Nigeria attacked over press repression

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The Independent Online
EVERY two weeks a journalist gets killed, and every three days a journalist gets arrested, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It announced yesterday that 129 journalists were jailed in 24 countries around the world and 26 killed in 1997.

The report targets Nigeria as the worst offender, which is holding more journalists than any other African country, including prize-winning writer Christine Anyanwu. Although Turkey had released 40 journalists during the course of the year 29 were still being detained. While the imprisonment of journalists sounds abhorrent, a fate far worse has befallen 26 journalists who have been killed in the pursuit of their profession.

Unlike a soldier who may be equipped to deal with violent situations, a journalist's weapon is the pen, though for the 26 journalists it certainly wasn't mightier than the sword. "When journalists are murdered or brutalised, it is almost always by some government, some organisation, some criminal cartel, or some individual wanting to prevent the flow of embarrassing or incriminating information to the public," said Gene Roberts, chairman of the CPJ.

"If the assassins learned that when they killed journalists, the inevitable result was that they got more coverage rather than less, the killings would subside," he added.