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IN THE NEWS - March 30, 2002: Committee to Protect Journalists 2001 Report - 2002-04-02

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

Every year, the Committee to Protect Journalists releases a report on the conditions faced by reporters around the world.

The report tells about killings and suspicious disappearances of news writers, photographers, radio and television broadcasters and publishers. The report also discusses actions by governments and other groups to repress the news media.

Two-Thousand-One was a dangerous year for reporters around the world. At least thirty-seven were killed because of what they reported or because they were working in dangerous situations. That is thirteen more deaths than the year before.

The report says conditions last year were very bad for reporters in Burma, Syria and Columbia. Three reporters were killed in Colombia. And the Committee to Protect Journalists says it still is investigating the suspicious deaths of five other reporters in Colombia.

The Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists is Ann Cooper. She says reporting about wars is dangerous. Eight reporters died last year covering the war in Afghanistan. But, she says reporters generally face the greatest risk when reporting about government wrongdoing in their own countries. She says members of the press may be murdered because of the information they report. That happened last year, she says, in Bangladesh, China, Yugoslavia and Thailand.

The report by the Committee to Protect Journalists also suggests increased efforts last year to repress the media around the world. For example, the Committee says there was a major rise in the number of reporters put in jail for doing their work. The report says one-hundred-eighteen reporters were jailed last year compared to eighty-one in Two-Thousand. China jailed thirty-five reporters, more than any other country for the third year.

The report also discusses the way the terrorist attacks on the United States affected reporting last year. It says some governments acted to interfere with or block reporting about the attacks. Other governments used national security concerns as an excuse to restrict the press after the attacks. The report notes the American State Department’s unsuccessful attempt to the stop V-O-A from broadcasting part of an interview with Taleban leader Mullah Omar.

The report always includes a list of those people it considers the ten worst enemies of the press. Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again is at the top of the list. He is followed by Charles Taylor, the president of Liberia, and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is based in New York. It was established in Nineteen-Eighty-One to support freedom of the press internationally. It works to defend the right of reporters to do their work without fear of punishment.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.