It's World Press Freedom Day, and the journalist-freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders marked the day by releasing a list of 39 "predators" of information freedom. These are "presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers."
The group added five new names this year and removed four entities in areas where the situation for reporters has improved.
The newest bad guys are plotted on this map. (Roll over the image to reveal the hotspots. Red dots indicate new predators; green dots are predators who have been removed this year.)
The full report on press-freedom-oppressors is here, but there are a few interesting trends from the recently added list. The newest predators seem to be concentrated in the Middle East and Asia, and some hail from nations whose human rights abuses we hear very little about (Maldives?).
Several of the newest oppressors also appear to have arisen as a result of regime change and upheaval.
In Syria, the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is thought to be keeping several foreign journalists captive, is no longer the only force suppressing journalism in the embattled country. Jabhat Al-Nusra, an Islamist opposition group that gained strength in rebel-held areas throughout 2012, is accused of intimidating news providers while they are gathering information, threatening to kill both Syrian and foreign journalists, and kidnapping foreign journalists.
And Egypt's recently-elected President Mohamed Morsi and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood party made the list for hand-picking friendly editors for government media outlets, attacking journalists who covered clashes between the Brotherhood and opposition groups, and -- perhaps most famously -- for investigating Bassem Youssef, Egypt's "Jon Stewart."
"The television presenter Bassem Youssef is a thorn in [the Brotherhood's] side, and he is not the only one," Reporters Without Borders wrote.
In 2006, the United Nations adopted a resolution that would encourage member states to penalize entities that kidnap, threaten, or murder journalists, but the measure is rarely enforced in the countries that are home to most of these "predators."
"States often fail to do what they are supposed to do," the organization wrote, "either because they lack the political will to punish abuses of this kind, or because their judicial system is weak or non-existent, or because it is the authorities themselves who are responsible for the abuses."
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