Image: in the public domain.
2015 was another deadly year for journalists, with at least 109 journalists and media staff killed in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents, according to the annual report published by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The IFJ listing names the 109 journalists and media staff killed across 30 countries, together with three who met with accidental deaths. It marks a small drop from 2014 when 118 killings and 17 accidents were recorded.
Elsewhere, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) Secretary-General Christophe Deloire noted that the majority of journalists killed were deliberately targeted for their work:
“Two-thirds were killed in countries at peace, countries where there is no war, where journalists are deliberately targeted — and the numbers prove it. The majority aren’t journalists in the wrong place at the wrong time during a bombing raid; they’re journalists who are murdered to stop them from doing their job.”
In 2015, the killing of journalists in the Americas led the toll, with 27 dead. For the second year in a row, the Middle East came second, with 25 deaths. Asia Pacific ranked third, with 21 – a drop on last year due to the decrease in violence in Pakistan. Africa was in fourth place with 19 dead, followed by Europe with 16.
French journalists paid a disproportionately high price when terrorists gunned down media workers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In the United States, the killing by a disgruntled ex-employee of two former colleagues at US TV WDBJ in Virginia took place in front of a global TV audience during a live transmission.
IFJ President Jim Boumelha reiterated his call for the United Nations to enforce international laws protecting journalists. “Journalism is put daily to the sword in many regions of the world, where extremists, drug lords and reckless warring factions continue murdering journalists with impunity,” he said.
In the Middle East, the IFJ has recorded an escalation of violence targeting media professionals by extremists in Iraq and Yemen, where there was a spike in killings and kidnappings, mainly of local journalists covering their cities, communities and countries.
In Latin America, the killings are mostly at the hands of drug lords who operate across borders, particularly in Mexico, putting journalists who investigate drug trafficking in the region at greater risk.
In Asia Pacific, the IFJ has witnessed a spiralling climate of hostility toward media workers in the Philippines that has seen seven journalists killed across the country and makes Philippines the deadliest place in the region.
The IFJ says the momentum in recent years to promote greater media protection must lead to genuine steps to curb violence against media professionals.