Governments, insurgents, terrorists, corrupt officials, criminals, gangsters and fundamentalists of all religions are all taking out their frustrations on a free press in south Asia - and journalists are paying for it with their lives, a new report has found.
The first annual report on press freedom in south Asia has been coordinated by the International Federation of Journalists, the global voice for journalists. The report, covering Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka records a worrying trend of increasing violence against journalists, including the deaths of at least 15 journalists and other media workers since the beginning of 2002.
The report also monitors the commitment of governments across the region and their actions on press freedom, saying:
"Ruthless criminality and political indifference often mean that little can be done to stop determined killers. But governments must be challenged. They must respect democratic rights, investigate and follow up every attack and be held accountable when there is official complacency, negligence or, as in some cases, official complicity in attacks on media."
The report shows that journalism in South Asia continues to be a risky affair, and that those journalists operating in regions of civil, political unrest and ethnic violence do so under enormous pressure on both their safety and their ability to do their job freely.
Journalists need support not only to do their jobs in safety but they also need professional training and proper working conditions.
"Clearly, though, there is a long way to go to achieve the conditions necessary for democratic and pluralistic media across the region," the report concludes.
"And this is only likely to flourish through the collective actions of journalists through strong, independent media associations that demand respect for independent journalism and give journalists a voice in negotiating proper training for journalists, a fairer legal environment and acceptable working conditions.
"Instances of harassment, intimidation -- and worse -- against journalists can no longer go improperly investigated as they so often have in the past."
Further information, Jacqueline Park, Director IFJ-Asia +61 411 721 692 or Laxmi Murthy in New Delhi on 9818383669
For the full report visit the IFJ on the web at www.ifj.org or in Asia www.ifj-asia.org.