Journalists across Asia faced extraordinary pressures in 2001. Risks included reporting on war and insurgency, covering crime and corruption, or simply expressing a dissenting view in an authoritarian state.
CPJ's two most striking indices of press freedom are the annual toll of journalists killed around the world and our list of journalists imprisoned at the end of the calendar year. Asian countries registered disproportionately high on both counts--with more journalists killed in Afghanistan than in any other country, and China once again the world's leading jailer of journalists. Nepal, shockingly, took second place on the imprisoned list, with 17 journalists detained as of December 31, 2001, due to a sweeping crackdown on the Maoist insurgency that had severe implications for the press.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned over your administration's decision to impose draconian regulations governing all media coverage of the ethnic tensions there. On June 28, the Governor General issued an amendment to the Emergency Powers Act of 1999 (see below) that threatens journalists who violate state--imposed reporting restrictions with up to two years imprisonment or a fine of up to SI$5,000 (US$1,050), or both. The regulations prohibit any reporting that "may incite violence," "is likely to cause racial disharmony," or that is "likely to be prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state." There are also provisions in the amendment that criminalize the possession of an official document by anyone "who has no right to retain it."
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Blog: Bob Dietz