Today is World Press Freedom Day and with it comes the new Reporters Without Borders’ annual list of 40 freedom predators, the BBC reported.
Reporters Without Borders is a French-registered non-profit organization that defends and supports journalists and fights press censorship.
The new predators’ list comprises “politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The Society for Professional Journalists noted on their blog that the predators announcement list read somewhat “like an Academy Awards” presentation ceremony.
While the brother of the president of Sri Lanka, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, is listed as “condoning attacks on journalists,” the BBC reported that the Sri Lanka’s president pardoned a journalist today from a 20-year prison sentence.
The Hindustan Times reports that Tamil journalist JS Tissainayagam was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Tissainayagam was arrested under a prevention of terrorism act after being “accused of receiving funds from the Tamil Tigers and inciting communal feelings through his writings in 2006 and 2007,” The Hindustan Times stated.
Reporters Without Borders noted that many of this year’s predators were on last year’s list as well. But, some previous predators have been removed from this year’s list, including Somalian intelligence chief Mohamed Warsama Darwish, Nigerian’s State Security Service and Islamist groups in Iraq.
Specifically, Reporters Without Borders called out Yemeni President Ali Abdulah Saleh, Philippines’ private militias, Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov as additions to the list.
The blog Firedoglake wanted to know why the United States Dept. of Justice wasn’t included on the list, noting the recent subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen for his sources in a book critical of the Central Intelligence Agency.
In 2009, the United States “climbed 16 places in the rankings, from 36th to 20th” for its degree of press freedom, Reporters Without Borders noted.
The National’s Mixed Media blogged that this World Press Freedom Day “bears particular pertinence after the highest monthly death toll for journalists in five years.” The National is a Middle-Eastern English newspaper launched by the Abu Dhabi Media Company.
The Newspaper Publishers’ Association wrote that “it was the bloodiest April for the news media in five years.” The NPA wrote that most of the killings this year have been in Honduras, Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, and Nigeria.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports 808 journalists have been killed since 1992. Mexico, where 62 journalists have been killed in the past decade, is listed as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, the BBC reported.
The United Nation News Centre reported that “top United Nations officials have called for promoting the universal right to publicly-held information as well as ensuring the safety of all those who work in the media.”
The complete list of predators is available here.