Deadliest year for journalists

2012-12-19 22:18
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP) (SAID KHATIB)

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Johannesburg - It has been the deadliest year for journalists since Reporters Without Borders began producing its annual round-up 17 years ago, the organisation said on Wednesday.

It said 88 journalists had been killed so far this year in connection with their work, along with 47 citizen journalists and six media assistant colleagues.

There had also been frequent killings of internet users, known as netizens, in connection with the collection and dissemination of news and information.

The figure marked a rise of 33% compared to last year.

"The reason for the unprecedented number of journalists killed in 2012 is mainly the war in Syria, the chaos in Somalia and Taliban violence in Pakistan," secretary-general Christophe Deloire said on Wednesday.

"The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violations of human rights, in particular, the right to freedom of information, encourages the continuation of these violations."

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement following the release of its Annual Overview that at least 17 journalists, 44 citizen-journalists and four media assistants had been killed in Syria.

"News providers were unwanted witnesses of the atrocities being committed by President Bashar Assad's regime, which had its back to the wall," it said.

"Journalists have also been targeted by armed opposition groups, which are increasingly intolerant of criticism and ready to brand journalists as spies if they fail to reflect their views."

Somalia was the country with the most journalists killed - 18, double the number killed in that country in 2009.

"The second half of September was particularly bloody with seven journalists killed, two of them in the space of 24 hours.

"One was gunned down, the other beheaded. Most are the victims of targeted murders or bombings. Those responsible for this violence are either armed militias such as Al-Shebaab or local government officials who want to silence news outlets."

Deadliest country for journalists

In Pakistan, a journalist had been killed every month, Reporters Without Borders said.

"Ten journalists were killed in Pakistan for the second year running - almost one a month since February 2010.

"It was the world’s deadliest country for the media from 2009 to 2011, and Balochistan [a province in Pakistan] continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous regions."

In Mexico, six journalists were killed, having been targeted by organised crime.

In Brazil, drug traffickers operating across the Paraguayan border seemed to have had a direct hand in the deaths of two of the five journalists murdered in connection with their work in 2012. Both had covered drug cases.

There were more journalists in prison than ever before. It said 193 were in jail in connection with their work. Turkey, with 70, had the most.

China was keeping 30 journalists behind bars, it added.

At least 21 journalists and 18 netizens were in Syrian prisons.

Eritrea, dubbed "Africa's biggest prison for journalists", had been cut off from the rest of the world since the major roundups in September 2001 and the closure of all of the privately-owned media.

"None of the 28 journalists currently in prison had the right to a trial or access to a lawyer and few have ever been allowed a family visit. Prison conditions are appalling and include solitary confinement, underground cells and torture."

Reporters Without Borders said 26 journalists were in Iranian prisons.

Sub-Saharan Africa saw 21 journalists killed in the line of duty.

Read more on:    reporters without borders  |  media

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