At least 70 journalists and support staff were killed in the first half of 2012, according to research carried out by Cardiff School of Journalism, in what has been dubbed ‘one of the bloodiest periods of recent times”.
Fifteen were confirmed dead in Syria alone between January and June – including Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin – according to the biannual ‘Killing The Messenger’survey of news media casualties, carried out on behalf of the International News Safety Institute
After Syria the worst countries were Nigeria, where seven unidentified newspaper staff were killed by a bomb, Brazil, Somalia, Indonesia, where five journalists died in a plane crash, and Mexico.
A total of 124 media workers were killed in 2011, with 56 in the first half of the year.
ISNI believes 70 could be a ‘conservative figure’as it has recorded the deaths of an additional 30 journalists where it was unclear whether the killings were related to their work.
“Journalists are more than ever in the cross-hairs of the enemies of freedom,” said INSI director Rodney Pinder.
“Despite some encouraging international political moves to halt the murder, the gun and the bomb remain the favoured method of censorship in far too many countries.
“Each and every killing chokes the free flow of information without which free societies cannot function.”
The survey found that the ‘great majority’of news media deaths around the world are in peacetime. Forty-three journalists died in countries officially at peace, and were ‘victims mostly of vicious criminals, often abetted by corrupt security forces, politicians and business interests”.
ISNI said most of the dead ‘were shot or bombed, but some suffered appalling ends – beaten, tortured, strangled, stabbed or decapitated”.
The third biggest cause of death was road accidents, which it said was a ‘particularly wasteful loss”.
‘Scandalously, most of the killers of journalists continue to get away with it. In the first half of this year only one person was identified in connection with 47 targeted killings worldwide,” said the ISNI.
‘The rate of impunity for murder of a journalist has remained constant at around 90 per cent globally for the past 10 years – undoubtedly fuelling more of the same.”