Press freedom worldwide
is deteriorating, with 38 journalists murdered in the past six months and
increasing pressure on freedom of expression in many countries, according to
the annual half-year review of press freedom by the World Association of
presented on the eve of this week’s World Newspaper Congress.

The report paints a
distressing picture of attacks, imprisonment and murder around the globe, with
38 journalists killed since November 2005. In the past six
months, journalists worldwide have “once again been the victims of harassment,
physical violence and murder. A record number of journalists were arrested and
imprisoned in Nepal, Belarus, and Ethiopia”, WAN said. “Dozens more remain in prison in China, Cuba and Eritrea.
Media enterprises throughout the world have been destroyed or forced to close.”

WAN reports that journalists
are censoring themselves rather than risk their lives in Colombia and
the Philippines, two of the world’s most dangerous countries
for media. Seven journalists have been killed in the Philippines and
one in Colombia in the past six months.

The report says of our backyard:

Asia remains the region with the worst
press freedom record in the world. Ongoing
internal conflicts create a dangerous and sometimes deadly climate for
journalists. The governments in Burma, China and North Korea are among the most
repressive in the world and continuously harass journalists. In China,
freedom of expression continues to be severely limited by the authorities. More
than 30 journalists remain behind bars in the country.

New restrictions were also launched for television stations
in China: in
April the country’s top media body ordered television broadcasters to stop
using international news footage and called for greater “political and
propaganda discipline”. In Nepal, more
than 400 journalists were arrested in 2005 following the state of emergency
declared by King Gyanendra, a measure which had suspended all democratic rights
and freedoms in the country. The independent media in Nepal played
a key role in the people’s rebellion that led to the re-establishment of
democracy and freedom of expression.