2008 press freedom round-up: Reporters Without Borders Canada

In 2008 60 journalists were killed, 673 were arrested and and 929 were physically attacked or threatened, according to a release from Reporters Without Borders (RWB).

This compares to 86 deaths, 887 arrests and 1511 attacks or threats in 2007. While the number of deaths and arrests has gone down, RWB says this does not mean the press freedom situation has improved.

“The figures may be lower than last year’s but this should not mask the
fact that intimidation and censorship have become more widespread, including in the west, and the most authoritarian governments have been taking an even tougher line. The quantitative improvement in certain indicators is often due to journalists becoming disheartened and turning to a less dangerous trade or going into exile. We cannot say that 60 deaths, hundreds of arrests and systematic censorship offer grounds for optimism.”

The organization also reports that “predatory activity” is focusing more and more on the Internet. For example, Wei Wenhua was killed in China for filming a clash with demonstrators in the role of a “citizen journalist.” RWB says:

“Every year, repressive governments acquire new tools that allow them to monitor the Internet and track online data.”