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George
4th May 2005, 10:54 AM
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said South Asia continues its well-deserved reputation as one of most unsafe places in the world for journalists to work.

In its third Annual Press Freedom Report for South Asia entitled "Courage and Censorship – Journalists and Press Freedom in South Asia 2004-2005" launched on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day Tuesday, the IFJ said daily attacks on media workers, a culture of impunity for those that target journalists, and a profoundly undemocratic and hostile media environment in many countries mean journalists who seek out and report truth (in the region) do so in a climate of fear and intimidation.

“The past year saw governments continue the crack down on democratic rights and press freedom in the name of tackling terrorism. And corrupt officials, insurgents, fundamentalists of all religions and gangsters with their own violent methods of silencing truth tellers, continue with impunity,” said Jacqueline Park, director, IFJ Asia-Pacific.

In a terrible and shocking toll, 19 media workers were killed in targeted attacks for their efforts to ensure the voice of the free press in South Asia is heard. The report also documents the declining media freedoms so important for media independence and vital to democracy.

“In the report, we recognise the amazing courage and professionalism of our colleagues across the region, many of whom work in the most difficult situations,” said Park.

The report tells how journalists in Nepal have been at the forefront of the opposition to the Royal takeover and clampdown on press freedom and democratic rights there; of the courage of Bangladeshi journalists who, despite daily attacks of the most horrific proportions, continue to expose the corruption that pervades the country; and of how journalists, while counting their own losses, were quick to tell the world and their own communities of the devastation caused by the tsunami, a statement issued by the IFJ said.

The report has been co-ordinated by the International Federation of Journalists on behalf of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), a coalition of journalists’ unions and press freedom organisations in the region. The SAMSN, bringing together more than 25,000 journalists across the region, is dedicated to building solidarity among journalists’ organisations and other groups in the region working to promote a safer working environment and greater respect for the work of journalists.

The IFJ called upon governments to respect democratic rights, investigate and follow up every attack and be held accountable when there is official indifference, negligence or, as in some cases, official complicity in attacks on media.

“Spotlighting the cases of violence against journalists and press freedom violations plays a valuable role in not only raising awareness of these issues but also in applying pressure to ensure that the perpetrators of these assaults are brought to justice,” said Park. nepalnews.com by May 03 05

http://www.nepalnews.com.np/archive/2005/may/may03/news08.php