UNITED NATIONS - Media experts at press conference in New York called on the United Nations to make press freedom and the fight against impunity surrounding murders and violent attacks on journalists a priority in its post-2015 development agenda. “It’s been a sad year for press freedom,” said Rob Mahoney, Deputy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Citing an unprecedented number of journalists imprisoned or killed around the world in 2012 - 232 and 70, respectively. Mahoney made those remarks while presenting the latest edition of the CPJ’s report “Attacks on the Press”.

 Among its findings, the report stressed that attacks on journalists, coupled with restrictive legislation and State censorship, were jeopardizing independent reporting and even, in some countries, the basic human rights to self-expression and information. Joined by the Committee’s senior regional leaders - Mohamed Keita, Africa Advocacy Coordinator; Carlos Lauria, Americas Senior Programme Coordinator; and Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator - he stressed that all people stood to lose when journalist were silenced, as that disempowered citizens and stifled debate. Briefly outlining the report’s other findings, he said that challenges to press freedom included media blackouts and targeted attacks against journalists. Access was impeded to war zones around the world as well. The majority of those affected were freelancers or online journalists - a growing trend - who lacked the protection of major news outlets. Indeed, he said, “most of these are local journalists reporting local stories about human rights or corruption.” Stressing that the compilation of data and statistics was one of the most important contributions to improving press freedom, he noted that the 2013 edition of the report featured a new tool, known as the “Risk List”, which identified 10 places with significant downward trends during 2012, including high murder rates and entrenched impunity, in Pakistan, Somalia and Brazil; the use of restrictive laws in Ecuador, Turkey and the Russian Federation; and the imprisonment of large numbers of journalists in Ethiopia, Turkey, Vietnam, Iran and Syria.