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Journalism in troubled times in South Asia: IFJ

By Staff
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Kathmandu, May 3 (UNI) Journalists in South Asia have experienced a crackdown on their rights, an increase in intimidation and have simultaneously been at the vanguard of struggles for democracy and press freedom in the last one year, according to the International Federation Of Journalists.

''Dangerous and difficult are the two words which sum up the daily reality for journalists and media workers in South Asia,'' said Ms Jacqueline Park, Director, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Asia-Pacific.

The IFJ's fourth annual South Asia Press Freedom Report: Journalism in troubled times: The struggle for press freedom in South Asia 2005-2006, produced on behalf of the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) and supported by UNESCO, documents the major challenges to press freedom in South Asia and explains trends and specific incidents - both positive and negative.

A comprehensive list of cases of media freedom violations and attacks on journalists from May 2005 to April 2006 has also been compiled.

The report contains stories of courage and professionalism by journalists in Nepal at the forefront of the opposition to the royal coup, and its clampdown on press freedom and democratic rights.

India is the most democratic and free country in the region where journalists are free to write without fear and threat except journalists in Kashmir and the north east facing the ire of both militants and security forces.

Courageous Bangladeshi journalists have been exposing the corruption that pervades the country despite continuing horrific violence, the IFJ report said.

For the first time, the report includes reports from Bhutan and the Maldives - where democratic forces in these tiny nations are struggling for press freedom and challenging autocratic rule.

''Highlighting the press freedom situation in South Asia and bringing attention to the violence against journalists in these countries is vital to ensuring a move towards a more free and democratic press, where journalists are able to report without fear or favour,'' said Ms. Park.

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