Seventy journalists and other media employees were killed world-wide because of their professional activities in 2008, with the conflict in Iraq continuing to be the most deadly assignment for journalists, the World Association of Newspapers said Wednesday.
Fourteen journalists were killed in Iraq last year, compared to 44 in 2007. The decrease is likely due to increased security and a lessening of sectarian violence. Nevertheless, journalists continue to face incredible danger in Iraq – targeted shootings, roadside bombs and kidnap-murders all contributed to the death toll in 2008.
The number of journalists killed in several other countries is on the rise — India and Pakistan were the second deadliest countries for journalists and other media employees in 2008, with seven killed in each. No journalists had died violently in India in 2007, and five had been murdered in Pakistan.
Six journalists were killed in the Philippines, and five journalists were killed in Mexico, where journalists are increasingly being targeted for their reporting on organised crime.
The 2008 death toll, released after investigation into all potential media murders, compares with 95 killed last year, 110 killed in 2006 , 58 killed in 2005, and 72 killed in 2004.
In addition to the deaths attributed to war and conflict, journalists in many countries are also being targeted and killed for investigating organised crime, drug trafficking, corruption and other crimes. “In the vast majority of cases, nobody is brought to justice for their murders,” said Timothy Balding, CEO of the Paris-based WAN.
Journalists and other media workers were killed in 23 countries and territories in 2008: Afghanistan (2); Bolivia (1); Brazil (1); Cambodia (1); Croatia (2); Democratic Republic of Congo (1); Dominican Republic (1); Georgia (3); Guatemala (1); Honduras (1); India (7); Iraq (14); Kenya (1): Mexico (5); Nepal (2); Pakistan (7); Palestinian Territories (1); Philippines (6); Russia (4); Somalia (2); Sri Lanka (2); Thailand (4); and Venezuela (1).
Nine journalists have already been killed in 2009, in Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Russia, Sri Lanka, Somalia (where two were killed) and Venezuela.
Several press freedom organisations track the number of journalists killed each year. The numbers vary based on the criteria used by different associations. WAN’s figures include all media workers killed in the line of duty or targeted because of their work. It also includes cases where the motive for the killings is unsure or where official investigations have not been completed.
The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom and the professional and business interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its membership includes 77 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 11 regional and world-wide press groups.