December 26, 2014
- Territories controlled by Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria) — Islamic State’s Jihadi fighters impose a brutal news and information dictatorship in the regions they control in Iraq and Syria. Journalists are closely monitored and often hunted down, kidnapped and killed. The climate of terror has created “information black holes” such as the city of Mosul (400 km northwest of Baghdad), from which most journalists have fled for fear of reprisals. In the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, IS has imposed a set of 11 rules for journalists that include swearing allegiance to Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
- Eastern Libya — “We’ll cut off your fingers if you continue to write.” This is the kind of threat that journalists often get in eastern Libya. As the country plunges deeper and deeper into chaos, the war between rival militias disposes of inconvenient witnesses with complete impunity. Three journalists were gunned down on the street in the space of five months in 2014. The youngest was 18. Nine other journalists were kidnapped. No one keeps count any more of those detained or threatened. Carrying a camera or a press card takes a lot of courage.
- Balochistan (Pakistan) — Pakistan’s biggest and poorest province, Balochistan sees frequent violent clashes between the security forces and local armed groups. Journalists working in the province are caught between these two “Predators of Press Freedom.” As well as frequent Islamist and Taliban bombings or shootings, they are exposed to reprisals by Balochi separatists and to surveillance and arbitrary detention by the Pakistan military. The violence endemic to Balochistan since 2004 continues to be a daily reality for the region’s few remaining journalists.
- The Donetsk and Luhansk regions (eastern Ukraine) — Parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been a limbo since the start of the armed conflict in April 2014. Six journalists were killed from May to August, but the fighting now seems less intense, and hostage-taking and arbitrary arrest have become less systematic. Nonetheless, the many checkpoints and patrols by unidentified gunmen still make it dangerous for journalists to move about. Regarded with suspicion and pressured to support the belligerents’ cause, they are subjected to constant intimidation. The most exposed are local journalists, who are threatened, censored and liable to have their offices ransacked.
- Department of Antioquia (Colombia) — Reporting is a risky occupation in the northwestern department of Antioquia, especially for those covering corruption or organised crime. Criminal paramilitary groups sow terror, sometimes with the complicity of local officials. They often circulate hit-lists with the names of journalists earmarked for elimination. Reporters are threatened, attacked and murdered with almost complete impunity. One journalist, Luis Carlos Cervantes, was murdered on 12 August, just two weeks after his police escort had been withdrawn.
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