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NEWS - Corruption Stories Spelled D

Subject: NEWS - Corruption Stories Spelled Death for Reporters

Corruption Stories Spelled Death for Reporters


               PARIS, May 3 (Reuters) - Nineteen journalists were
               killed in the line of work in 1998, almost all for
               investigating corruption, an international press
               watchdog group reported on Monday. 

               Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in its
               annual report that fewer journalists died in the
               course of their work this year than in 1997, when
               26 died. Fifty one were killed in 1995, of which 22
               were in Algeria, and 103 died in 1994. 

               The group said the lower death count in 1998
               masked a worrying reality: "These 19 journalists
               were not killed, as was often the case in the past,
               while covering armed conflicts. 

               "In 1998, almost all the journalists killed were
               assassinated after having revealed or probed
               corruption cases or links between the authorities
               and mafia-type groups," it said. 

               This happened in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia,
               Mexico, the Philippines, Russia and Thailand, it

               "In this kind of case, the killers are rarely identified
               and even more rarely punished," the report said. 

               Violence against the press was not the monopoly of
               the authorities. Although in Turkey, police
               accounted for 80 percent of violent acts committed
               against the press, there had been a "privatisation"
               of violence in Russia, it said. 

               Instead of Russian centralised power, "there are
               economic mafia groups made up financial
               magnates, arms dealers and ambitious and
               unscrupulous politicians." 

               In South Asia, journalists could fall victim to political
               parties, separatist or terrorist groups. 

               The number of journalists in prison, around 100, has
               barely changed. The main countries responsible
               continue to be China, Ethiopia, Syria, Myanmar and
               Turkey. Overall, 487 journalists were arrested last

               year, while 697 were threatened or assaulted. 

               Governments' grip on broadcast media -- which
               have the greatest impact on public opinion --
               continued, with more than 75 countries keeping
               their television monopoly and 45 controlling private
               access to the Internet. 

               On the positive side, press liberty returned to
               Indonesia following President Suharto's resignation
               after 32 years in power. Not a single journalist was
               in prison there on January 1, 1999, around 100
               newspapers had been created, and new laws are to
               be passed to guarantee freedom of the press.