Tom Watson praises journalists’ courage after 93 died at work in 2016

Labour deputy leader calls for governments to protect journalists


Tom Watson has called for governments to protect journalists after a report found 93 journalists and media professionals died in work-related incidents in 2016.

The Labour Deputy leader, responding to the annual International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) report, called the number of deaths ‘a sobering reminder’ of the risks journalists take doing their jobs.

The IFJ figues, released on New Year’s Eve, follow a Reporters Without Borders report which put the number of journalists killed at 74, with three-quarters targeted deliberately.

As of December 29, the IFJ recorded 93 targeted attacks, bomb attacks and cross-fire killings of journalists, plus 29 accidents and deaths by natural disaster.

Iraq saw the highest number of media workers killed with 15, followed by Afghanistan (13), Mexico (11), Yemen (8), Guatemala (6), Syria (6), India (5) and Pakistan (5).

Tom Watson, who is also Labour shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said:

“The number of media professionals killed in 2016 is a sobering reminder that too many journalists pay the highest price possible in the course of doing their jobs.

It is thanks to them and others like them that we know the truth about what is happening in places that are afflicted by war, terrorism or state-sponsored violence.

Governments must do all they can to ensure that journalists who do the most dangerous jobs are protected as they go about their work.

In increasingly uncertain times, now more than ever, the world need robust and uncompromising journalism.”

Philippe Leruth, IFJ president, said: ‘These levels of violence in media should spur into action all those committed to protecting journalists. There must be no impunity for those crimes.’

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added:

“Remembering our many colleagues around the world who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their dedication to their work is a salutary reminder of the dangers and risks facing far too many journalists.”

She said the NUJ’s campaign with others to ‘halt impunity’ is ‘more vital than ever’ ahead of political instability in 2017 which could mean ‘more attacks on journalists and journalism’.

See: Seventy-four journalists were killed in 2016 – most of them deliberately

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