Seven Pakistani scribes killed in 2011; 29 in fivc years

December 21st, 2011 - 3:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 21 (IANS) Seven Pakistani scribes were among at least 43 journalists who died in conflicts or were murdered this year worldwide, a media rights group said. In the past five years, 29 journalists were killed in Pakistan, Xinhua quoted a statement of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as saying.

Political conflict and unrest proved deadly for journalists in 2011, said the CPJ. The governments failed to prosecute those who targeted reporters for their work, it said Tuesday.

“Of the seven journalists killed in Pakistan this year, five were murdered,” CPJ executive director Joel Simon said.

Saleem Shahzad, who was Southeast Asia’s bureau chief for Asia Times Online and also worked for Italy’s AKI news agency, was found dead following his disappearance from Islamabad May 29. His death has drawn worldwide atttention.

The 40-year-old’s body with signs of torture was recovered two days later in Mandi Bahauddin, 150 km from Islamabad.

“Mexico, which will assume the G20 presidency in 2012, holds a similarly atrocious record,” Simon said.

“Despite many promises, authorities in Pakistan and Mexico have made no progress in solving these crimes, and their failure to do so perpetuates this climate of violence.”

The global tally is consistent with the 2010 toll, when 44 journalists died in connection with their work.

CPJ is investigating another 35 deaths in 2011 to determine whether they were work-related. Twenty of these cases are in Latin America, where the web of crime, official corruption, and weak law enforcement often obscures the motive.

Over 80 percent of those killed were local journalists. Photographers and camera operators suffered steep losses in 2011, constituting about 40 percent of the overall toll.

The number of freelancers killed on the job has also increased steadily over the years, constituting nearly a third of the 2011 poll.

Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities.

In the Middle East, 18 journalists perished this year, many while covering the uprisings that swept the Arab world.

“The combination of dangerous assignments turned deadly and targeted murders that remain unsolved is a double challenge to free expression,” said Simon.

“Combatants must recognize the right of journalists to cover conflict, while governments must be held accountable for investigating and prosecuting those who carry out crimes against the press.”

Fatalities on dangerous assignments such as street protests reached the highest rate since 1992, CPJ’s survey shows, while the proportion of murders has declined over the years, accounting for less than half the deaths in 2011.

Nonetheless, assassinations continued in places where governments have failed to prosecute previous crimes.

CPJ research shows that about 90 percent of journalist murders go unsolved even though most victims - 70 percent in 2011 - reported receiving threats prior to their deaths.

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