New York, March 31, 2003The
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today released its annual survey,
Attacks on the Press in 2002,
during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Copies of the book are available through The Brookings Institution Press.
"Reporting on the Gulf War has raised public awareness about the risks
journalists face to bring us the news," said CPJ acting director Joel
Simon. "But as this book makes clear, there are many journalists in places
such as Russia, Colombia, and the West Bank who work under similarly perilous
conditions every day."
According to CPJ, the number of journalists behind bars rose sharply in
2002, while heightened awareness of journalist safety and a decline in
the number of global conflicts last year contributed to a decrease in
the number of journalists killed for their work.
Attacks on the Press in 2002 documents some 500 cases of media
repression in 120 countries, including assassination, assault, imprisonment,
censorship, and legal harassment. In documenting these attacks, CPJ's
report notes several trends:
For the second year in a row, the number of journalists in prison rose
sharply. There were 136 journalists in jail at the end of 2002, a 15 percent
increase from 2001 and a shocking 68 percent increase since the end of
2000, when only 81 journalists were imprisoned. China, already the world's
leading jailer of journalists for the fourth year in a row, arrested five
more, ending the year with a total of 39 journalists behind bars. In Eritrea,
18 journalists languish behind bars, and 16 journalists were incarcerated
Justice for Journalists
A total of 20 journalists were killed worldwide as a direct result of
their work in 2002, a sharp decrease from 2001 when 37 were killed. (When
Attacks went to press, CPJ had confirmed that 19 journalists had
been killed. We recently learned that a journalist who we had reported
missing in 2002 was found dead.) It is the lowest number of journalists
killed in the line of duty since CPJ began tracking the deaths in 1985.
Most of the journalists killed in 2002 were not covering conflicts but
were instead murdered in direct reprisal for their reporting on sensitive
topics, including official crime and corruption in countries such as Colombia,
the Philippines, Russia, and Pakistan.
Government officials invoked "national security" concerns to impose
new restrictions on the press and limit access to certain conflicts. In
the West Bank, journalists covering the Israeli military incursion there
were harassed, denied access to "closed military areas," and three journalists
were killed by Israeli gunfire. Russian authorities also cracked down
on the media during and after the October hostage crisis, when Chechens
rebels seized a Moscow theater. Authorities threatened journalists for
interviewing hostage-takers and for questioning the government's actions.
Although the number of journalists behind bars rose in 2002, there
were some positive trends in press freedom worldwide. In Mozambique, six
men were convicted in January 2003 of murdering investigative reporter
Carlos Cardoso following a fact-finding mission and special report by
CPJ. Three Palestinian journalists detained without charge during the
Israeli military's April 2002 offensive in the West Bank were released
after intensive lobbying by CPJ staff and board members. After CPJ traveled
to Vladivostok, Russia, to pressure authorities to free imprisoned journalist
Grigory Pasko, he was released early this year before completing his full
By publicizing individual attacks, CPJ uses journalism to defend the media,
and to help ensure that they can report the news without fear of reprisal.
According to CPJ research, local journalists are most often threatened
for doing their work. As The New York Times' Serge Schmemann writes
in his preface to Attacks on the Press in 2002, "Many of them are
people who did not choose risky assignments but whose countries or beats
were caught up in conflict, tyranny, or lawlessness. Telling the real
story became dangerous, but they told it anyway because they believed
they had to do so."