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Northern Ireland: Amnesty condemns threats against journalists at Sunday World newspaper

Threats - including a death threat - have been made by the Ulster Defence Association

‘The police must get a grip on this problem before another journalist loses their life’ – Patrick Corrigan

Amnesty International has condemned threats – including a death threat - made against two journalists at the Northern Ireland edition of the Sunday World newspaper.

Amnesty has been made aware of two separate threats made by the Ulster Defence Association against one of the journalists, including a death threat reported to be planned in the coming days.

The threat of an “imminent” attack against a second journalist at the same newspaper is reportedly from “criminal elements”, though it is believed this may have originated with the same loyalist paramilitary group. Information about all three threats were passed to the journalists by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) within the last 24 hours. The PSNI has told the journalists that it is taking the threats seriously.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“Amnesty International condemns these latest threats against journalists in Northern Ireland, including a death threat. These threats are a despicable attempt to intimidate journalists from doing their jobs and constitute an attack on freedom of the press. We send our solidarity to both journalists.

“Journalists in Northern Ireland – particularly those investigating illegal paramilitary and criminal activity – are now operating in a climate of fear.

“Chilling threats against journalists are now being made on an almost daily basis. Yet, no one is being arrested, no one is being held to account. Emboldened by this apparent impunity, those responsible have stepped up their efforts to intimidate the media. The police must get a grip on this problem before another journalist loses their life.”

On Wednesday, a reporter from the Belfast Telegraph received a threat of attack by the South East Ulster Defence Association.

Last month, Sunday World journalist Patricia Devlin lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in relation to lack of an effective investigation by the PSNI into a threat to rape her newborn son.

Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was shot dead in Northern Ireland in September 2001 by a loyalist paramilitary group. No one has ever been convicted of his murder.

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