Online journalists attacked -CPJ
22 February 2012, 13:34
United States - A global coalition against censorship is needed to protect
online journalists and bloggers who are being targeted by repressive
governments, a leading advocacy group said on Tuesday.
46 journalists died around the world in 2011, the Committee to Protect
Journalists(CPJ) said, an increase from the estimate it released in December.
Seven journalists were killed in Pakistan, where 29 journalists have
been killed in the past five years.
Freelancers, bloggers and
citizen journalists like those reporting in the Middle East have few
resources to defend themselves against censorship and attacks, the CPJ
Authoritarian states are buying communications
surveillance equipment from Western manufacturers and using it to
monitor and target journalists and bloggers, the group said.
report cited people in Syria who smuggled video footage to reporters
across the world and were consequently tracked and tortured by
government authorities after their Facebook accounts were hacked by the
Syrian Electronic Army, a government-sponsored hacking group.
New York-based group said the number of deaths while covering dangerous
assignments, such as street protests, reached the highest level since
1992. Most of the deaths were in the Middle East and North Africa, where
19 journalists died last year, most while covering the Arab world
One third of those killed were freelance journalists,
more than double the proportion that freelancers have constituted over
Nine online journalists were killed for their work,
including Mexican reporter Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro, whose
decapitated body was found with a note saying she had been killed for
reporting news on social media websites. Her death was the first
documented by CPJ that was directly tied to journalism published on
The committee found that 179 journalists were
imprisoned as of December 1, an increase driven by widespread
imprisonment across the Middle East and North Africa. About half of
those work primarily online, the committee said.
The highest number of jailed journalists was in Iran, where 42 reporters were behind bars.
the internet and social media has helped democratise the dissemination
of information, the nature of such newsgathering leaves journalists
especially vulnerable to censorship and retaliation, the CPJ said in its
annual survey. There are few legal mechanisms to fight censorship on an
international level, the group said.
The CPJ said governments,
the business community and human rights organisations must urge
intergovernmental groups to create a legal framework to adjudicate press
freedom cases at the international level.
In 2010, CPJ hired its
first internet advocacy co-ordinator to act as a liaison between
Silicon Valley and the journalists who depend on their products - "not
only to get the news out, but also to protect them and their sources
from physical harm", the report said.