RSF says press freedom threatened by ‘cowardice’

PARIS, Feb 12, 2008 (AFP) – In a scorching annual report, Reporters Without Borders blamed Wednesday the “impotence, cowardice and duplicity” of some Western countries and top world bodies that it said threatened press freedom. “The spinelessness of some Western countries and major international bodies is harming press freedom,” said Robert Menard, head of the Paris-based watchdog group, which is also known by its French name Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).

“The lack of determination by democratic countries in defending the values they supposedly stand for is alarming,” Menard added in a statement.

Menard particularly targeted the UN’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which he claimed has “caved in to pressure from countries such as Iran and Uzbekistan.”

And he blamed the “softness” of the European Union toward dictators “who did not flinch at the threat of European sanctions.”

Available on the Internet (www.rsf.org), RSF’s 2008 study raises alarm bells on issues ranging from journalists’ safety in conflict zones and censorship of new media, to expected problems covering key elections in various countries this year.

It also includes press freedom surveys in every region of the world for the 2007 year