over the truth. The enemy must be defeated and media that
disagree must be crushed. Such black and- white attitudes are worrying.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand for press freedom
The new album of photos of Reporters Without Borders. On sale from 2 May at your news agent
The sale of the photo albums will raise money for Reporters Without Borders to continue its work fighting to free imprisoned journalists and defending press freedom wherever it is threatened.
After the example of SebastiÃ£o Salgado, Raymond Depardon, Marc Riboud, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Willy Ronis and William Klein, now Yann Arthus-Bertrand lends his work to Reporters Without Borders in the cause of press freedom. His photos show the world's beauty and also its fragility.
They remind us of our responsibility as citizens to protect our environment. They also display the talent and generosity of a photographer both rigorous and popular. As every year, the album is produced and sold with the help and efforts of the entire profession. Everyone contributes know-how, experience and enthusiasm, including the Nouvelle Messageries de la Presse Parisienne
(NMPP), Robert Delpire and the team at Idéodis, the Alice advertising agency. White Haven's beach at high tide, Queensland, Australia. (20Â°17 S, 148Â°59 E). Whitsunday, which today is
inhabited, is one of the 74 islands of the Cumberland archipelago, near Australia's eastern coast. It owes its name to "Captain Cook," who discovered the archipelago on a Pentecost Sunday in 1770-a day traditionally known as "Whit Sunday" in the United Kingdom. The island appears to have been occupied by aborigine populations since Early Neolithic times, when it was still
attached to the mainland. Today, it welcomes visitors solely within the framework of a highly regulated tourism industry. The beach of this aptly-named "white haven," fringed with mangroves, is renowned for the exceptional quality of its sand, which is composed of 98% silicate and is considered to be the purest in the world. The rare bathers on this beach are likely to be keeping company with manta rays, salt-water crocodiles, sea turtles and schools of dolphins. This site is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage List, and which
extends some 2,300 km [1,429 miles] off the Australian coast. About 20% of the Great Barrier Reef's coral has been damaged by the proliferation of a fearsome predator-the crown-ofthorns
starfish. Nearly all of the globe's coral is now in poor health, which, through a process analogous
to the desertification of the earth, is leading to a gradual elimination of the fauna and flora that live off of the coral.
The Earth from Above, an aerial portrait of our planet
Since 1990, Yann Arthus-Bertrand has carefully compiled a record of what the Earth looks like from the air. He spent 3,000 hours in helicopters and visited 85 countries to produce a overall portrait that should make us think about where the planet is heading and how its inhabitants will fare. The book is pictorial evidence, a working tool and a record bequeathed to future generations. Website: www.yannarthusbertrand.com
The book is published by Editions de La Martinière, Paris.
The press is free to use these two photos from the book without charge to help promote the RSF photo album: www.rsf.org (click on Press Zone downloads)
Reporters Without Borders exposes 38 predators of press freedom.
Two new enemies of freedom of expression denounced by RSF: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti) and Fahd ibn al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)
The Predators of Press Freedom
People are behind the violations of press freedom. Be they presidents, ministers, public prosecutors,
military chiefs of staff, Guides of the Revolution or simply leaders of armed factions, these predators of press freedom have the power to imprison, kidnap, torture and, in the worst of cases, murder journalists. These predators have faces. They have to be known so they can be condemned. Reporters Sans Frontières has decided to draw their portraits. At present they number thirty-eight. But the list is not closed and will be updated whenever it has to be, as these enemies of free speech indulge in these outrages.
They are not all official representatives of a state. More and more often, they belong to or lead
armed factions that either fight against or support a regime. This privatised violence must also be
condemned. Too many journalists are victimised by independence-seeking organisations, fundamentalist religious movements, criminal bands or drug traffickers.
The impunity enjoyed by the murderers of journalists is the challenge that organisations for the
defence of press freedom must now meet. This is why Reporters Sans Frontières has established the
Damocles Network. It is a means for fighting against yesterday's and today's predators, to keep
them from living peacefully in their countries or safe havens. Dictators and masters of war of every
stripe must be made to answer for their crimes before international justice. It is time for the dragon
of impunity to be slain.
General secretary Of Reporters Without Borders
Eduardo dos Santos (Angola)
A pragmatic Marxist active in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA)
since he was a teenager, the Soviet-trained engineer became independent Angola's second president
in 1979 when he was 37. The civil war, pitting the MPLA against Jonas Savimbi's UNITA since
independence, has drained away most of the country's economic resources. The war also gives the
regime a handy excuse for the lack of any real democracy and for its total control over information.
