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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

62 countries suffer Internet censorship in 2010 – RWB

No fewer than 62 countries across the global suffered internet censorship in the year just ended for 2010.

This is coming as 152 bloggers and netizens were arrested within the same period, according to the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) latest report.

Censorship has been defined as the counter-intelligence achieved via placing a ban or deletion of any information of value to the enemy, especially inspired by the government in power, thus a suppression of speech or removal of communicative material alleged to be objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor. That is, the use of state or group power to control freedom of expression, such as passing laws to prevent media from being published or propagated.

The RWB report made available to ITRealms Online also indicated that a total of 2877 were humiliated in one way or another in the last 12 months.

This RWB stated to include 57 journalists that were killed, which is 25 per cent fewer than in 2009; 51 journalists kidnapped, 535 journalists arrested, 1374 physically attacked or threatened, 504 media censored, 127 journalists fled their country, 152 bloggers and netizens arrested and 52 physically attacked.

Secretary-General, Reporters Without Borders, Jean-Francois Julliard noted that 57 journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2010, which is 25 per cent less the figure for 2009, when the total was 76.

“The number of journalists killed in war zones has fallen in recent years,” Julliard said, stressing that significantly, it is becoming more and more difficult to identify those responsible in cases in which journalists were killed by criminal gangs, armed groups, religious organizations or state agents.

“Fewer journalists were killed in war zones than in preceding years. Media workers are above all being murdered by criminals and traffickers of various kinds. Organized crime groups and militias are their leading killers worldwide. The challenge now is to rein in this phenomenon. The authorities of the countries concerned have a direct duty to combat the impunity surrounding these murders. If governments do not make every effort to punish the murderers of journalists, they become their accomplices,” Julliard said.

A distinguishing feature of 2010 was the major increase in kidnappings of journalists, noting that there were 29 cases in 2008, 33 in 2009 and 51 in 2010.

“Journalists are seen less and less as outside observers. Their neutrality and the nature of their work are no longer respected as abductions of journalists are becoming more and more frequent and are taking place in more countries.” Reporters Without Borders said.

The group pointed out that for the first time, no continent escaped this evil in 2010 as Journalists were turned into bargaining chips.

“Kidnappers take hostages in order to finance their criminal activities, make governments comply with their demands, and send a message to the public. Abduction provides them with a form of publicity. Here again, governments must do more to identify them and bring them to justice. Otherwise reporters – national or foreign – will no longer venture into certain regions and will abandon the local population to their sad fate,” RWB lamented.

Journalists, RWB reports were particularly exposed to this kind of risk in Afghanistan and Nigeria in 2010.

The case of French TV journalists Herveì GhesquieÌre and Steìphane Taponier and their three Afghan assistants,
held hostage in Afghanistan since 29 December 2009, is the longest abduction in the history of the French media since the end of the 1980s.

Reporters Without Borders pointed out that even the Internet is no longer refuge to many media practitioners who should have loved to carry out their duties without censorship.

This, they said, was manifested in the death last June of the young netizen Khaled Mohammed Said, who was arrested by two plain-clothes police officers in an Internet cafeì, taken outside and beaten to death in the street.

There were reports that his death was prompted by a video posted online that incriminated the police in a drug deal. Autopsy reports attributed his death to a drug overdose, but this was belied by photos of his body.

The number of arrests and physical attacks on netizens in 2010 was similar to previous years, said RWB.

While harassment of bloggers and censorship of the Internet have become commonplace, there are no longer any taboos about online filtering.

“Censorship is taking new forms as more aggressive online propaganda and increasingly frequent use of cyber-attacks as way to silence bothersome Internet users. Significantly, online censorship is no longer necessarily the work of repressive regimes. Democracies are now examining and adopting new laws that pose a threat to free speech on the Internet,” RWB said.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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