Journalist safety campaigners have declared 2007 one of the most deadly years on record for newsgatherers around the world with the equivalent of two killed each day.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiere or RSF) said today that 86 journalists were killed while reporting last year, one more than in 2006, along with 32 media assistants. Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan were the most deadly countries.
RSF said in a statement: ‘No country has ever seen more journalists killed than Iraq, with at least 207 media workers dying there since the March 2003 US invasion – more than in the Vietnam War, the fighting in ex-Yugoslavia, the massacres in Algeria or the Rwanda genocide.
‘The Iraqi and US authorities – themselves guilty of serious violence against journalists – must take firm steps to end these attacks. Iraqi journalists are deliberately targeted by armed groups and are not simply the victims of stray bullets.”
More than 1,500 journalists were physically attacked or threatened, 887 arrested, 67 kidnapped and 528 media organisations censored, according to the figures.
RSF also claims that more than 2,600 websites, including blogs, were shut down or suspended.
The International Federation of Journalists, working with the International News Safety Institute, put the number of journalists and media workers killed on the job at 171 – six fewer than in 2006.
‘Violence against journalists remains at extremely high levels for the third year in a row,’said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. ‘The scale of attacks on journalists marks a continuing crisis filled with unlimited human tragedy and relentless attacks on press freedom.’
Boumelha called for more action from the international community to counter impunity and to eliminate fear and danger from the profession of journalism. ‘Our colleagues have been targeted because of their work, or killed covering dangerous stories often in the rush to cover breaking news,’he said.
The IFJ said that 68 journalists and assistants were killed in Iraq, all but one of them Iraqi nationals.