The authoritarian Dos Santos, who is feared within his own party, doesn't take kindly to criticism, as independent journalist Rafael Marques found out in July 1999, when he wrote an article saying the president was partly responsible for the country's ruin. He was held for more than a month later that year, an MPLA member of parliament threatened to kill him and he was then given a six-month suspended prison sentence.
Alexander Lukashenka (Belarus)
Famous for his great love of sport, he also likes hunting down his opponents and brutally
repressing the media. This intensified in the run-up to the September 2001 presidential election when he was voted back into power. All broadcasting media are directly controlled by the state and everything is done to stifle the independent press, by seizing publications, closing printing works and confiscating equipment, along with threats of closure, physical attacks and intimidation of journalists.
Dmitri Zavadaski, once the president's personal cameraman, has been missing since 7 July 2000.
He left the state television in 1996 to work for the Russian channel ORT against the will of Lukashenka who, according to the journalist's wife, swore "never to forgive him." Two former employees of the state prosecutor's office, now in exile in the US, say they have evidence Zavadaski has been murdered and that the government is involved.
FranÃ§ois Compaore (Burkina Faso)
Since 1989 he has officially been "an economic affairs adviser" to his older brother Blaise, the president since 1987. On 13 December 1998, Norbert Zongo, publisher of the weekly L'Indépendant, died along with three friends, apparently when their vehicle burned. But they had been shot dead before the fire. Zongo was investigating the murder of David Ouedraogo, FranÃ§ois
Compaore's driver. In December 1997, after a large sum of money was stolen from FranÃ§oisâ home, presidential guards seized and tortured four employees suspected of the theft, including Ouedraogo, who died from his wounds. Zongo had several times denounced in his paper the suspected role of
FranÃ§ois in the murder. On 17 January 2001, FranÃ§ois was questioned by the judge investigating
Zongo's death. In February, a top presidential guard officer was charged with murder. FranÃ§ois
Compaore is clearly involved in the trial of Zongo's killers.
Than Shwe (Burma)
Since 1992, the general has been head of the military junta, head of government, defence minister and head of the armed forces. He refuses to allow any press freedom, even though cautious negotiations are under way with the Democratic Party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. As of 1 January 2002, 17 journalists were behind bars, making the country the world's biggest jailer for journalists at the time. Four journalists have died in the hands of the army over the past four years.
In a country where all key government and economic jobs are held by the military, no criticism of the army is tolerated. Two journalists, Soe Thein and San San Nweh, were released in 2001 but their writings are still censored. At least 15 foreign correspondents, dubbed "enemies of Burma," have been expelled under Than Shwe's regime and their names put on a "black list."
The Kidnapping Mafia (Chechnya)
A "kidnapping mafia", using violence against journalists, operates in Chechnya under the protection of warlords. Many journalists have been held for months before being released in exchange for ransom or swapped for Chechen prisoners. Brice Fleutiaux, a French freelance photographer, was kidnapped on 1 October 1999 in Grozny by an armed gang and held for eight months by different Chechen groups, one of which had close contact with Vice-President Vakha Arsanov. Chechen rebels killed several journalists in 2000. Vladimir Yatsina, a photographer with the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, held since July 1999 by Chechen fighters, was eventually murdered because his wounds slowed down their withdrawal in the face of the Russian army's advance. Journalist Alexander Yefremov and two Russian officers were killed when their vehicle
drove over a remote-controlled landmine in southeastern Chechnya. Freelance cameraman Adam
Tepsurgayev was shot dead near Grozny by Chechen-speaking armed men.
Jiang Zemin (China)
He makes no bones about wanting to become China's third "Red Emperor". To strengthen his grip on the state, the president launched a campaign to control the media and the Internet. A dozen journalists have been dismissed since early 2001 for tackling controversial subjects such as corruption. To make sure the message got through, in July 2001 the government reminded the country of the "Seven Prohibitions," especially one about "disrupting the work of the Party". As soon as China was awarded the Olympic Games, the president asked his security services to ensure a "healthy Internet". In less than two months, police arrested a dozen cyberdissidents and closed more than 8,000 cyber-cafés.
