The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today released its annual report on journalists and media staff killed last year, confirming that the death toll of at least 155 killed and 22 accidental deaths has marked out 2006 as the bloodiest year on record for journalism worldwide.
The IFJ report – Journalism Put to the Sword in 2006 – provides a detailed account of the deaths, including 69 deaths in Iraq alone. The Federation says the report provides a challenge to employers and governments to do more to improve levels of security and safety.
The IFJ says that media leaders such as Reuters, the BBC and CNN have used their global reputation alongside regional networks, including some leading members of the European Broadcasting Union, to help pioneer a safety culture – but the industry as a whole is “still in deficit” when it comes to reducing the risks journalists and media staff face.
“There is a dramatic discrepancy between media which take their responsibility to staff safety seriously,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White, “and those who, frankly, appear to send people into the field and don’t give a damn what happens to them.”
The IFJ says media employers have no excuse not to join the International News Safety Institute, an independent industry-wide coalition campaigning for safety training and better protection for journalists.
“Everyone must pitch in to reduce this appalling level of violence against our people,” said White.
Africa: 5 Killed
4 Accidental Deaths
In Africa, the problem is particularly acute because of regional conflicts in the Congo, Somalia and Sudan as well as long-established problems of resources which mean that journalism is under-funded, said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IJF Africa Office.
“Even in this region our employers and public authorities, which often means the state, can do much more to invest in security and protection of media staff,” Baglo said.
Americas: 37 Killed
10 Accidental Deaths
In Latin America, where journalists’ unions struggle to improve basic working conditions, media employers have a particular responsibility, says the IFJ.
Apart from support from the region’s leading media organisation Globo, employers, even some well-established groups, have been slow to give safety issues priority says Gregorio Salazar, Regional Coordinator for IFJ Latin America.
“Year after year, the Latin America media death toll remains high and this year has been no exception,” he said. “But still we see some employers dragging their feet. This is an issue which requires action not shrugs of helplessness.”
Asia Pacific: 34 Killed
8 Accidental Deaths
“In Asia the death toll continues to rise and the pressure on journalists remains constant in some conflict areas but it still seems that many media employers and governments are not getting the message,” said Jacqui Park, Director of the Asia Pacific Office. “We need more practical commitment to ways of reducing the risks and raising awareness.”
Europe: 6 Killed
The killing of Anna Politkovskaya drew the world’s attention the threats that journalists face in Russia but she was only one of many journalists killed there in recent years, said European Federation of Journalists President Arne Konig.
“The Russian government and media owners must do more to protect journalists and bring Anna’s killer and all of our other murdered colleagues’ killers to justice,” he said.
Middle East: 73 Killed
“The tragic killing of 69 journalists and media staff in Iraq is what made this year the worst year on record in our industry,” IFJ General Secretary White said. “Almost all of our colleagues killed there were Iraqi journalists. It is clear that the Iraqi government as well as the US military must make the safety of journalists a top priority or the country will never have real media freedom.”
For more information, contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide