76 journalists killed in 2009: watchdog

PARIS, December 29, 2009 (AFP) – The number of journalists killed because of their work rose to 76 this year from 60 in 2008, the media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday. “The authorities in these countries have understood that by encouraging journalists to leave, they considerably reduced the pluralism of ideas and the level of criticism,” he said. “Wars and elections have been the main threats to journalists in 2009”, said Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary general of the watchdog group (Reporters sans frontieres – RSF).

“Violence committed against journalists pre- or post-election have been especially high in 2009 in countries with weak democracies.”

The year also saw an increase in the number of journalists kidnapped (33 compared witho 29 in 2008) and physically attacked or threatened (1,456 compared with 929) and more bloggers were censored (151 in 2009 against 59 in 2008).

Repression has increased on the Internet, as the number of countries affected by censorship nearly doubled from 37 in 2008 to 60 in 2009.

“Each time the Internet or new media (social networking websites, mobile telephones, etc.) play a major role in the circulation of infor