Described in his official biography as "modest and courteous," Jiang Zemin has never intervened in
favour of journalist Wu Shishen, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992. In fact the president personally urged a stiff sentence for him.
Carlos CastaÃ±o (Colombia)
Initially head of a paramilitary faction in the northwestern province of Cordoba, he founded the
United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) in 1997 to take his fight against the guerrillas nationwide. His "military targets" are not only armed guerrillas but also "civilian guerrillas" - among them journalists, nine of whom are thought to have been killed by the AUC since 1997 for having defended government negotiations with the guerrillas or for simply publishing the number of paramilitaries killed in the fighting. He is now being sought for having ordered the August 1999
murder of the well-known satirist and political commentator, Jaime Garzon. About his brutalities
against the press, CastaÃ±o says: "I cannot accept journalism being used as a weapon by a party to
Manuel Marulanda and NicolÃ¡s RodrÃguez Bautista (Colombia)
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Marxist), led by Manuel Marulanda, accused the daily newspaper El Tiempo and the RCN and Caracol media groups in October 2001 of being "enemies of the peace process" between the armed group and the government. A year earlier, a plan had been discovered implicating the FARC in a plot to kill journalist Francisco "Pacho" Santos, of the daily El Tiempo.. The armed groups led by Marulanda and by NicolÃ¡s RodrÃguez Bautista, head of the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarist), have said on several occasions they consider journalists "who defend the army's activities" to be "military targets." They have killed at least two since 1995 and kidnapped nearly 50, usually to force the media to denounce atrocities by the army or the paramilitaries.
Fidel Castro (Cuba)
Although the Cuban constitution bans any private ownership of the media, about 100 journalists working for some 20 independent press agencies are trying to exercise their right to inform the
public. By calling them "counter-revolutionaries," President Fidel Castro, in power since January
1959, is determined to maintain his grip on information. The "Maximum Leader's" strategy is
harassment, through seizing equipment, pressure on families, arrests and police summonses, and
about 50 journalists have fled into exile abroad since 1995. Bernardo Arévalo Padron, convicted of
"insulting" the head of state, is the last journalist prisoner of conscience in the Americas. Often pressure on just one foreign correspondent, sometimes by the "Comandante" himself, is meant as a warning to the whole foreign press corps.
Joseph Kabila (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Thin and reserved, this 32-year-old major-general seems the exact opposite of his father Laurent, who was assassinated on 16 January 2001 in Kinshasa. Brought up in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, the new president has commanded the country's army since September 1999. When he
was sworn in, he spoke in favour of human rights and democracy and toured western capitals where
these subjects were discussed.
But nothing was done and, with national mourning over, attacks on press freedom have actually increased. The young head of state does not control the various security forces, which remain the major threat to the press. Since 1997, more than 130 journalists have been arrested by one of the country's nine security forces and many have been tortured. Deep-rooted old habits are not so easy to change.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea)
He overthrew his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema in 1979 and has run the former Spanish colony with an iron hand ever since. He was "re-elected" president in 1996 with more than 99 per cent of the vote in elections boycotted by the opposition. Democracy is only theoretical and human rights violations are very common. A soldier by profession, he is not used to being contradicted. The state-controlled press, radio and television are under the thumb of his party. The few independent newspapers keep their circulation figures quiet, so the regime considers them dangerous. Journalists are arrested, interrogated and threatened and non-official publications are intimidated through financial pressure. The foreign press is rarely seen.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti)
"I make a choice to protect democracy," he says to those who accuse him of tolerating impunity. Since the murder on 3 April 2000 of Jean Dominique, head of Radio Haiti Inter, impunity has been at the root of the authorities' strategy of cowing the media. Every state institution has blocked the investigation into the Dominique murder. Aristide refused to renew the appointment of the judge in charge of the case. At best, he is protecting the killers, at worst he is involved in the murder himself, say many observers. Confident of not being punished, supporters of the former priest's Fanmi Lavalas party have stepped up attacks on journalists they regard as too critical. The attacks
peaked in December 2001 with the murder of another radio journalist. But despite confessing, the
killers have not been arrested. With the president failing to disown the actions of his supporters, more than a dozen journalists have fled into exile.
Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia)
He seized power in Addis Ababa in 1991 with the help of Eritrean rebels after 20 years in the bush as a guerrilla with the Tigre Marxist rebels, whose information and propaganda operation he ran. He turned his back on communism in 1990, but as prime minister he has not liberalised the country.
