RWB condemns attacks on journalists
PESHAWAR: The Reporters Without Borders (RWB) on Thursday while condemning the furious pace of physical attacks on news providers said as many as 21 journalists and six netizens have been killed since the start of 2012, many of them in war zones such as Somalia and Syria.
This is a rate of one news-provider killed every five days, it said in a press statement commemorating World Press Freedom Day. The day was commemorated in Pakistan with calls for improved security arrangements for journalists working in conflict-affected regions across the country.
The RWB also released a list of its “predators of the freedom to inform”, which has now 41 members. The country’s top three intelligence agencies – the Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau and the Inter-Services Intelligence – are on the list. “The world’s predators of the freedom to inform, led by Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Somalian militias, are capable of behaving like outright butchers,” it said. The 2011 revolts toppled several despots who were on the predators list such as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdallah Saleh, but they unfortunately did not reduce the overall number of these enemies of information.
The RWB said, “Six new predators have joined this ‘evil club’ in 2012, Boko Haram, an Islamist group that spreads terror in Nigeria; Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has regrettably taken over from deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak as regards violating freedom of information; the Somali federal government’s information minister, who is responsible for harassment and intimidation of the media; Vasif Talibov, the all-powerful leader of Azerbaijan’s ‘autonomous republic’ of Nakhchivan; Pakistan’s intelligence agencies; and Kim Jong-un, who perpetuated North Korea’s predatory dictatorship on the death of his father, King Jong-il.”
“There is a growing trend for countries to have more than one predator. Six countries now have two. Somalia has as the Islamist militia al-Shabaab as well as the information minister. Pakistan has the Taliban as well as the intelligence agencies. Azerbaijan has President Ilham Aliev as well as Nakhchivan’s strongman, Talibov, who has turned his fiefdom into a laboratory for the repressive methods that Aliev applies in the rest of the country,” it added.
The RWB paid tribute to citizen journalists, the last bastion of the freedom to inform when governments want to crush opposition without letting the outside world know. “In view of the turmoil resulting from the Arab springs, Reporters Without Borders has decided to accompany the region’s new governments during their progress towards democracy,” it also said.
Because of the growing dangers to journalists, the RWB urged the news media to begin a debate about the protection of the stringers, fixers and local journalists they used, and about the protection of their sources and the people they interviewed.
It also called on governments to implement international provisions on the protection of journalists in an effective manner.
“Five years after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1738, a status report is urgently needed on the specific steps taken to implement it. Governments must accept their responsibilities and obligations under paragraphs 6 and 7 to do their utmost to prevent violation of international humanitarian law against journalists and to end impunity for such violations,” the RWB said further.