KARACHI: Despite a significant drop in the number of journalists killed, the global freedom journalism crisis worsens in 2019, the International Press Institute (IPI) says.
In 2019, governments were inclined to increase online attacks to legally harass, open campaigns and pressure the free media and journalists to remain silent, IPI said.
Vienna-based IPI's global coverage of freedom journalism this year saw an increase in the misuse of new and existing laws to intimidate, harass, and imprison journalists.
At the same time, the use of rhetoric was seen to undermine journalism and undermine the credibility of freelance journalists.
"In 2019, the number of journalists killed will see a clear decline to the lowest level of 20 years, while the great challenge of immunity in this regard remains," said Barbara Traunifi, executive director of IPI.
"We welcome this development, but we fear it may be the result of authoritarian trends in many countries were breaking the law to harass and imprison critical journalists in order to silence the press," he said. However, alternative sources such as criticizing free media are used to protect political leaders from criticism.
This year, police raids and arrests of journalists increased day by day, the International Press Institute said.
The report states that the government has implemented new laws in the name of eliminating national security or 'fake news' and hate speeches and legislation has been enacted in Nigeria, Cambodia and Singapore in this regard.
Other countries have used pre-existing legal practices to harass media organizations and journalists.
According to IPI, politicians also resorted to social media to harass and discredit self-criticized journalists and media organizations.
On the other hand, US President Donald Trump continued to call the media an enemy of the public, and other populist and dictatorial leaders around the world adopted similar tactics to harm the media's watchdog role.
The report added that "the ruling party politicians in Pakistan have strongly criticized the newspaper on social media for publishing a report on the November 29 attack in London, after which the editor and chief of the English newspaper Dawn. The executive officer (CEO) was threatened with death.
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Legal crackdowns against the press increased in 2019, while the number of journalists killed was a sharp decline compared to previous years.
According to IPI's Death Watch, 47 journalists were killed this year worldwide, compared to 79 in 2018 and 82 in 2017.
Of the journalists killed this year, 30 were killed in targeted attacks due to their work in response to reports exposing corruption or criminal activity.
IPI said a reduction in the number of murders is welcome when exceptions to past killings continue to increase