Deaths of Journalists’ hits an all time high

November 29th, 2007 - 6:14 pm ICT by admin  

Brussels,Nov 29 (ANI): At least 171 journalists and other news media staff have died as a result of their work around the world so far this year, making 2007 the bloodiest year on record for the industry.
With more than a month still to go before the end of the year, the all-time high of 168 deaths recorded in 2006 was exceeded on Tuesday when at least three editorial staff were killed in Sri Lanka during a military air strike on a radio station.
“This horrible statistic should be regarded as a low point in the safety and welfare of the media profession. We need better protection for media workers worldwide,” said INSI Honorary President Chris Cramer.
According to casualty records maintained by the International News Safety Institute the dead between 1 January and 28 November comprise 142 journalists and 29 support staff, such as drivers, translators and news technicians, in 35 countries.
The great majority — 121 — were apparently murdered, targeted because of their jobs. Fifteen died in crossfire or other random attacks, 34 were killed in road or air accidents while the circumstances of one death were unclear.
The most murderous country again was Iraq, where 64 died, taking the total news media toll since the start of the war to at least 235. Others were Sri Lanka (6 murders), Afghanistan, Mexico, India and Philippines (5 each) and Haiti, Pakistan and Somalia (4 each).
Sri Lanka’s position as a highly dangerous country for the news media was confirmed when the Air Force bombed the Voice of Tigers, the official radio station of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the northern province of Vanni. Nine people were killed, including at least three Editorial staff, according to reliable reports. All were reported to be civilians.
Journalists are protected as civilians in a war zone and the deliberate targeting of civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
The United States ranked second after Iraq in the total number of journalists who have died this year trying to cover the news, but all but one of the casualties were as a result of an air or road accident. Four died when two news helicopters collided while trying to cover a police car chase in Phoenix last July. Nigeria also has a questionable overall safety record with six dead in a single accident last May.
“The news media death toll around the world has risen almost every year since the millennium — each year worse than the one before,” said INSI Director Rodney Pinder. “This is despite international calls for an end to the murder of journalists and other news professionals and an end to impunity for their killers. It is far beyond time for nations and the international community to back up these calls with action.
“Far too many news media also die in road or air accidents. It is time for many news organisations to take more seriously their duty of care, for staff and freelancers alike. Proper training and observance of good safety practice often can avoid needless deaths,” he added.
Analysis of casualty data by INSI shows at least 1,200 news media staff died covering the news around the world between 1996 and mid-2007.
Two-thirds were murdered and in nine out of 10 cases no one was brought to justice.
Following two years of campaigning by INSI, the International Federation of Journalists and the European Broadcasting Union, the UN Security Council last December unanimously passed Resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists in conflict zones and on the need to end impunity for their killers.
The Council of Europe passed Resolution 1535 in January of this year on the safety of journalists in peacetime as well as war.
“We call on governments everywhere to respect these resolutions in the letter and the spirit and take determined, effective action to stem the bloodshed,” Pinder said. (ANI)

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