Attacks on Media

Pakistan looms large in violence which killed 118 journalists and media staff in 2014: IFJ

02 Jan, 2015

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said that 118 journalists and media staff were killed in work-related targeted or cross fire incidents in 2014, an increase of 13 killings from last year. 17 more died in road and natural disasters accidents while on assignments.

According to the 24th IFJ annual list, Asia Pacific had the highest death toll with 35 killings, making it the most dangerous region for journalists and media staff in the world for the second year running. The Middle East comes in the second position with 31 fatalities, followed by the Americas on a tally of 26. Africa is forth with 17 killings and Europe finishes at 9 violent deaths.

The IFJ says that the ongoing vicious wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine as well as the violent insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan account for many killings targeting journalists. Pakistan ranks as the most dangerous country with 14 journalists killed, followed by Syria where 12 lost their lives to violence. Afghanistan and Palestine recorded 9 killings each while eight journalists were killed in Iraq and Ukraine.

The Federation warns that these new figures are a reminder of the gravity of the safety crisis in media and renews its urgent call to governments to make the protection of journalists their priority. It cites the brutal public beheading of many journalists including US freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the so-called Islamic State militants as a game changer in the governments’ attitude to media protection.

“It is time for action in the face of unprecedented threats to journalists who are targeted not only to restrict the free flow of information, but increasingly as leverage to secure huge ransoms and political concessions through sheer violence,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “As a result, some media organisations are weary of sending reporters to war zones out of fear for their safety, even of using material gathered by freelancers in these areas. Failure to improve media safety will adversely impact the coverage of war which will be poorer for lack of independent witnesses.”

Furthermore, the IFJ says that another cause for loss of life to journalists in 2014 has been the reckless attacks on journalists and media premises in conflict zones as Ukraine and the Gaza Strip.

In the meantime, the organised crime’s ruthless rule of terror and violence continues to cast a shadow over journalism in Latin America, especially in Honduras and Mexico where journalists pay the ultimate price for reporting on issues such as corruption, drug trafficking.

This was the conclusion of the IFJ fact-finding mission last September to the Guerrero state, one of the worst violence-hit areas of Mexico, to press the authorities on the need for drastic action to protect journalists.

“The levels of violence against journalists remain unacceptably high in a number of countries where journalists risk their lives in their daily job,” added Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary.“Sadly, many have paid the ultimate price this year and lost their lives to the spiralling violence which is engulfing media, fuelled by the climate of impunity.”

In 2014, the IFJ intensified its safety work, including training programmes for journalists from high risks countries, such as the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also joined partnership with the Council of Europe to establish an online safety platform for journalists and is testing new cutting edge safety tools to maintain permanent contact with journalists while on assignments in dangerous zones.

The statistics on journalists and media staff killed in 2014 are as follows

As of 31 December 2014, the IFJ has recorded the following cases of killings:

  • Targeted, bomb attacks and cross-fire killings: 118
  • Accidents and Natural Disasters Related Deaths : 17
  • Total Number of Deaths: 135

Among countries with the highest numbers of media killings are:

  • Pakistan : 14
  • Syria : 12
  • Afghanistan : 9
  • Palestine : 9
  • Iraq : 8
  • Ukraine : 8
  • Honduras : 6
  • Mexico : 5