North Korea, Syria, Iran among worst censors, journalists say

By 윤민식
  • Published : May 2, 2012 - 16:55
  • Updated : May 2, 2012 - 16:59

Ten countries in the world ruled by dictators have imposed the most drastic censorship by shutting out international media and cracking down on journalists at home, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a report released on Wednesday.

Of the 10, Syria, Iran and North Korea stand out for their vast restrictions on the flow of information and thus create "enormous implications for geopolitical and nuclear stability," the New York-based CPJ said in its first report since 2006, issued to coincide with World Press Freedom Day on Thursday.

At the top of the list is Eritrea, followed by order of importance by North Korea, Syria, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Belarus.

"The 10 most restricted countries employ a wide range of censorship techniques, from the sophisticated blocking of websites and satellite broadcasts by Iran to the oppressive regulatory systems of Saudi Arabia and Belarus," the report said.

Eritrea allows only state news media, which are controlled by the Ministry of Information, the CPJ said. Journalists have no editorial freedom and follow instructions to cover a story. It said those who send news abroad are thrown in prison and held for extended period of time without access to family or lawyers.

The CPJ said runners-up to the 2012 list were Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, China, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.

Syria and Iran have since last year intensified significantly censorship in response to popular uprisings, including barring international media and attacking their own domestic news outfits.

At least nine journalists have been killed while on duty in Syria since November and six others died in circumstances in which "government culpability is suspected," the CPJ said.

It said Iran has one of the world's toughest internet censorship regimes, using mass imprisonment of journalists to silence the opposition and quash critical news coverage.

"The censorship of the media existed far before the revolution, but it has increased since because (President Bashar) Assad wants to convey a particular picture to the outside world that the regime is fighting off terrorists who are causing the unrest," Eiad Shurbaji, a Syrian journalist who fled the country in January for fear of his life, told the CPJ.

"Another tenet of Syria's propaganda was that minorities would beat risk without the regime," Shurbaji said. "Media censorship played a huge role in keeping Assad in power."

The North Korean government controls the contents of the country's12 main newspapers, 20 magazines and broadcasters, the report said. The ruling elite has access to the World Wide Web, but the general public is limited to government information.

Some countries in the 2012 list were already in the 2006 list. They were North Korea, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Eritrea, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Syria and Belarus. (DPA)


<관련 한글 기사>

북한보다 통제 심한 나라가 있다고?

아프리카 대륙 북동부에 위치한 에리트레아가 최악의 언론검열 국가로 꼽혔으며 이 분야 수위를 차지했던 북한은 2위, 시리아와 이란이 그 다음으로 검열이 심한 국가로 지목됐다.

뉴욕에 본부를 둔 비영리 단체인 '언론인보호위원회'(CPJ)가 세계언론자유의 날 (5월3일)을 맞아 2일 발표한 보고서에 따르면 이들 4개국 외에 적도 기니, 우즈베키스탄, 버마(미얀마), 사우디 아라비아, 쿠바, 벨라루스가 10대 언론검열국 반열에 올랐다.

이들 국가는 해외 언론(인)의 입국을 차단하는가 하면 내부 언론에 대해  "독재 적인 통제"는 물론 각종 규제를 가하고 있는 것으로 지적됐다.

철권통치가 이뤄지고 있는 에리트레아의 경우 "외국 언론인들의 입국이 불허되고 있으며 모든 내부 언론이 정부에 의해 통제되고 있다"고 지적됐다. 이 나라 언론은 모두 국영이다.

북한과 시리아, 이란은 '핵 안정과 지정학적인 문제로 인해 정보에 상당한 규제를 가하고 있는 세 국가'로 지목됐다.

특히 2006년 최악의 검열국으로 꼽혔던 북한은 "여전히 지극히 비밀스러운 장소로 남아있다"고 보고서는 지적했다.

북한 정권은 내부 12개 신문과 20개 잡지 및 방송의 내용을 통제하고 있으며 통 치 엘리트는 월드 와이드 웹에 접근할 수 있지만 일반 대중은 정부 정보만 허용되고 있다고 보고서는 밝혔다.

북한은 다만 지난해 평양에 AP통신 지국을 허용하는 등 검열조치에 "약간의 균열"을 보여준 점이 인정됐다.

보고서는 "시리아와 이란에서는 정치적 불안과 맞물려 검열이 상당히 강화됐다"고 비난했다.