Pakistan, Somalia world’s deadliest places for press

      Pakistan and Somalia are the deadliest places in the world for the press, with the highest numbers of journalists having been killed in these countries in 2009, a worldwide press freedom round-up has claimed. “ Afghanistan (149th) is sapped not only by Taliban violence and death threats, but also by unjustified arrests by the security forces. Despite having a dynamic news media, Pakistan (159th) is crippled by murders of journalists and the aggressiveness of the Taliban,” Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was quoted by the Daily Times, as saying. “Press freedom must be defended everywhere in the world with the same energy and the same insistence,” RSF Secretary-General Jean-François Julliard said. The organisation compiles the index annually on the basis of questionnaires filled by hundreds of journalists and media experts around the world. The report said Europe had long set an example of press freedom, but several European nations had fallen significantly in this year’s index. Although the first 13 places were still held by European countries, others such as France (43rd), Slovakia (44th) and Italy (49th) had fallen significantly. In so doing, they have given way to young democracies in Africa ( Mali , South Africa and Ghana ) and the western hemisphere ( Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago ). “Journalists are still physically threatened in Italy and Spain (44th), but also in the Balkans, especially Croatia (78th), where the owner and marketing director of the weekly Nacional were killed by a bomb on October 23 2008,” the RSF index said. The US climbed 20 places in the rankings to the 20th spot, in just one year. “But this sharp rise concerns only the state of press freedom within the United States . President Obama may have been awarded the Nobel peace prize, but his country is still fighting two wars. Despite a slight improvement, the attitude of the United States towards the media in Iraq and Afghanistan is worrying. Several journalists were injured or arrested by the US military. One, Ibrahim Jassam, is still being held in Iraq ,” the RSF report said.

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