Christophe Deloire , Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders
Beirut - Arab Today
Syrian journalists who have sought refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey remain in danger despite having fled war and hostility in their homeland, a media rights watchdog said Monday.
Both local and foreign journalists are considered legitimate targets in Syria, where regime forces, rebels, jihadists and Kurds are fighting over a country ripped apart by five years of conflict.
Those who have escaped Syria face oppression from the authorities in their host countries as well as other types of "predator," said Reporters Without Borders.
"Hundreds of professional and non-professional journalists have fled the country because they were exposed to both targeted persecution and the conflict's extreme violence," said the watchdog known by its French acronym RSF.
"Many of them face constant difficulties and continue to fear for their safety in the countries in which they seek refuge," it said.
The RSF report was based on interviews with 24 Syrian journalists living in exile in neighbouring countries.
"They found themselves in different sets of circumstances than they had experienced at home, especially in terms of regulations and living and working conditions, and they faced threats coming both from inside and outside their host country," it said.
As well as those threats and occasionally fatal attacks, RSF said authorities had restricted journalists' rights to move freely, choose their place of residence or leave the country and return.
"Their rights to protection are compromised, and they don't have equal access to legal protection. They are subject to work exploitation and servitude. They can be arbitrarily arrested, detained or sent back to Syria," it said.
"An official and legal recognition of Syrian journalists and their journalistic work in these countries could spare them many of these violations and threats, as well as provide legal and administrative framework for their activity."
The Islamic State group has killed at least 27 journalists since 2013, with at least 11 others missing and feared dead, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
RSF says at least 51 professional and 144 non-professional journalists have been killed since the start of the conflict in 2011.
A further 50 are currently detained in government jails, held hostage by IS or other extremist armed groups, or have simply disappeared.