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IFJ Releases Press Freedom Report for South Asia
April 30, 2010The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in association with the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) will officially release the eighth annual report on press freedom in South Asia at a regional event hosted by UNESCO in the Maldives capital of Male on World Press Freedom Day, May 3.
The report, Battle for Democracy: Press Freedom in South Asia 2009-10, is the result of year-long monitoring of media rights across South Asia. It opens with an overview that depicts shared problems across all countries and proceeds with chapters on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This years report, prepared with the support of UNESCO, details the challenges that journalists and media personnel face when reporting on the diverse opinions aired in societies in transition. A basic premise of the report is the reality of transition, since all countries in the region, though distinct, could be described as transitional societies.
Targeted attacks on journalists have been most frequent in areas of active conflict, such as Pakistans border regions and Afghanistan. In parts of India, journalism is under constant threat from actors in insurgent violence, and also state agencies seeking to deny a legitimate voice to dissent.
Sri Lankas long civil war was declared over in May 2009. But conditions for local journalists and free speech have deteriorated as power-holders battle to control opinion and stamp out dissent.
In Nepal, the process of writing a legal framework for the countrys new republican order has foundered and there are increasing signs that journalists will be trapped in the crossfire
Bhutan and the Maldives, the two smallest countries in South Asia, meanwhile have provided evidence that their democratic transitions will have the active involvement of journalists, so that the right to free speech is allowed maximum amplitude.
Journalists working in extreme conditions in many parts of South Asia must be recognised and commended for their courage in pursuing a profession that serves the greater public good but which can put them at grave risk of personal danger, IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
While the dangers posed to journalists and free media come from both state and non-state actors, the IFJ calls on governing authorities across South Asia to fulfil their obligations, in accordance with national and international laws, to protect journalists and their rights, as a necessary condition for facilitating the social dialogue which serves a successful democracy.
The report is available at http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/pages/ifj-asia-pacific-reports
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