Genuine democracy and media diversity do not seem among his priorities. In fact, he has a special
aversion to independent media. In 1996 he called the country's handful of authorised newspapers the "gutter press." He also does not like jokes. He has sued dozens of journalists for libel and twice in 1996 journalists were jailed because their papers printed unflattering cartoons of him. Three others spent four years in prison in the capital before being released for "lack of evidence".
Issaias Afeworki (Eritrea)
Born in 1945 to a Christian family in Asmara, he studied engineering in Addis Ababa before joining the Popular Front for the Liberation of Eritrea, which was fighting for the country's independence. He became leader of the Front in 1974 and Eritrea's first president in 1993.
Often accused of autocratic tendencies, he only recently showed himself to be a "predator of press
freedom." On 18 September 2001, the government banned all privately-owned media "until further
notice." At least eight journalists were arrested over the next few days and at least two fled the country. The reason for the arrests is not known and the state media have not mentioned them.
Eritrea is the only African country that no longer has any privately-owned media.
Ali Khamenei (Iran)
In August 1989, most of Iran's Shiite clergy acclaimed him as the country's supreme religious
and political authority in succession to Ayatollah Khomeini, whose zealous disciple he had been. The new "Guide of the Islamic Republic" has steadily became master of the country. When the reformist Mohammed Khatami was elected president in May 1997, a struggle began between
the "Guide" and the new head of government. The gap between them widened in April 2000 when the reformers won parliamentary elections. Since then, the press has been hammered because it mostly supports Khatami. Around 50 publications have been banned and dozens of journalists arrested by the judiciary, which is controlled by conservatives close to Khamenei. Twenty journalists were in jail in January 2002, making Iran the Middle East's biggest jailers of journalists.
Shaul Moffaz (Israel)
Born in 1948, he joined the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in 1966 and rose to be army chief of staff in 1998. Since the start of the second Intifada on 29 September 2000, more than 30 journalists have been wounded in shooting by the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories. Most were photographers or cameramen, clearly identifiable as such and shot some distance away from clashes. Very few serious investigations of the shootings have been done and those responsible have not been punished. Most of the incidents involved Palestinians working for major international media. Since January 2002, most of them have not been able to renew their press cards, without which they cannot travel between Israel and the different territories. On 19 January 2002, the Israeli Army destroyed the building in Ramallah housing the Palestinian radio and television headquarters.
Saddam Hussein (Iraq)
In power since 1979, he is now president, prime minister, head of the Revolutionary Command Council, head of the Ba'ath Party and boss of the armed forces. He has created a fearsome police state where all opposition is ruthlessly suppressed. In March 2000, the pro-government weekly Al-Zawra listed 32 writers who left the country after the Gulf War and called them "enemies" because they had published articles in opposition newspapers abroad. Saddam controls all the media and his eldest son Uday chairs the editorial boards of six dailies and a dozen weeklies and runs the country's three TV stations.
The official press, especially the daily Al-Thawra, the ruling party's organ, energetically defends government positions and regularly attacks "foreign enemies." Journalist Hashem Hassan has been in jail since September 1999, when he reportedly refused the editorship of the government magazine Arrafidayn offered to him by Uday Hussein.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (Kalmykia Republic - Russian Federation)
The young millionaire businessman was elected president of this small Russian republic at the mouth of the Volga River on the Caspian Sea in 1993. He wants to bring prosperity by developing the country's caviar, oil and natural gas. But he also wants to crack down on political parties and ban newspapers. Ilyumzhinov, who is proud of being president of the International Chess Federation and making the country attractive to foreign investors, does not accept the slightest criticism.
Press freedom is constantly abused and the authorities take one of the harshest lines towards the media in the entire Russian Federation. Impunity is routine in attacks on journalists. Those who
ordered the June 1998 kidnapping and murder of journalist Larissa Yudina, editor the opposition newspaper Sovietskaya Kalmykia Sevodnia, are still free.
