Monday 31 December 2012

IFJ says governments and UN are failing to protect journalists and media staff after 121 killed in 2012

The International Federation of Journalists has accused governments and the UN of failing to protect journalists - after 2012 proved one of the bloodiest years for journalists and media staff with the IFJ recording 121 killings in targeted attacks and cross fire incidents.

The IFJ claims the killings are the result of systematic failure by governments and the United Nations to fulfil their international obligations to protect and enforce journalists' basic right to life.

IFJ president Jim Boumelha 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 Federation, 121 journalists and media staff lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other cross-fire incidents this year, 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  journalists were deliberately targeted because of their work and with the clear intention to silence them.

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 said: "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 "The situation is so desperate that inaction no longer represents an option."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet added: “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 decisive role of the work they do and on the free flow of vital information which can help shape a better world.”

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
Reporters Without Borders has desribed 2012 as the deadliest on record for journalists.

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