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Report Says 37 Journalists Killed on Duty in 2001 - 2002-03-26


Last year proved to be a dangerous one for journalists around the world. In a new report, the Committee to Protect Journalists says 37 journalists were killed in the line of duty in 2001, up from 24 the year before.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says eight of the 37 journalists killed last year died covering the war in Afghanistan.

Three reporters were killed during a Taleban attack on a Northern Alliance convoy on November 11, while four others were executed by gunmen who dragged them from a convoy eight days later. The next week, in Mazar-e-Sharif, an eighth journalist was roused in the middle of the night and killed.

Also during 2001, three reporters were killed in Colombia and two each were killed in Algeria, the Philippines, Thailand, the United States and Yugoslavia.

The report says most of the journalists killed during 2001 were murdered in reprisal for reporting on sensitive topics in their home countries including official crime and corruption.

In addition to those who died during 2001, another 118 journalists were in prison in various countries at year's end, up from 81 in 2000. For the third straight year, China was the world leader in jailing journalists with a total of 35 behind bars.

All told, the Committee to Protect Journalists' report on press freedom for last year documents some 600 cases of media repression in 137 countries, including assassination, assault, imprisonment, harassment and censorship.

The committee's report highlighted three countries of special concern - Burma, Colombia and Syria - where it says journalists operate under increasingly dangerous conditions.

The report was also critical of Zimbabwe where the government has invoked national security concerns to justify seeking new restrictions on the press.

The report also singled out the U.S. State Department for its unsuccessful attempt to censor a Voice of America report in late September that included excerpts from an interview with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

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