Reporters around the world face threats ranging from intimidation to murder for reporting on logging, pollution, global warming, and other environmental abuses. The problem is not new, but isgetting worse, according to Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF).
"When the journalists are exposing companies and local governments that's when they are in trouble" said Vincent Brossel, of the Asia desk of RSF.
While enviro-related threats to journalists amounted to "just a few cases a year" not too long ago, about 15 percent of the cases RSF now monitors are linked with environmental issues like logging, pollution, and climate change impacts.
In one case noted in a RSF report, a correspondent in Southeast Asia for several French news outlets, was investigating illegal logging in Sumatra last year. Cyril Payen and his crew were arrested last July by security guards of the PT Lontar Papirup Pulp and Papers company, part of the Indonesian paper jant Asia Pulp & Paper / Sinar Mas.
The company's head of security and local police tried to suppress video the crew had taken of trucks being loaded with timber. Of Sinar Mas, Payen told RSF, "They buy journalists or threaten them with lawsuits. Although the Indonesian media are free, they do not do enough reporting on the rampant deforestation that is taking place."
Uzbek journalist Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov was arrested last year, charged with drug trafficking charge in June 2008 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He had been reporting on the deterioration of the Aral Sea -- including the govenment's responsibilty for the ecological disaster.
Samoan reporter Cherelle Jackson fled Samoa for New Zealand three years ago after her office was set on fire. She had been reporting on a government-sponsored development project that was going forward despite a doubtful environmental impact assessment; two articles of the three-part series had been published when she felt forced to leave. Part of your job is to deal with the threat," she told Sharma. "So, I usually ignore the calls, but the burning down of my office is not easy to ignore."
Reporters who are detained or threatened are trying to cover logging in developing nations, while their governments are trying to get funding for climate change mitigation, under the UN's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) program.