Today is World Press Freedom Day - you can learn more, at their website which is part of the "Press Under surveillance" site.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees freedom
'to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers'.Ho.Ho.Ho.
Historically, tyrannies, dictatorships and the thugs and bullies who run a great deal of the world and are represented at the UN and who are welcome at the Quai D'Orsay, The White House and No 10 Downing Street have long disregarded these declared Freedoms.
These Freedoms are now under assualt, throughout the world's greater Democracies labouring under Post 9/11 hysteria which brought in Patriot Acts, Anti Terrorism legislation and even by unlawful fiat by the President of the United States.
Anti-terrorism and official secrets laws
Criminalisation of speech judged to justify terrorism
Criminal prosecution of journalists and their sources for disclosing classified information
Unlawful surveillance of communications without judicial authorisation
Restrictions on access to government data and information
Stricter security classifications
...... are all eroding the capacity of both employed and frelance journalists worldwide, to investigate and report accurately and critically, and therefore the ability of the press to inform.
The final sanction against journalists is death - in 2006, 110m journalists died at work ( see details here ).
Walid Hassan, 47, a famous comedian and television presenter for Iraqi TV station Al-Sharkiya, was shot dead during a kidnapping attempt on 21, November in Baghdad. Hassan presented a popular satirical programme entitled ’Caricatures’, in which the targets she mocked included the US Army, Iraqi politicians, Shiite militias, and Sunni insurgents. Hassan was reportedly warned to leave her job prior to her murder. (see WaPo profile - when he died 133 journalists and media workers had been killed in Iraq since the illegal invasion)
Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia’s most prominent investigative journalists, who worked for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was gunned down on 7 october in Moscow. According to reports, she was shot dead in the lift of her apartment building. Politkovskaya was known for her investigative reports on human rights abuses in Chechnya. She was also an outspoken critic of President Putin, about whom she wrote the book "Putin’s Russia". During her career, she journalist received many threats on her life. Two years prior to the murder, Politkovskaya was allegedly poisoned on a plane on her way to cover the school hostage in Beslan. (Wiki list of journalists killed in Russia)
Bradley Will, an American documentary filmmaker who worked for New York’s Independent Media Centre (Indymedia) was shot in the chest and killed in Oaxaca, Mexico on 27, October, while reporting on demonstrations taking place there. Indymedia reports that Will was shot by pro-government paramilitaries. The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that local police may have been involved in the shooting, and has called for a criminal inquiry into the murder to be conducted by ‘federal authorities.’
Karen Fisher and Christian Struwe, two freelance journalists working for the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, were shot dead on 7 October in Baghlan, a city north of Kabul. According to reports, the two reporters were killed by unidentified gunmen as they were sleeping in their tent. Reportedly, they were in Afghanistan to do research for a documentary.
“This outrageous incident illustrates that the enemies of democracy and freedom of expression are still very powerful and can kill journalists everywhere,” Rahimullah Samander, President of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), told IRIN in Kabul.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the journalists' deaths."This heinous crime must be solved and the perpetrators brought before justice," he said while expressing his condolences to the victims' families, friends and colleagues.
Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann also gave his condolences to Fischer and Struwe's families and praised their work in the Middle East.
"Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe did ground-breaking work to reconstruct a functioning media apparatus in Afghanistan," he said. "It is tragic that Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe had to die in the country that they have personally supported over the past years."
Please go to the website and read about what you can do.
Top right Picture taken 19 January 2007 shows the dead body of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink gunned down and killed in front of his newspaper's office. Dink, 53, targeted by the courts for his views on the 1915-18 killings of Armenians, was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul 19 January. AFP PHOTO / MUSTAFA OZER