Russia: Covering Conflict
13 May 2008
Experience shows that freedom of speech and expression are among the greatest casualties of any conflict. Typically, national security is used to justify legal and practical fetters on these freedoms, while insurgent groups try to suppress information or target independent journalists. A culture of impunity for violence against the media is exacerbated during conflicts, often leading to selfcensorship. Combatants seek to prevent information about their human rights abuses reaching the general public. Political leaders frequently disseminate biased or manipulated information in order to mobilise public support for their conflict goals. In some cases the media, motivated by patriotism, publishes deliberately distorted information. Persistent misinformation is a powerful factor in entrenching feelings of mutual hatred between communities. This increases the obstacles which have to be overcome in peace processes and hinders conflict resolution.
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