UNITED NATIONS (AP) — On World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders condemned the “astonishing pace” at which journalists are being attacked and murdered – 67 killed in 2011 and 22 more deaths since the beginning of the year.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attacks “outrageous” and urged all countries to prevent and prosecute violence against the media and take action to ensure the safety of journalists and freedom of the press.
At Thursday’s U.N. commemoration of Press Freedom Day, Ban asked the assembled diplomats, members of the media and civil society representatives to observe a minute of silence “in honor of the journalists who were killed in the line of duty last year.”
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 179 journalists were detained in 2011, a 20 percent increase over 2010 and the highest level since 1990, Ban said.
“Countless others face intimidation, harassment and censorship at the hands of governments, corporations and powerful individuals seeking to preserve their power or hide wrongdoings and misdeeds,” the secretary-general said.
Ireland’s President Michael Higgins, a former broadcaster, told the commemoration the deaths demonstrate the risks that journalists and media workers face and “their vulnerability to intimidation, violence and persecution.”
“Many were victims of targeted killings, while the circumstances of other killings may never be fully explained,” he said.
Reporters Without Borders updated its list of “predators of the freedom to inform” to 41 individuals and group. It said the first quarter of 2012 clearly showed that the world’s predators led by Syria’s President Bashar Assad and Somalia’s Islamist militias “are capable of behaving like outrageous butchers.”
The media advocacy organization, based in France, decried the increase in attacks and killings of news providers – up from 57 murders in 2010 to 67 in 2011, and 22 so far this year including five journalists killings in Somalia, four in Syria, and two each in Bangladesh, Brazil and India.
In Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, dozens of Somali journalists met Thursday in somber silence to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, a meeting that took place only hours after the killing of the fifth Somali journalist this year. Two armed men shadowed Somali radio journalist Farhan Abdulle after he left his station late Wednesday, then shot him dead.
The killings also continued in Mexico, which has become one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists amid a raging drug war. The bodies of two news photographers were found dismembered in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz on Thursday, less than a week after the killing in the state of a reporter for an investigative newsmagazine.
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