Twenty-five journalists were slain around the world in 1988, seven fewer than in 1987, but other forms of violence and intimidation against those who gather the news increased this year, Freedom House said Friday in its annual survey of press freedom.
During the year, 225 journalists were arrested or detained in various countries and 24 expelled, Freedom House said.Fourteen were kidnapped or disappeared, 28 wounded, 90 beaten or otherwise assaulted, 43 were targets of death threats and 12 had their homes raided or destroyed, it said.
It said 40 newspapers or radio stations in 12 countries were closed and that nine were bombed, burned or destroyed. Also, more than 200 instances of lesser harassment occurred.
The anti-press actions occurred in 70 countries, compared to 57 countries the year before.
"The figures do not reflect other forms of official and unofficial editorial censorship, and diverse methods of economic and political pressuring of the mass media," said the survey report prepared by Leonard Sussman, a Freedom House senior scholar.
"The statistics are a clue, however, to those official actions which generate self-censorship by journalists," he said.
The world survey rated press conditions as "most free" in 57 countries, including most states of the Western alliance, and "least free" in 83, including the communist bloc and much of the Third World. Nineteen other countries were described as "intermediary" and included some of Central America and scattered Third World nations.
It said the United Kingdom, whose press is in the most-free category, was slipping by using its Official Secrets Act to try to block publication of some stories.
It said that such least-free nations as China, the Soviet Union and Hungary had improved by displaying more openness while remaining centrally controlled.
Freedom House describes itself as a non-partisan national organization that monitors political and civil rights and tries to strengthen free societies.