Mediafile

Southasia a safer place for journalists?

By Chhetria Patrakar

26 December 2013

Photo: UNESCO

Photo: UNESCO

Southasia seems to be a much safer place for journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), only three journalists were jailed in the region in 2013 out of 211 worldwide. As of December 23 2013, Turkey remains the world’s leading jailer of journalists and has imprisoned 40 this year alone. Indeed, more than half of the total number of journalists incarcerated in 2013 were incarcerated in Turkey (40), Iran (35) and China (32). Looking closely at South Asia, authorities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have reportedly jailed only one journalist each. 
 
However, imprisonment is not the only barometer to measure the difficult conditions that journalists have to work under. The number of journalists killed around the world while doing their job in the year 2013 is recorded as 59, down from 74 last year. Pakistan, which is ranked third on the list for journalists killed, saw a decrease in such killings, from seven in 2012 to five in 2013, according to another CPJ report. 
 
Although CPJ records only three journalists killed in India in the year 2013, The Hoot’s Free Speech Hub tracked the deaths of 8 journalists that were on duty. The list could have been worse – brutal acid attacks, attempts to burn alive and other kinds of threats to journalists were also recorded. Among the eight journalists killed, The Hoot claims two were killed by suspected Maoists and two died during the Muzaffarnagar riots.
 
Ahmed Rajib Haider was the single journalist killed in Bangladesh in this year. He was attacked when he blogged about Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist groups, and had covered nationwide mass demonstrations in which protesters called for the death penalty for leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party who were on trial for war crimes. 
 
In Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, countries known to be challenging environments for the press to work in, the CPJ has not reported any confirmed killings of journalists since 2009 and 2011 respectively. 
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