Journalism's Foes  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   December 1997

Journalism's Foes   

By Unknown

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Following are the 10 worst enemies of the press as rated by the Committee to Protect Journalists:

1. Algeria's Antar Zouabri. As head of the militant Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Zouabri ensures that Algeria remains the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, with 59 killed since the civil conflict began in 1992.

2. China's President Jiang Zemin. Jiang wages a continuing battle against all independent reporting, threatening to close down one-third of all publications as part of a crackdown on media that fail to toe the Communist Party line.

3. Cuba's President Fidel Castro. Castro continues his relentless harassment of independent journalists. Security police also routinely detain journalists, steal their effects and money, and regularly threaten reprisal.

4. Nigeria's General Sani Abacha. Abacha's vicious tactics have decimated the country's once-thriving independent press, driving scores of journalists into exile. In 1996 there was a rash of detentions of journalists and the establishment of a press court to prosecute journalists.

5. Turkey's Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. Sweeping provisions of the anti-terror law and the penal code permit the arrest and prosecution of journalists for critical reporting on the government's conflict with Kurdish insurgents. In early 1997, 78 journalists were in jail, more than in any other country.

6. Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko. The press is bullied with Soviet-era tactics, such as shutting down independent media and publicly denouncing journalists. In March, prior censorship was instituted and information "deemed harmful to the interests of Belarus" blocked.

7. Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Meles inflicts harassment, censorship, arrest and months-long detention on journalists. At the end of January, and for the fourth consecutive year, more journalists were in prison in Ethiopia than in any other African country.

8. Indonesia's President Suharto. Suharto stifles the independent press, banning and censoring both foreign and local publications, and permits severe beatings of journalists covering anti-government political demonstrations.

9. Burma's Senior General Than Shwe. A barrage of laws restricts the flow of information. Writing or saying anything to "disrupt and deteriorate the stability of the state" brings a 20-year sentence; owning or using a fax machine, 15 years.

10. Albania's President Sali Berisha. The secret police raided, then torched, the newsroom of the main opposition daily, Koha Jone. Beaten and intimidated journalists were forced to flee the country, while attacks on journalists and seizure of critical publications continue.



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