Syria was the deadliest country for journalists, as Reporters Without Borders calls for UN action
More than 70 journalists were killed across the world in 2016, three quarters of them directly targeted with deadly violence, according to a yearly round-up from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Seventy-four journalists were killed this year, including 57 professionals, nine citizen journalists, and eight media contributors.
Sixty-five per cent died in conflict zones, while 95 per cent were killed working in their own countries, compared to five per cent who were foreign correspondents.
Syria was by far the deadliest country for reporters, with 19 of the total killed, followed by Afghanistan, where all ten journalists who died were targeted for their professions. Seven died in a suicide bombing of a minibus used by privately-owned Tolo TV in January.
RSF condemned what it called ‘the impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists and the complicit lack of action by many governments that are often only too ready themselves to trample on media freedom’.
Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general, said:
“The violence against journalists is more and more deliberate. They are clearly being targeted and murdered because they are journalists.
This alarming situation reflects the glaring failure of the international initiatives aimed at protecting them, and is a death warrant for independent reporting in those areas where all possible means are used to impose censorship and propaganda, especially by fundamentalist groups in the Middle East.”
He called on the United Nations to ‘establish a concrete mechanism’ for enforcing its resolutions, and the appointment of a special representative for the protection of journalists ‘as a matter of urgency’.
The number of journalists killed this year is lower than in 2015, when 101 were killed – a drop RSF says is due to many journalists fleeing countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Burundi, which have become too dangerous.
RSF said ‘these exoduses have created news and information black holes where impunity reigns. The fall is also the result of the terror imposed by press freedom predators who close media outlets arbitrarily and gag journalists’.
Of countries not at war, Mexico was the deadliest for journalists, with nine killed by criminal cartels. Journalists were also hunted down and slain in Yemen.
At least 780 professional journalists have been killed in connection with their work since 2006.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.