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Press freedom under attack around the world, WAN-IFRA says

(WAN-IFRA/IFEX) - 4 October 2010 - At least 56 journalists have been killed in the first eight and a half months of 2010, and media employees worldwide continue to face physical violence and persecution of all kinds, whether from public officials, criminals or terrorists, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) said in its annual review of press freedom.

Assaults are daily - and often deadly - for those who challenge governments, report on conflicts or investigate corruption and crime, said the report, presented to the Board of WAN-IFRA, meeting in Hamburg, Germany, during the IFRA Expo. At least 120 media employees were in jail as of mid-September 2010, most often following sham trials or without charges having been brought against them. Hundreds more have been forced into exile.

The report said:

­In Latin America, media professionals face serious threats from both governments and powerful crime syndicates. Organised crime and high-level corruption remain the most sensitive subjects for journalists, in a continent where a deep-rooted culture of impunity prevails and where authoritarian and populist regimes do not tolerate scrutiny or dissent.

Mexico, where the government's war against powerful drug cartels continues, remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalists worldwide. No less than eight journalists have been murdered since the beginning of the year. In the past months, media based in the northern part of the country have refused to cover any event related to the war on drug trafficking, resulting in widespread self-censorship and major news blackouts.

­Sub-Saharan Africa remains a dangerous place for the media. Journalists are subjected to harassment, violence and threats of all kinds by heads of state, elected officials, corrupt authorities and militia. Despite the widespread use of defamation and libel laws to silence critics, journalists and citizens alike continue to vigorously and courageously campaign for freedom of expression.

­Those in power throughout the Middle East and North Africa continue to resort to harassment, censorship, prosecution, fining and imprisonment of news media professionals in order to control information. Their hostility toward independent and opposition media has often proven to be ruthless.

­A culture of harassment, intimidation and assaults against journalists continues unabated in certain countries of Europe and Central Asia. The widespread use of insult laws and a growing number of nations proposing legislation aimed at stifling press freedom, particularly in the name of anti-terrorism, is commonplace.

­Governments across Asia continue to apply a range of methods to restrict press freedom as a means of controlling their societies and limiting the spread of dissent. The region is still one of the most repressive areas in the world for independent media and reports of state interference, impunity for acts of violence against journalists and lack of protection for media professionals are widespread.

To read the complete report, with region-by-region details, click here
Details of the cases of journalists murdered in 2010 can be found here

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