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Media Group Says 2006 Was Deadly Year For Journalists

Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat was killed in Samarra in February 2006 (file photo) (AFP) February 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- International media freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says 2006 was the deadliest year for journalists in more than decade, and was also marked by a high number of arrests and imprisonment of journalists.

In its annual report, the Paris-based group said 81 media staffers died in the course of their work last year, 65 of them in Iraq. The death toll was the highest since 1994, a year of conflicts in Rwanda, Algeria, and the former Yugoslavia.

MORE: RSF comments on the situation in the Middle East and the CIS.

The report says 871 journalists spent time in jail last year, with the highest number of arrests in China, Cuba, and Ethiopia.

The group also raised concerns about media freedoms and the risk of self-censorship in democratic countries.

It said that democratic governments did little to defend journalists who were threatened during international uproar over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark.

Press Under Assault

Press Under Assault


BREAKING THE NEWS: Press freedom is under assault in virtually all of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Independent media confront enormous challenges in providing citizens with the independent information that can help advance democratic reforms. On May 2, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a roundtable briefing that gave an overview of media developments in the CIS and discussed the connections between press freedom and future democratization. The briefing featured Freedom House Director of Studies CHRISTOPHER WALKER, American University Associate Research Professor ROBERT ORTTUNG, and RFE/RL Central Asia analyst DANIEL KIMMAGE.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 90 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media

RFE/RL's Press Freedom Day stories:

Iraq: Covering The Most Dangerous Beat On Earth

Afghanistan: Women In Journalism Battle Restrictions, Threats

Iran: State Maintains Tight Control Over Information

CIS: Press Freedom In Former Soviet Union Under Assault

Central Asia: Bureaucratic Obstacles Hinder Journalists

Central Asia: Governments Wary Of Independent Media

Central Asia: Journalists Still Face Harassment, Threats

THE COMPLETE STORY: To view an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of media-related stories, click here.


For regular news and analysis on media issues throughout RFE/RL's broadcast area by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Media Matters."