Journalists Alarmed as Assassinations Accelerate Into 2001

Attacks against media and killings of journalists are increasing during 2001 according to the International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists organization. In the last week alone, three journalists have been assassinated in Colombia. The IFJ publishes an annual review of journalists and media staff killed in the line of duty. Until publication, the majority of cases remain under investigation. The IFJ has counted 21 journalists and media staff killed since the beginning of the year.

January saw the murders of Rolando Ureta, program director and broadcaster of Radio Mindanao in the Philippines and Salvador Medina Velazques, reporter and chairman of the board for radio station Nemity in Paraguay.

February noted the killing of Oz Rusli Radja, journalist from the weekly magazine Pena Lestari in Aceh, Indonesia, José Luis Ortega Mata, publication director and journalist with weekly Semanario de Ojinaga in Mexico, and Mohammad Yusop, radio broadcaster for RXID from the Philippines.

March saw the assassination of Vitaliy Khatov, newspaper publisher from Estonia, the killing of prominent owner and editor of the weekly magazine Al-Majales, Hidaya Sultan al-Salem in Kuwait, Saul Antonio Martinez Gutierrez, investigative journalist and deputy editor of the daily El Imparcia in Mexico, and the first victim of the clashes ongoing in Macedonia, Kerem Lawton from Associated Press.

April was marred by the violent deaths of Witayudh Saengsopit, director of radio station Home Media in Thailand, Nahar Ali, correspondent for Anirban in Bangladesh, Flavio Bedoya, journalist for the weekly newspaper Voz in Colombia and Carlos Alberto Trespalacios from Colombia.

On 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, Yessid Marulanda, journalist with Notipacifico TV News, was gunned down in Colombia.

"It is a tragedy that ten years after press freedom was made a defining point of democracy we see that journalists and media workers are still suffering routine violence in the line of duty. The problem is that too many of these attacks take place with impunity. The authorities must act now to bring those responsible to justice", says the IFJ.