CPJ sees press freedom deteriorating in Pakistan
NEW YORK: Two Asian nations, Pakistan and Thailand, are among the countries where press freedom has deteriorated the most over the last five years, a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday.
Pakistan ranks No 6 following alarming increases in the murders and abductions of journalists, while Thailand comes 10th because of the new military government’s sweeping effort to control broadcast media, according to a press release.
In the report, issued on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, falling on May 3 (today), Pakistan and Thailand join the CPJ’s “dishonour roll”, which is headed by Ethiopia, where the government has launched a massive crackdown on the press by shutting newspapers and jailing editors. Other backsliders are Egypt, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Gambia, Russia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The backsliders reflect a mixture of relatively open countries that have turned increasingly repressive and traditionally restrictive nations, where press conditions, remarkably, have worsened. Nations such as Thailand and Morocco have been considered press freedom leaders in their regions but have charted sharp declines over the past five years. Other countries such as Cuba have long had poor records but have ratcheted up press restrictions through widespread imprisonments, expulsions, and harassment,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.
The behaviour of all of these countries is deeply troubling, but the rapid retreats in nations where the media have thrived demonstrate just how easily the fundamental right to press freedom can be taken away, Simon added.
In Pakistan, which is ruled by President Pervez Musharraf, the report said, eight journalists were killed and at least 15 abducted in the last five years, but convictions have been won in only one case. “Government security agents interrogate reporters who interview Taliban figures. The directorate for the ISI is suspected in some abductions,” it added.
To determine trends in press conditions, the CPJ analysed case data worldwide for the years 2002 through 2007. Its staff judged conditions in seven categories: government censorship, judicial harassment, criminal libel prosecutions, journalist deaths, physical attacks on the press, journalist imprisonments, and threats against the press.
Source: The News