Destination With Press Freedom Challenges To Avoid As Journalist
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) once again published the World's Worst Places to Be a Journalist on Monday, May 3, in honor of World Press FreedomDay. The locations on the list cover the whole spectrum of current press freedom challenges. This guide is for journalist who should avoid these destinations
Iraq is at the top of the list since there have been 25 journalist fatalities there since the U.S.-led war started in March 2003.
An unprecedented number of 29 journalists have been imprisoned in Cuba as a result of the violent crackdown that Fidel Castro's administration began last year and are currently serving sentences of up to 27 years. The government's 2017 closure of Zimbabwe's sole independent daily dealt the embattled media the country's worst blow.
On its list of the worst places for journalists, CPJ also included Turkmenistan, Bangladesh, China, Eritrea, Haiti, the West Bank and Gaza, and Russia.
According to CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper, "In all of these areas, reporting the newsis an act of courage and conviction." We all need journalism to understand the events that shape our lives, and violence and repression cannot satisfy our need or desire for information.
More than a year after the war in Iraq started, the country is still the most hazardous in the world for journalists to work. Since March 2003, 25 journalists have died while covering the war in Iraq. All twelve of those killed in 2004 were Iraqis.
Reporters face numerous dangers in post-war Iraq because of the prevalence of robberies, shootings, and explosions.
By routinely targeting foreigners, especially journalists, and Iraqis who work for them, insurgents have created a new menace.
Iraqi media professionals have been murdered at least six times, while dozens more have received threats. In 2004, armed gangs kidnapped eight journalists, but they were all eventually freed.
Working journalists face an additional threat from U.S. soldiers because at least seven and probably as many as nine have been killed by their own shooting. Other journalists, primarily Arab or Iraqi, have been imprisoned and mistreated by American forces.
Cuba's young independent press was wiped out in 2003 after 29 journalists were detained and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
The imprisoned journalists and their families are harassed, subjected to degrading prison circumstances, and subjected to psychological torture a year after the government of President Fidel Castro Ruz initiated a widespread crackdown against the press and the political opposition.
They have criticized receiving subpar medical care, being held in solitary confinement, and eating food that smells bad and is rotten.
The journalists, who are detained in facilities with the highest levels of security, have gone on multiple hunger strikes to demand better treatment.
Those journalists who were spared prison nevertheless have to deal with regular police harassment and intimidation, and they are cautious about what they publish.
They claim that state security officers have visited them and warned them to stop writing or face the repercussions.
Zimbabwe's government has been relentlessly suppressing the private press for the past four years through intimidation, censorship, and punitive legislation.
The government's closure of the Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily and the nation's most read publication, was the heaviest blow to press freedom to date.
Despite receiving two court orders to do so, the country's government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC) declined to register the journal.
Additionally, in February 2004, the Zimbabwean Supreme Court affirmed legislation that made it illegal to pursue journalism without government clearance by mandating that media outlets and journalists get MIC licenses. Failure to register can result in fines and up to two years in jail.
Officials in Zimbabwe have demonstrated a special sensitivity to media coverage of political upheaval and the country's serious economic issues. Journalists who covered pro-democracy demonstrations were attacked by members of the ruling party and imprisoned by police.
The U.K. Guardian's Andrew Meldrum, the last foreign journalist based in Zimbabwe, was deported last year by authorities who referred to him as an "undesirable inhabitant."
Independent journalism is essentially nonexistent in Turkmenistan since the dictatorial government there does not tolerate political opposition.
Saparmurat Niyazov, the president-for-life and self-described "father of all Turkmen," maintains strong control over all publications, radio stations, and television networks by personally choosing editors. His office also approves news reports prior to their publication or broadcast.
The reporting transmitted from abroad by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Turkmen station, which is supported by the U.S. government, is one of the few independent media channels that manages to break through this system of control.
This year, RFE/RL experienced severe official harassment once more. An RFE/RL stringer based in the capital, Ashgabat, was held by National Security Service (MNB) agents for two days in September 2003.
They also threatened him with 20 years in prison for betraying his nation and repeatedly injected him with an unidentified drug. More recently, two RFE/RL freelancers were detained by MNB officials in February 2004 when one of them sneaked 800 copies of his forbidden book into Turkmenistan. Following protests from the CPJ and other press freedomorganizations, both were released from prison in March.
The journalists are under pressure to cut all relations with RFE/RL yet continue to be accused of slander and inciting social, racial, and religious hatred.
The practice of independent journalism in Russia is becoming more and more precarious due to President Vladimir Putin's"managed democracy," which entails leveraging various government bureaucracies to restrain the independent media.
The Kremlin has been able to stifle criticism of the president and reports on government corruption and human rights abuses committed by Russian forces in Chechnya by switching from overt pressure to more subtle and covert tactics, like politicized lawsuits and hostile corporate takeovers by businessmen with close ties to Putin.
The Kremlin increased its legal and administrative controls over the domestic press in advance of the December 2003 parliamentary elections and the March 2004 presidential elections.
The state-run national media networks were attacked by Russian press organizations for unlawfully endorsing Putin and pro-Kremlin parties throughout the campaigns, but the Central Election Commission was not punished for this.
In the Russian countryside, murders of journalists continue to happen with no consequences.
Because of his newspaper's coverage of organized crime and political corruption, the editor-in-chief of an independent daily in the Volga River city of Togliatti was fatally stabbed in October 2003. He was the second paper's editor-in-chief to pass away in the previous 18 months.
According to "current community norms," the content must be disagreeable to the typical citizen and have no redeeming "literary, aesthetic, political, or scientific value." Another thing the press can't say is anything that could lead to violence or breaking the law right away.
A democracy where the people are the government's ultimate arbiters depends on press freedom, which is safeguarded by the First Amendment. A free press serves as a watchdog that can look into and report on misconduct by the government.
Thanks to press freedom, newspapers can verify political claims, periodicals can evaluate products, and sports websites may examine player contracts and salaries. You can see some examples of great news investigationin Kicker Daily.
If you work as a reporter, you should be aware of this list of nations and take precautions to keep yourself safe while performing your duties. We hope that this list of the worst nations for journalists will be useful to you to undertstand press freedom challenge around the world.