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When freedom of information is attacked


(Vatican Radio) Freedom of information is a cornerstone of any democracy. Yet almost half of the world’s population is still denied it. And when governments or individuals try to stamp out that freedom by force, very often journalists are the ones caught in the line of fire. In the past week alone, two Somali journalists lost their lives, a Brazilian journalist was shot dead in a studio and another in Bolivia was badly burned after being set on fire whilst on the air.
Reporters without Frontiers campaigns is an organisation that campaigns to defend freedom of information and fight censorship worldwide. Benoit Hervieu heads the organisation's Latin American Desk and spoke to Vatican Radio's Susy Hodges.
Listen to the extended interview with Benoit Hervieu: RealAudioMP3
Hervieu says in many countries when journalists report on issues like "organised crime or corruption," they run a real risk of being attacked. He goes on to point out that sometimes the muzzling of the press can be self imposed out of fear. "You have self-censorship in many countries where the press is traditionally weak," he says.
Hervieu says Brazil is one country where he believes the dangers faced by journalists "are worsening." He notes that many Brazilian journalists report on police action to stamp out "drug trafficking in the favelas" but says "if you talk about that, you are exposed to threats from the drug traffickers and also from the authorities."
But the most dangerous country by far for journalists is Somalia says Hervieu where 18 journalists have been killed this year alone. He explains that the reason for this high number can be directly attributed to the lack of a central government and the climate of impunity that reigns in Somalia.