Vietnam on Media 'Risk List'

A watchdog group says Vietnam's downward trend in press freedom is among the worst in the world.

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vietnam-bloggers-trial-305 Security personnel stand outside the Ho Chi Minh City courthouse on Sept. 24, 2012 during the trial of three blogger-journalists accused of spreading 'anti-state propaganda.'

Vietnam is one of the top 10 countries in the world where press freedom suffered the most setbacks during 2012, a leading media advocacy group said this week, citing stepped-up imprisonment of journalists as a reason for the decline.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named the one-party communist state to a “Risk List” as part of its annual “Attacks on the Press” report released Thursday.

The list, which CPJ issued for the first time this year, is a measure of the most significant “downward trends” in press freedom, based on fatalities, imprisonments, restrictive legislation, state censorship, impunity in anti-press attacks, and journalists driven into exile.

Vietnam made the list because conditions worsened in 2012 as authorities ramped up efforts to stifle dissent by imprisoning journalists on anti-state charges, CPJ said.

Many of those detained have been charged or convicted of anti-state crimes related to their blog posts on politically sensitive topics, and authorities have targeted online journalism by enacting restrictive legislation, it said.

CPJ ranks Vietnam as the world’s sixth-worst jailer of journalists, with 14 imprisoned at the time of its annual count in December 2012, and separately as the sixth-worst nation for bloggers.

China remained Asia’s worst jailer of journalists, CPJ said, and ranked third in the world with 32 reporters behind bars—more than half of them ethnic Tibetans and Uyghurs targeted for covering ethnic minority issues.

CPJ also warned that Cambodia was moving tentatively toward measures curbing online freedom, and that in Burma, restrictive laws and legal structures remain in place despite a “historic shift” that has seen imprisoned journalists freed and pre-publication censorship ended.

Reported by Rachel Vandenbrink.


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