Khamtai Siphandon (Laos)
In power since 1998, he was once propaganda chief for the country's only legal political party. Such a background encourages him to keep very tight control over the media, including the Vientiane Times and Le Rénovateur, which are read by the elite and foreigners. In 2000, he decided to take repressive measures against the Internet and in 2001 to train journalists to cover the news "more favourably to the government." The media faithfully puts out party propaganda and attacks the foreign press for "trying to destabilise" the country. In October 2001, Siphandon refused to give
any information about the arrest of five European activists of the Transnational Radical Party on the anniversary of student demonstrations in Vientiane in October 1999. The authorities have never given any information either about one of the arrested student leaders, Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, who has written articles about the situation in Laos.
Mahathir Mohammad (Malaysia)
"Some countries need good dictators," says the man who has been Malaysian prime minister since 1981. This self-styled guardian of "Asian values," as opposed to "Western democracy," has amended the press and internal security laws to control the media. In 2000, four opposition publications were refused new publishing licences. In 2001, two independent newspapers serving the large Chinese community were bought by people close to the prime minister. Issues of the international magazine Asiaweek are often banned. Mahathir accused Asiaweek of printing a picture of him in February 2001 that he said made him look like "a fool." Independent journalists use the Internet to avoid harassment, but a correspondent of the online daily Malaysiakini.com has been jailed since April 2001 and its reporters are often barred from official press conferences.
Muammar Gaddafi (Libya)
He is now the longest-serving leader in the Arab world. After he seized power in 1969, the colonel established an authoritarian regime. In August 2000, after Libyan intervention in the hostage-taking incident in the Philippines island of Jolo, Libya welcomed journalists from around the world and Gaddafi sought to present himself as a great defender of humanitarian causes. But at home, he still does not allow a free media. The four official newspapers, along with the television and radio,
carry only the regime's propaganda. No criticism of Gaddafi is permitted. Visas are rarely granted to foreign journalists. Abdullah Ali al-Sanussi al- Darrat, in prison since 1973, is the longestheld
journalist in the world. It is not known where he is held or what his health is like. Many suspect
he has died in jail.
Kim Jong-il (North Korea)
He succeeded his father Kim Il- Sung as "supreme leader" in 1994. Egocentric and erratic,
he official rules his ailing country through the single post of chairman of the national defence commission. The country's official historical dictionary says the role of the press is to make
known, explain and defend the policy of the sole political party and of "the Respected Comrade Kim Jong-il" and help perfect the dictatorship of the proletariat.
While the "Dear Leader" satisfies his insatiable appetite for films and luxury cars, North Koreans are only allowed to have radios that are locked onto the official frequencies, and the seals are checked every three months. News of information on famine and repression spread under cover. The foreign media is banned. A historic meeting between the presidents of the two Koreas in June 2000 has not led to expected changes.
Palestinian Security Forces (Palestinian Authority)
Since the Palestinian Authority does not have an army, a dozen "security forces" maintain law and order. They act with complete impunity, like political police, ready to muffle all dissenting voices. In 2000 they interrogated or detained several journalists reporting criticism of the Palestinian Authority. Several TV stations were closed temporarily for similar reasons. Since the second Intifada began, both official and privately-owned media have been propaganda vehicles for the Palestinian Authority. TV stations continuously broadcast programmes praising martyrs and stirring up hatred and violence. Several foreign journalists have been threatened, intimidated or
attacked by security forces. Foreign reporters known to be critical of the Palestinian Authority run
serious risks if they try to enter the Territories. But Palestinian reporters are at risk too. Few Israeli journalists dare enter Palestinian territory.
Paul Kagame (Rwanda)
In July 1994, he and his Rwandan Patriotic Front guerrillas ended the Rwandan genocide by seizing
power in Kigali. In April 2000, he was elected president. At 45, Kagame's tall, austere, but courteous appearance hides an inflexible temperament that does not accept much criticism. Internal opposition is muzzled and opponents are even targeted in exile, where several have been murdered or received death threats. At least eight journalists are still being held without trial, including Dominique Makeli, who has been in prison in Kigali since September 1994. In December 2001, the managing editor of one publication spent several days in jail after giving space to the banned political party of former President Pasteur Bizimungu.
Vladimir Putin (Russia)
President Putin, a KGB officer for 16 years, considers news as a "strategic sector," to be kept
under control. His priority is to strengthen the state-owned media so as to beam "reliable"
information to Russians. The power struggle he waged with the media "oligarchs" led to the state taking control of the independent TV station NTV and the dissolution of TV6, the last independent station with a nationwide audience. Information on the war in Chechnya is tightly controlled. Journalists who try to go off the beaten track, such as Anna Politkovskaya, are routinely arrested and frequently targets of violence. Andrei Babitsky, a reporter with the Russian service of Radio Free Europe, was held for weeks by Russian troops and then by pro-Russian Chechen armed groups. The new jailing at the end of 2001 of journalist Grigory Pasko, who had reported the dumping of nuclear waste in the Sea of Japan, was intended as a warning to the media not to cover subjects deemed sensitive by civil and military authorities.
