Reporters Without Borders (RSF) commemmorated International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists yesterday by releasing a gallery of “press freedom predators” which they describe as various “presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, torture or murder journalists.”
RSF issued 35 mock “hunting permits” to name and shame each of these predators, detailing their tactics, preferred victims, and their country’s generally abysmmal ranking on the RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. Though the imagery is a bit confused (if the idea is to hunt these predators, hunting permits should be issued for the hunters, not the hunted), RSF’s gallery is a helpful reminder that in a great many places in the world, simply reporting facts or speaking truth to power involves taking life-threatening risks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government just arrested over a dozen journalists at one of the country’s last remaining independent news outlets, makes his debut appearance on RSF’s roll call of press freedom predators. Usual suspects such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un (RSF lists his preferred attack technique as “paranoid totalitarianism”) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin (technique: “nationalist authoritarianism”) get their due, but so do the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas (technique: “criminal barbarity”) and the Islamic State a.k.a ISIS (technique: “barbaric acts in religion’s name”).