Journalists Targeted For Their Work…

20 Jun

Al Jazeera English, which has recently won the Golden Nymph award for ‘Best 24 Hour News Programme’ at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, was commended for its reporting, especially that of Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent, for her bravery in reporting on the Occupied Territory. It is not an exaggeration that the news network, in its short span of existence, has produced some of the most incisive and contemporary groundbreaking news.

In one of its latest documentary, Shooting the Messenger, the film exposes the danger that journalists faced in war-torn conflicts from Zimbawe to the Occupied Territories. While reporters killed or injured as a result of cross-fire is regretful, this film tries to highlight the more sinister aspect of such conflicts – namely that journalists who are simply reporting on ground zero are targeted either by state or non-state actors. In Israel, the army, has also appeared to be targeting journalists in the Occupied Territories. B Teselm recently reported and condemned the death of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana’a, who was killed by a Flechette shell that is considered illegal in international law. The story of Al Jazeera camera man, Sami Al Haj, who was detained by the American government in Guantanamo Bay for 6 years and recently released without charge also reminds us of the complicity of human rights abuse perpetrated by governments.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 82 journalists have went into exile during the past year. This is double the ‘average that CPJ has recorded since it began compiling such data in 2001’. Most of them were from Iraq or Somalia who were assaulted, threatened with violence and death. These figures are likely to have show only the tip of the iceberg with many more cases going unreported.

Christiane Amanpour from CNN argues that targeting at journalists is an affront against free speech as it causes other other journalists to practise self-censorship. The result is a ‘whole society… the poorer, deprived of vital information and the ability to hold those in power to account.’

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