Fahd ibn al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)
King Fahd ibn al-Saud has had serious health problems since 1996 and his half-brother Prince Abdallah unofficially rules the kingdom. The country's wealth makes it possible to control
much of the Arab media, especially some papers based in London. Censorship is routine
inside the country. No criticism is allowed of the government, the royal family, religious
leaders or friendly foreign heads of state. A number of state censorship bodies keep a tight
rein on all the media. The official Saudi Press Agency is directly answerable to the interior ministry. Journalists regarded as disrespectful have been banned from working and from leaving the country.
Journalists are favourite targets of the terror campaign waged by the armed separatist organisation
Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) in its fight against the Spanish state. In the Basque region, as in the rest of the country, media and journalists who do not share its radical nationalist ideology are dubbed "traitors" or "Spanish invaders" and threatened with death. Violence against the press worsened after losses by the separatist party in regional elections in May 2001 and on 24 May,
Santiago Oleaga Elejabarrieta, financial director of the daily El Diario Vasco, was murdered
in San Sebastian. On 15 May, Basque journalist Gorka Landaburu, correspondent for the Madrid magazine Cambio 16 and for Radio France, received face and hand injuries when a parcel bomb exploded at his home. Jos Luis Lopez de Lacalle, of the daily El Mundo, was killed in May 2000 in an attack for which the ETA claimed responsibility. Nearly 100 journalists and publishers are under official or private protection in the Basque country and in Madrid.
Bashar el-Assad (Syria)
In July 2000, he succeeded his father, Hafez, who had single-handedly run Syria since 1970.
Once in power, the young Assad, an ophthalmologist by training and a computer enthusiast,
wanted to show the world his country was opening up to the media. But despite the release in 2001 of two jailed journalists, including Nizar Nayyuf (1998 winner of the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France annual prize) after nine years in prison, there was no real change. Nearly all authorised newspapers print propaganda, and the president has total control over radio and television. The only independent newspaper, Addomari, founded in February 2001, is under regular pressure from the authorities. The foreign press, along with the Internet, is tightly censored.
Mswati III (Swaziland)
Now 33, he has ruled Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, since 1986. His father banned
political parties and in 1973 replaced the constitution by a "royal proclamation." In line with this
tradition, Mswati III shows little enthusiasm for sharing power despite recent strikes and demonstrations calling for a multi-party democracy. Freedom of expression is severely limited.
Criticism of the monarch is forbidden and censorship is routine. In 2001, two privatelyowned
publications, The Nation and The Guardian, were banned twice in one month. In June 2001, the king issued a decree allowing him to ban any publication without explanation or legal procedure. When the United States threatened to suspend aid, the king revoked part of the controversial decree but did not say which clauses remained in force.
Gnassingbe Eyadema (Togo)
The 63-year-old general has run Togo with an iron hand for nearly 40 years and is the longest-serving president in Africa. Born to a peasant family in Pya, in the north of the country, he joined the French army as soon as he was old enough. After returning to Togo, he and 30 other soldiers seized power on 13 January 1963 by attacking the home of President Sylvanus Olympio, killing him. Eyadema officially became president in 1967. A quiet man, he rarely says what he thinks
about his country s media. But many journalists have suffered his wrath. In the past six years, 21 journalists have been arrested and several jailed for libel or insulting the head of state. Police have also seized tens of thousands of copies of opposition newspapers.
Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia)
He took over from the ailing Habib Bourguiba in 1987 and in the last decade, with support from a 130,000-strong police force, has muzzled all dissenting voices. Both the privately-owned and the official media have the same tone since all criticism of the regime is unofficially banned. Two pro-Fundamentalist journalists, Hamadi Jebali and Abdullah Zuari, have been in prison since 1991. Others, such as Tewfik ben Brik, are constantly harassed. Sihem Bensedrine, who founded an online monthly magazine, Kalima, was jailed for six weeks in 2001, accused of disseminating "false news intended to disturb public order" after comments she made on the London-based Al Mustaqila TV station. The authorities also keep a very close eye on the Internet, blocking access to sites and intercepting e-mail.
