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Media on the frontlines

Caught in the crosshairs of conflict, what challenges do journalists working in the Middle East and North Africa face?

Last Modified: 11 Aug 2013 12:50
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This week, the Listening Post presents something a little different.

We feature a documentary that first aired on Al Jazeera Arabic by Palestinian Jordanian filmmaker Bashar Hamdan.

The documentary, called Targeting Journalism, caught our attention because of what it highlights about the dangers facing journalists in the Middle East.

In many parts of the world, journalism is a profession under fire. Nowhere has this been more true than in the Middle East in recent years.

Figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists show an increase in the deaths of reporters covering the region, with 30 journalists killed in 2012 in Syria alone.

The period between 1992 and 2012 saw the killings of 438 journalists in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iraq was the deadliest assignment. Many journalists were kidnapped, and have never been heard from again. Others were lucky to have escaped with their lives.

"Killing journalists is a war crime and a crime against humanity," says Bouttaher Boujalal, from the Arab Centre for International Humanitarian Law.

"The aim is to hide the truth by eliminating the witness. It’s worse than a war crime."

Journalists working in the region have had to work in an increasingly dangerous and hostile environment characterised by state despotism, foreign invasion, war, occupation and revolution.

It is an environment in which censorship, intimidation, abduction, and violence have been major obstacles to freedom of reporting and freedom of expression.

"Journalists don’t report the minor violations, things like information blockades and annoying phone calls .... These violations are difficult to prove. There are no major organisations that track these issues in the Arab world," says Nidal Mansour from the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists.

Boujalal says that many of those behind the killing, abduction and torture of journalists have not been punished.

"The Arab world has no laws that protect journalists. Even the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference don’t have any agreements that protect journalists," he says.

This week, Al Jazeera’s Yasir Khan highlights the stories of those who have been caught in the crosshairs in Iraq, Yemen and the occupied Palestinian territories; and the challenges faced by Arab journalists today.

 
Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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