Syrian ranked 174th in the world in terms of press freedom as journalists continue to be murdered and subject to tough restrictions, the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said.
In its 2019 Press Freedom Index, the watchdog said that the fear machine is working at its full potential, severely undermining the practice of journalism in calm conditions.
The report, which annually assesses the state of the press in 180 countries, indicated that the risk of arrest, abduction or death makes journalism extremely dangerous and difficult in Syria.
According to the report, at least 10 journalists were killed in Syria in 2018, of whom three were the victims of murders in unclear circumstances that were never solved. The updating of civil registers have confirmed that five journalists also died in recent years while held in Bashar al-Assad’s jails.
The watchdog group, also known internationally as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), noted that since the start of 2018, dozens of journalists have had to flee the advance of government troops, especially into the southwestern Ghouta and Deraa regions, because they feared arrest.
The Assad regime gave itself a new tool for cracking down on the Internet in March 2018 by creating special cyber-crime courts, the NGO group added.
The Syrian Centre for Journalistic Freedoms of the Syrian Journalists Association said that it had recorded no fewer than 95 violations against media workers and journalists across Syria in 2018. It noted that 15 journalists were killed across Syria in that year.
The figure brought to 1,195 the number of violations against journalists and media workers since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in mid-March 2011, the Centre said, noting that 445 journalists and media workers were killed in the period between March 2011 and December 2018.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) classified Syria as the world’s second dangerous country for journalists in 2018 in its annual report published in December 18, 2018.
At least 80 media workers were killed in 2018, while 348 others were still in custody and 60 others held as hostages. These staggering figures reflected the large-scale violence against media workers in Syria.
The World Press Freedom Index has been published annually since 2002. It assesses the state of press freedom in 180 countries in terms of pluralism, media independence, and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)