Separmurad Niyazov (Turkmenistan)
The "President-for-Life" legally has total control of the media, which is a "black hole" in central
Asia for freedom of information. The entire media fosters the personality cult of the man who has proclaimed himself "Turkmenbashi" - Father of all Turkmenis. One TV station is entirely devoted
to his life and the regime's "great successes." Official news comes from only one source, the president's personal press office. Until recently, the national press was obliged to publish his picture every day. The government monitors all e-mail and international phone calls. Citizens have no option but to turn to foreign, especially Russian media to get news that is not propaganda.
Huseyin Kivrikoglu (Turkey)
The head of Turkey's armed forces belongs to the National Security Council, an advisory body in charge of administering the state of emergency in the south-eastern province of Anatolia. The Council is a formidable instrument of media repression and stifling democratic debate and allows
the army to constantly impose its views. More than a dozen newspapers were banned in the province in 2000. Journalists who challenge the army are routinely prosecuted and usually
receive heavy sentences. Expression of certain opinions still carries a prison sentence in this country which has applied for membership of the European Union. Academic and editorialist Fikret Baskaya was jailed for 16 months in June 2001 for saying the government's handling of the Kurdish question was "racist and nationalist." Five other journalists are in jail for their opinions. The European Union has several times expressed concern at the army's role in Turkey.
Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine)
This cautious but authoritarian man does not accept criticism. Since his election in 1994, press freedom in Ukraine has steadily deteriorated, despite threats by the Council of Europe in 1999
to suspend Ukraine's membership. More and more journalists are being attacked and intimidated.
Eleven have been killed in the past five years and 20 were brutally attacked in 2001 alone. Igor
Alexandrov, head of a regional TV station that criticised the political and judicial authorities, was beaten to death with a baseball bat in July 2001. The legal system and the police are still seriously
obstructing the investigation into the murder in 2000 of journalist Georgy Gongadze. Tape recordings reportedly made in the president's office seem to implicate him in the journalistâs kidnapping and murder. After his headless body was found in November 2000, an investigation
was carried out, but only to protect the government from the serious allegations against it.
Gongadze's murder threatens Kuchma's authority.
Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan)
The ruler of Uzbekistan since independence in 1991 makes no secret of his wish to be a key figure in Central Asia. The fight against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are constantly cited by the
regime to justify blanket repression of the opposition and journalists. Journalists risk jail for "insulting" remarks about the government or the president. All information originates from and must be approved by the government and the media is not allowed to mention existence of an opposition, crime or corruption or discuss civil liberties, individual rights or ethnic minorities.
Journalist Jusuf Ruzimuradov, jailed for eight years in August 1999 for "belonging to an illegal organisation" and "insulting" the president in the media, is still in jail and is thought to have been tortured. Threats of rape against members of his family, maltreatment and psychological pressure are believed to have been used to extract confessions from him.
Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)
In power for more than 20 years, he is now strongly challenged inside the country. As part of his bloody struggle with white farmers, he is targeting independent journalists and foreign reporters. In 2001, Zimbabwe became the African country with the worst press freedom situation. Twenty local journalists were arrested and three foreign correspondents deported. Mugabe and his government make constant sensational statements against the press, which they regularly accuse of "spying" or "terrorism." Yet the former schoolteacher, who has six university degrees, was hailed as a liberator when he won the 1980 presidential elections which ended white minority rule. Today he charges that the privately-owned local press only tells "lies" and that foreign media are out to "destabilise" the country.
Nong Duc Manh (Vietnam)
At 61, he is the youngest member of the ruling Communist Party's politburo but is no reformer. As president of parliament for eight years, he pushed through a harsh press law in 1999 that gave the culture and information minister full control of the media and especially the Internet. Nong did not ease measures against Vietnamese dissidents imposed by his predecessor Le Kha Phieu. Dissident journalists risk heavy jail sentences for libel and "spreading false news". One, Nguyen Dinh Huy, 68, has been in prison since November 1993, when he was sentenced to 15 years for "being part of a banned movement." Two dissident journalists, Bui Minh Qouc and Ha Sy Phu, are both under house arrest. Foreign journalists who try to meet dissidents are not welcome in Vietnam.