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Journalists link up to end slaughter of colleagues across world

1 January 2013

The National Union of Journalists has joined with organisations representing media workers across the world to call for action by the UN to protect media workers after a year in which 121 were killed because of their work.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Journalists from Britain and Ireland have been among the victims of the failure of governments and the United Nations to protect and enforce the basic right to life of our colleagues while going about their work.
"For journalists across the world, the deaths of 121 media workers last year is a deeply felt loss. But it is important that the public – and the governments which are meant to serve the public will – recognise that the killing of journalists is an attack on the decisive role of the work they do and on the free flow of vital information which can help shape a better world."

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that 2012 has been one of the bloodiest years for journalists and media workers and warned that the latest death toll is the result of systematic failure by governments and the United Nations to fulfill their international obligations to protect and enforce journalists' basic right to life.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, said:

"The death toll for 2012 is another indictment of governments which pay lip service to the protection of journalists but have consistently failed to stop their slaughter.
"It is no wonder that these sky-high numbers of killed journalists have become a constant feature in the last decade during which the usual reaction from governments and the United Nations has been a few words of condemnation, a cursory inquiry and a shrug of indifference."

According to figures released by the IFJ (PDF), which has published annual reports of journalists and media workers killed in work-related incidents since 1990, 121 journalists and media staff lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other cross-fire incidents in 2012, up from 107 recorded in 2011. Thirty more died in accidents or of illness while they were at work in 2012, against 20 last year.

Syria tops the IFJ's list of the most dangerous countries for media in 2012. More violence and lawlessness in Somalia turned the country into a media killing field while organised crime in Mexico and insurgents in Pakistan account for the high numbers of fatalities in these countries.

The Federation said that journalists were deliberately targeted because of their work and with the clear intention to silence them. This constant finding in the IFJ annual reports bring into sharp focus the need for genuine measures to protect journalists and punish those responsible for violence against media.

Last month, the IFJ urged accountability for violence targeting media at the UN Inter-Agency's conference in Vienna, Austria, which officially launched the UN Action Plan on the safety of journalists and the issue of Impunity, noting that ‘ the new UN plan is akin to drinking in the last chance saloon.

Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary, added:

"We now look to the UN Plan on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity to deliver on its mandate. The situation is so desperate that inaction no longer represents an option."

As of 31 December, the IFJ recorded the following information on killings of journalists and media staff in 2012:

Targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents: 121
Accidental and illness related deaths 30
Total Deaths  151

The deadliest region in 2012 was the Middle East and Arab World with 47 journalists and media personnel killed.  Syria had the region's highest death toll with 36 dead.

Among countries with the highest numbers of media fatalities are:

Syria 35
Somalia 18
Pakistan 10
Mexico 10
Philippines 5
Iraq 5

Tags: , media workers, safety, ifj, journalists killed