Colombia was the most dangerous place to be a journalist last year while Russia's dealings with the media threatened objective reporting, an international press group said Thursday.
A total of 56 journalists died last year while carrying out their jobs across the world, according to the annual report by the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI).
Eleven of the 20 journalists killed in the Americas died in Colombia, which has now replaced Sierra Leone "as the most dangerous country in the world to practice journalism".
In Colombia "journalists are confronted with death threats, harassment, physical attacks, and assassination. The kidnapping of journalists has become a routine practice among both Marxist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries," the report said.
Meanwhile Russia was the most dangerous location for journalists working in Europe, according to the report, noting that six newsmen were killed in the country last year.
"The apparent failure of the government to properly investigate these murders has done little to help the media." In addition, President Vladimir Putin has "revealed ambiguous tendencies in his dealings with media".
IPI has put Russia on its watchlist of countries over "the apparent political harassment" of the country's biggest independent media company Media-Most.
Media-MOST and daughter company NTV have been subject to raids and investigations, which the station attributes to its vocal criticism of Putin.
And while the European Union may like to see itself as a democratic haven, IPI came down hard on legislation which hinders reporters and recent arrests.
According to the report, two journalists in Italy were sentenced to serve eight and ten months respectively in prison after charges of defamation.
"Such actions are in clear breach of internationally accepted standards which state that journalists should not be jailed for their reporting," the report said.
In Britain, IPI slammed the way the Official Secrets Act "prohibits the disclosure of a wide range of information".
"In addition many other measures are used to conceal information from the public eye, including confidentiality clauses and contempt of court laws." – VIENNA (AFP)
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