A new report from the International Press Institute (IPI) says that while fewer reporters were killed in 2005 it was still a bad year for freedom of the press.
Increasing numbers of journalists feel that they are being gagged
Sixty-five journalists were killed in 2005 -- 13 less than the previous year -- and freedom of the press was still under threat in many countries, according to the International Press Institute's (IPI) annual report, published Thursday in Vienna.
Iraq, where 23 journalists were killed last year, was still "the most murderous country for journalists to report from," the media watchdog said in its report, titled "Media Wars: Year Zero," which looked at conditions in 175 countries.
Nine journalists were found dead in the Philippines, three in Bangladesh and Haiti, and 27 in 18 other countries across Africa, Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, IPI added.
The institute, which was founded in New York in 1950 and is present in 120 countries, also emphasized restrictions on press freedoms around the world.
Governments are increasingly clamping down on journalists, report says
"In all the regions of the world, governments are intent on hindering the media's work," by using press laws, emergency decrees, false arrest and imprisonment, physical violence and intimidation, IPI said last year, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.
"In many countries, the institutions of government refuse to provide up-to-date information, ministers decline to be interviewed and individual journalists or media organizations are excluded from press conferences."
IPI director Johann Fritz pointed out a British draft legislation "prohibiting the 'glorification' of terrorism" following the July bombings in London and an EU discussion over the role of the media in "radicalizing" terrorism.
These steps "signaled a shift in the balance between liberty and security and shaped the political debate over the controversial cartoons of Mohammed published by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten," he wrote in his foreword to the latest report.
US and France not exempt
Fritz criticized China which "is embracing capitalism without introducing the requisite freedoms" and "American computer companies (who) helpfully censored their Internet software" in compliance with Beijing to establish themselves in the country.
"In 2005, more journalists were imprisoned in Nepal than in any other country," the report pointed out, also criticizing countries like the US and France, in which journalists were prosecuted for refusing to reveal their sources.
In Africa, the institute said freedom of the press was "being swiftly eroded" and legislation was used to hinder the work of journalists, in particular in Zimbabwe where the "government has used every means at its disposal to silence the media."
Suspects accused of murdering a journalist go on trial in Philipiines
"The situation for the mass media in Russia continues to be difficult," it also said, adding "in addition to the attacks on journalists, the media have engaged in a great deal of self-censorship, which was demonstrated by the coverage of the January social-benefit reform protests."
IPI however praised among others Chile, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama for getting rid of so-called 'desacato' or insult laws. The institute will hold its next annual congress in May in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.