For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today warned that journalists and media personnel remain prime targets for political extremists, gangsters and terrorists as it announced that at least 94 journalists and media personnel killed in 2010 were victims of targeted killings, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents.Three other journalists lost their lives in accidents this year.
The IFJ list was issued just two days after police in Sweden and Denmark revealed they had foiled a potentially deadly bomb plot against Jyllens Posten, the Danish newspaper that in 2005 set off protests around the world when it published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed.
Elsewhere the IFJ list puts Pakistan top of the list of the most dangerous zones for journalists in 2010, ahead of Mexico, Honduras and Iraq.
“Nearly 100 journalists killed is a heavy loss which ought to stir the world governments into action to offer better protection to journalists,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “The sheer number of murders and conflict related incidents which claimed the lives of journalists and media personnel around the globe this year has brought into sharp focus the high risks associated with the practice of journalism today.”
The IFJ list of work related media killings is coordinated with the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and contains 94 journalists and media personnel who died during 2010, down from the 139 killings recorded in 2009. There were also three accidental deaths of journalists.
The IFJ says the majority were victims of violence connected to the insurgency war in Pakistan and the drug war in Mexico, as well as the political unrest in Honduras. In these countries and others, such as Somalia, The Philippines and Iraq, the rule of men of violence and the failure of governments to protect journalists are creating a climate of siege and despair.
“The threats to journalists are everywhere and once again the shadow of impunity falls across the world of journalism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Governments must act now to hunt down the killers and make journalism safe, not just for the people who work in the industry but for democracy itself.”
As of 31 December, the IFJ recorded the following information on killings of journalists and media staff in 2010:
Targeted killings and homicide incidents: 94
Accidental deaths: 3
Total Deaths: 97
The deadliest region, for the third year running, was Asia Pacific with 38 journalists and media personnel killed. Pakistan had the region’s highest death toll with 15 dead.
Every region was affected including Europe, where on Wednesday the head of the Danish Security Service said five suspects had been arrested over plans for a “Mumbai-style” attack on the Danish newspaper, referring to the 2008 assault by multiple gunmen around the Indian city that left 163 people dead.
Among countries with high numbers of media fatalities are:
The Philippines: 5
In 2009, The Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and Russia were the most dangerous countries in the world. The full IFJ report on journalists and media staff killed in 2010 will be published mid- January 2011.