National Press Club

National Press Club calls for halt to abuses of reporters

April 27, 2011 | By John Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

As World Press Freedom Day approaches next week, the National Press Club is drawing attention to the unacceptable frequency with which journalists in dozens of nations are imprisoned, abused, beaten or killed.

"The National Press Club deplores in the strongest possible terms the mistreatment of reporters wherever it may occur and calls for the release of every journalist who has been detained for the 'crime' of doing his or her job," said National Press Club President Mark Hamrick.

The National Press Club will be the principal site for the U.N.-sponsored World Press Freedom Day on May 3. The event is intended to advance press freedom and the unfettered flow of information.

Some abuses make headlines, but others occur with less notice.

The Taliban in Afghanistan has held captive for more than a year two French television reporters -- Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier -- and their three Afghan assistants.

And in Libya, a young American freelance reporter named Matthew Van Dyke has not been heard from since March 13. Van Dyke's case is one of some 80 attacks on the press in that country since unrest began there last month.

Not just in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, but in just about every region of the globe, these kinds of abuses are too common, and they must be condemned, Hamrick said. More than 800 journalists have been killed over the last two decades, mostly with impunity, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists -- including 16 so far this year.

"Being a reporter can be hazardous work," Hamrick said. "But in too many countries, journalists' jobs are deliberately being made more dangerous, as government officials and others have targeted reporters for reprisal."

The National Press Club (www.press.org) is the world's leading professional organization for journalists with more than 3,400 members worldwide representing every major news organization. More than 250,000 people visit the Club each year to attend more than 2,000 events. The Club was founded in 1908.