By The International Federation of Journalists
New York City – The year 2013 was a deadly year for journalists. About 108 were killed in the line of duty last year, with the Syria as having the most number of fatalities (15), followed by Iraq (13), Pakistan, Philippines, India (10 each country), Somalia (7), and Egypt (6).
Women journalists have also been noted to face the higher risks of being killed or harassed while on assignment.
Late last year, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a desperate appeal for governments across the world to end impunity for violence against journalists and media staff.
The IFJ noted that women journalists, were particularly vulnerable, “being attacked, harassed, sexually assaulted, raped and even killed for being just that – female journalists.”
The IFJ press statement said that the journalists lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other cross fire incidents around the world. The 23rd annual IFJ list shows that the deadliest regions for journalists were Asia Pacific, with 29% of the killings and the Middle East and Arab World with 27%. The number of killings is slightly down by 10% on last year’s.
The ongoing turmoil in Syria means it tops the list of the world’s most dangerous countries for media in 2013, while violence and corruption in the Philippines, insurgents in Pakistan, and terrorism and organised crime in Iraq and India have accounted for high fatalities of journalists in these countries.
The IFJ has stressed that while the numbers of killings are down, levels of violence are still unacceptably high and there is an urgent need for governments to protect and enforce journalists’ basic right to life. It has urged countries such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Iraq to take drastic action to stem the bloodbath in media.
The Federation has welcomed the UN Resolution establishing an International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 18.
The Resolution “condemns unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extra-judicial killings, enfoappearances and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations”. It further stresses that” impunity for attacks against journalists constitutes the main challenge to the strengthening of the protection of journalists.”
“Following the United Nations’ resolution establishing November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity, we urge countries across the world to take immediate action to protect the safety and freedom of journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
“We give our full support to this new initiative which we believe will contribute to fighting impunity across the globe provided that governments are willing to adopt a zero tolerance approach to violence targeting journalists.”
The IFJ figures also show that violence against women journalists is on the increase. Six women journalists lost their lives this year, while many others were the victims of sexual abuse, intimidation and discrimination.
According to the IFJ statistics, many journalists were deliberately targeted because of their work and with the clear intention to silence them, a finding that conveys the critical need for countries to improve the protection and safety of journalists and punish the perpetrators of violence against media.
In response to this need, in October 2013, the IFJ launched its campaign to End Impunity for violence against journalists. This ongoing campaign, which kicked off with a focus on Pakistan, Iraq and Russia, calls on the governments of the countries with the highest death tolls of journalists to investigate these killings and bring their perpetrators to justice.
According to reports sent to the IFJ, six women journalists were killed in 2013 in the course of their profession:
In February, Rebecca Davidson, the deputy head of programming at the Dubai-based Arabian Radio Network was killed in a boat collision while on assignment in the Seychelles. She died when the vessel she was aboard struck another boat in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
In March, Rahmo Abdulkadir, a female journalist working for Radio Abudwaq in central Somalia was shot at least five times in north Mogadishu, killing her instantly. She was 28 and the NUSOJ deems the killing to be part of serialized killings against journalists, as well as recent Mogadishu killings of women participating in society.
Baiu Lu, from the Urumqi Evening News died on April 18, in an accident while conducting interviews on a construction site in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China.
Habiba Ahmet Abd Elaziz from UAE-based Xpress newspaper, was killed on the 14th of August, together with four other journalists, reporting in Egypt.
French reporter Ghislaine Dupont, working for the Radio France International (RFI) was abducted and shot dead, together with a male colleague, in the Malian northern city of Kidal.
Yarra Abbas, television correspondent for Al-Ikhbariyah TV was killed on May 27, while covering clashes near the border with Lebanon. (IFJ)