More journalists jailed than ever

CPJ’s 1995 report surveys 101 countries

The bullet-ridden wall pictured on the cover is a detail from a photograph taken in Somalia by American photojournalist Dan Eldon of Reuters. Eldon, Associated Press photojournalist Hansi Krauss, and Reuter colleagues Hosea Maina and Anthony Macharia were murdered in July 1993 by a Somali crowd angered by the death of 50 countrymen in an air raid on Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid’s command post. Reuters/Dan Eldon

Independent Nigerian journalist Nosa Igiebor has been languishing in prison since his arrest in December 1995. He was jailed for his critical coverage of the country’s military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Though he was placed in solitary confinement, Igiebor was hardly alone. In fact, a record 182 journalists around the world were in jail at the end of 1995, all of them in retaliation for their reporting. That is one of the major findings of CPJ’s annual report Attacks on the Press in 1995: A Worldwide Survey.

The 300-page report, which was released March 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., documents in compelling detail hundreds of attempts to silence reporters and news organizations around the world last year.

Drawn from the research of CPJ’s in-house staff of regional media experts, the annual Attacks on the Press reports are widely recognized as the most comprehensive and authoritative source of information on press freedom violations internationally.

This latest report analyzes the state of press freedom in 101 countries and examines more than 700 individual cases of journalists who were physically attacked, imprisoned, threatened or censored in retaliation for their work.

Most of the journalists whose stories are chronicled in the survey are not foreign correspondents dispatched to distant wars, but local reporters working under corrupt and repressive governments.

“Many American journalists drop in on dangerous places like Bosnia or Rwanda, stay a few weeks and go home. For most of the people in whom CPJ is interested, the dangerous places are home,” writes prize-winning essayist Roger Rosenblatt in the preface.

Among the book’s major findings:
For the second consecutive year, Turkey, with 51 reporters and editors in jail, had the worst record of imprisoning journalists than any other country. “The new Turkish government should demonstrate its commitment to democracy by releasing our imprisoned colleagues and abolishing Article 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and Article 312 of the Penal Code, which are inherently incompatible with press freedom,” said CPJ Chair Kati Marton.

  • Other countries with large numbers of journalists in jail at the close of 1995 were Ethiopia (31), China (20) and Kuwait (18); Vietnam, Peru, Myanmar (Burma) and Nigeria each held eight journalists in jail.
  • 51 journalists were killed in the line of duty in 1995. Forty-five of the deaths were homicides; six were casualties in combat zones.
  • For the second consecutive year, Algeria was the most deadly country for journalists–24 were murdered in 1995 by rebel terrorists who have been waging a campaign of death against members of the media since May 1993.
  • CPJ has now confirmed 456 journalists were killed in the past decade (1986-1995) as a direct result of their profession. Most were murdered. The countries with the highest death tolls were Algeria, the former Yugoslavia, Colombia, Tajikistan and the Philippines.

    Attacks on the Press in 1995 shows how CPJ took action on behalf of hundreds of journalists last year. Through diplomatic channels, grassroots efforts and media campaigns, CPJ brought international attention to these cases and helped secure the release of prisoners.

  • In Cuba, dissident journalist Yndamiro Restano was released from prison last June, after a yearlong international protest campaign led by CPJ.
  • Walter Cronkite, CPJ’s honorary chairman, met with the prime minister of Turkey in September to express CPJ’s objections to charges filed against American reporter Aliza Marcus, a Reuters correspondent based in Istanbul, who faced up to three years in prison for her reports on Turkish counterinsurgency forays into Kurdish villages. Two months later, the charges against Marcus were dismissed.
  • David Rohde, a correspondent in Bosnia for the Christian Science Monitor, was captured and held for nearly two weeks by the Bosnian Serbs for pursuing his investigations of mass grave sites near Zvornik. He was freed following diplomatic efforts by the U.S. government and direct personal appeals by CPJ Chair Kati Marton to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.