The second annual Forum for Media Freedom Defenders in the Arab World opened in Amman on Saturday with wider participation by advocates of press freedom than last year amid calls for developing the media environment and ending violations against journalists.
The third media defenders’ forum, organised by the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) and the Norwegian embassy in Amman, drew 350 journalists, bloggers, legal experts, parliamentarians, judges and human rights activists to discuss the impact of the Arab Spring on the media and future challenges facing the sector.
"Gross and serious violations against journalists have not ended despite the Arab Spring. The countries of the (Arab Spring) revolutions, such as Egypt and Tunisia, are perhaps where the most violations and physical assaults against journalists are still being recorded, including torture, harassment and inhumane and humiliating treatment," said CDFJ president Nidal Mansour.
Mansour told the gathering that serious abuses had gone beyond just beatings, with assassination and murder of journalists taking place, and singled out the "volatile and most serious situation" in Syria where journalists were being targeted. He said both the regime and the armed groups should be held responsible for such atrocities, including killing and kidnapping of journalists.
Outlining the state of media freedom in the Arab world, Mansour said the killing of media people also continued in Iraq and Somalia.
President of the Al Mustaqbal Foundation, Bakhtiar Amin, urged civil society organisations to come to the defence of journalists, adding that the dismal record of public freedoms in the Arab region, particularly the freedom of expression, would feed such violations and place more pressures on media outlets. He called for developing the media environment in terms of legislation and protection of freedoms.