Friday, February 18, 2011

CPJ accuses UN of failing to protect journalists

16 February 2011

CPJ accuses UN of failing to protect journalists

While attacks on journalists caught up in the spreading Middle East unrest continue, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says the United Nations and other global and regional organisations responsible for defending press freedoms largely fail to protect them. Nor do they defend other journalists who are killed, threatened and harassed with impunity around the world, says CPJ in its annual report, "Attacks on the Press".

CPJ found that the UN, the Organization of American States and the Arab League are among groups that haven't consistently defended free expression, especially against government repression. "While international law guarantees the right to free expression, journalists cannot count on a robust defence of those rights," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.

"The failure to take a consistent position suggests a willingness to speak out publicly in support of press freedom that is based more on political considerations than a deep commitment," Simon said at the launch of the report at the UN. "As events in Egypt make clear, the stakes are enormous."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was cited for his failure to congratulate Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo for winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

In another example, CPJ points out that journalism and human rights organisations were forced to launch an international campaign to stop UNESCO from presenting a prize honouring President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa's most notorious press freedom abusers.

According to "Attacks on the Press", at least 44 journalists were killed specifically for their work worldwide in 2010. Pakistan accounted for eight of those 44, making it the most dangerous country for the press last year.

CPJ also says the number of jailed journalists is the highest it has been in 14 years, with 145 reporters, editors and photojournalists behind bars in 2010. China and Iran tied for the lead in number of journalists jailed, at 34 each.

"Attacks on the Press" provides more than 50 country and regional analyses on press freedom violations in 2010. This edition also includes a special feature on the invisible nature of online attacks meant to curb journalists, such as online surveillance and malicious software.