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IFJ reports at least 2,297 killed since 1990

3 February 2016

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has published its 25th report on journalists and media staff killed since 1990. The report lists 2,297 media fatalities due to violence and includes 112 killed in 2015.

From double digits at the start of these annual IFJ publications, the figures reached three digits in eleven years, peaking to 155 killings of journalists and media staff in 2006, the deadliest year on record, according to the IFJ.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, said:

"This milestone publication charts the trajectory of safety crisis in journalism and bears witness to the IFJ’s long running campaign to end impunity for violence against media professionals
"These annual reports were more than just about recording the killings of colleagues. They also represented our tribute for their courage and the ultimate sacrifice paid by journalists in their thousands who lost their lives fulfilling the role to inform and empower the public."

The IFJ report shows the killings span the entire globe. Wars and armed conflicts account for many lives lost in journalism but not all of them. Journalists have died in targeted killings, bomb attacks, cross fire incidents and increasingly violent kidnappings but the majority of journalists are not killed during wars.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:

"There were other reasons, often removed from the war theatre, for targeting journalists, many of whom are victims of organised crime barons and corrupt officials
"It is a recurring finding of our reports that there are many more killed in peace time situations than in war-stricken countries."

This finding is reflected in the ten top spots of the most dangerous countries in the report which feature places which suffered war violence, the breakdown of law and order as well as crime and corruption.

The most dangerous countries for journalists include:

Iraq (309), Philippines (146), Mexico (120), Pakistan (115), Russian Federation (109), Algeria (106), India (95), Somalia (75), Syria (67) and Brazil (62).

Last year, France (10) shared with Iraq (10) and Yemen (10) the top position on the list of countries with the highest number of killings, following the massacre of journalists and media personnel by the terrorists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Asia Pacific region recorded the highest death toll of 571, followed by the Arab World and Middle East with 473 killings, one more that the Americas (472) . Africa comes in the fourth position on 424 victims ahead of Europe with 357 dead. In 2015, the Americas had the most fatalities (27), followed by the Middle East (25).

A theme clearly highlighted by the report is impunity - only one in ten killings are investigated and impunity continues to fuel the violence targeting media professionals.

The report also explains the campaigns waged over the years by the IFJ and its affiliate unions aimed at making journalism safer. IFJ initiatives include the creation of the International Safety Fund that has provided assistance to journalists in need and has established solidarity centres in Algeria, Colombia, Philippines and Sri Lanka, these centres monitor crisis situations and distribute assistance.The IFJ has also provided practical tools, support and advice to journalists on dangerous assignments. For example, the IFJ has developed an international code of conduct for the safe practice of journalism and the IFJ have published Live News, a survival guide for journalists covering war zones.

The IFJ continues to play a leading role in building campaign coalitions and has helped to create organisations such as IFEX and INSI. The IFJ has developed partnership with inter-governmental organisations including UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The latest IFJ reports raises the alarm against violence inflicted on the media and promotes the protection of journalists. These are shared responsibilities and include the role of journalists and their employers in educating themselves on risk assessments, avoiding reckless assignments and taking all of the necessary precautions while working in dangerous and/or hostile environments.

Anthony Bellanger, added:

"This starts with the understanding that everyone, governments’ officials, security and military officers as well as others who come into contact with journalists need to respect their independence. It requires governments to comply with their international obligations by investigating journalists’ killings and bringing those responsible to justice, thus deterring future violence. It depends on the willingness of the United Nations and its agencies, as the custodians of international instruments which enshrine the right to physical integrity all human beings, to enforce these guarantees for the benefit of journalists and other media personnel."

Download the long-term analysis from the IFJ

Download the IFJ list of journalists and media staff killed in 2015.

Tags: , ifj, safety, safety training, impunity, journalists killed