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Press freedom under serious threat from govts worldwide: IPI


Vienna: Governments across the world are increasingly clamping down on press freedom by enacting new laws, according to a global network of journalists.

Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) said in its latest report that as many as 55 journalists were killed since May last year.

In Bangladesh, journalists face up to life imprisonment for violating the country's new Digital Security Act, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

With 139 journalists in prison including IPI Executive Board member Kadri Gursel, Turkey remains the world's top jailer of journalists, the IPI said.

In Pakistan, where critical media is subject to vicious smear campaigns, the government has stopped state advertising in the influential daily Dawn and targeted individual journalists such as Cyril Almeida, who faces treason charges for his coverage of militancy, it said.

In the US, the Department of Justice is contemplating changes in the guidelines to make it easier for prosecutors to obtain journalists' records, while the US' criminal indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has raised concerns around broader implications for press freedom, the IPI said.

In the UK, journalists have opposed government's move to enact new legislation that will allow police to access their data, it said.

IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2019, said: "Press freedom globally is under intense and growing pressure, as illiberal-minded governments seek to shut down critical voices and, in many cases, deliberately erode the credibility of independent media".

"We are witnessing a dangerous combination of tried-and-true methods of attacking the press - including arbitrary jailings and physical attacks that end in impunity - as well as a new wave of rhetoric and smear campaigns to portray the media and journalism as an enemy of the people so as to undercut the press' watchdog role," she said.

While on the one hand governments are attempting to curtail press freedom, on the other journalists around the world are being killed with impunity, the IPI added.

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