Media group gives bleak status report on press freedom day

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) – Governments and organisations around the world Wednesday made gestures of support for journalists on World Press Freedom Day, but at least one reporter was killed and dozens of leaders came under fierce criticism for infringing on free expression. The global media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF – Reporters Without Borders) in Paris displayed a rogues’ gallery of photographs of 37 world leaders it accused of abusing journalists’ rights.

RSF Secretary General Robert Menard denounced “acts of violence, imprisonments, assassinations” of journalists, saying 2005 saw the most killings of journalists in any year since 1995.

Iraq had the highest media death toll, he added, with 90 journalists killed there since the start of the war three years ago.

In the Philippines — ranked by RSF as the second-most dangerous country for journalists amid ongoing political instability — another media worker was killed Wednesday.

Police said freelancer Nicholas Cervantes was gunned down outside his home in a Manila suburb.
Among the leaders identified by RSF as “predators” of press freedom were King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Hu Jintao of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia.