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Case Studies - 13 Environmental Reporters Threatened, Jailed, Maimed, Missing Because Of Their Work

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-21-09 12:12 PM
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Case Studies - 13 Environmental Reporters Threatened, Jailed, Maimed, Missing Because Of Their Work
Guinean journalist Lai Bald has been threatened. Egyptian blogger Tamer Mabrouk has been sued. Russian journalist Grigory Pasko has just spent four years in prison. His Uzbek colleague, Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov, has just been given a 10-year jail sentence. Mikhail Beketov, another Russian journalist, has lost a leg and several fingers as a result of an assault. Bulgarian reporter Maria Nikolaeva was threatened with having acid thrown in her face. Filipino journalist Joey Estriber has been missing since 2006 What do these journalists and many others have in common? They are or were covering environmental issues in countries where it is dangerous to do so.

There is a lot at stake in the environment. The first step in protecting nature is to carry out a detailed survey of the state of the resources and the way they are used. On the basis of this analysis in which the press plays a significant role political decision-makers can then establish rules and norms for economic actors and the public. The gathering of information alone is threatening for many companies, organized crime groups, governments and the various kinds of intermediaries that profit from misuse of the environment. Environmental concerns complicate their plans. As a result, investigative journalists and environmental activists are seen as an unwanted menace and even as enemies to be physically eliminated.

In many countries especially, but not only, those that are not democracies journalists who specialize in the environment are on the front line of a new war. The violence to which they are subjected concerns us all. It reflects the new issues that have assumed an enormous political and geostrategic importance. The conflicts between journalists and polluters are too many and too varied to be listed. Sometimes a crisis can be sparked by no more than a journalist's arrival at a sensitive location where his presence is not wanted. In southern China, for example, foreign journalists have been chased out of villages where most of the world's discarded computers are stripped apart in an environmentally disastrous manner.

In other cases, it is the publication of a detailed press report, with names and facts, that sparks an act of physical aggression or coercion. This is what happened to Mikhail Beketov, who was beaten nearly to death by local government thugs who did not like his coverage of a plan to build a motorway through a Russian forest.

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