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Number of journalists killed worldwide reaches record high in 2009

[JURIST] The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [advocacy website] issued its annual report [text, PDF; materials] on Tuesday confirming the work-related killings of more than 70 journalists worldwide during 2009, the highest in the 30-year history of the CPJ. Of the 71 confirmed killings identified in the report, 51 are believed [NYT report] to be murders, with several others still under investigation. The CPJ also found that the number of journalists currently in prison is near the highest point this decade. The report states:

At a time when technology is changing the way people around the world gather and receive information, when international news organization are cutting back and closing bureaus, freelancers, local reporters, and online journalists are more important than ever. The press critic A.J. Liebling once quipped, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." In today's world, that's just about everyone. While the rights of each journalist are protected by international law, few have large media organizations that can stand behind them. Instead, their safety and security depends on the ability of press freedom organizations to generate public attention and mobilize action.

The report also claims an alarming number of countries have taken action to limit or control journalists' ability to use the Internet as a means to present opposing viewpoints.

Incidents involving the death of journalists in the Philippines and Russia have drawn a significant amount of international attention over the last year. Last week, the Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) [official website] charged 197 people with murder [JURIST report] in connection with the November massacre in the semi-autonomous Maguindanao province that left 57 dead, including 31 journalists. Last month, a Russian journalist died [JURIST report] in a Siberian hospital from injuries he received during a police beating. In October, the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] issued a report [JURIST report] stating that Russia is failing to protect important human rights, including freedoms of speech and of the press.

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