Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Journalists covering local issues more likely to die than in war zones

By Jay Jackson, Fort Lauderdale News.Net
21 Jan 2020, 17:49 GMT+10

It has been a deadly decade for journalists across the world, however last year there was a glimmer of hope when the number of reporters killed dropped by almost half.

Surprisingly, the Middle East, where there are wars raging in Syria and Yemen, and ongoing hostilities going on in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, the region ranked as only third for where the most journalist murders occurred.

Latin America and the Caribbean became the deadliest region with 22 journalists having met their death in those areas last year.

The second-deadliest region was the Asia Pacific, where fifteen reporters died.

In Arab states the number was 10.

The figures are drawn from the Observatory of Killed Journalists database, which is maintained by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Overall the tallying reveals that 894 journalists have been murdered in the last ten years, an average of nearly 90 a year.

As indicated earlier however the number last year was fifty-six, which although tragic, is a vast improvement of the total in 2018 of 99.

Surprisingly again, the UNESCO data indicates that journalists pursuing local issues are more likely to lose their lives, than those reporting from war zones.

In 2019, almost two-thirds of cases occurred in countries not experiencing armed conflict, and the vast majority involved reporters covering their local patch.

In November 2019, on the International Day to End Impunity Against Journalists, UNESCO launched a campaign, #KeepTruthAlive, to draw attention to the dangers faced by journalists close to their homes, highlighting the fact that 93% of those killed worked locally. The campaign featured an interactive map, providing a vivid demonstration of the scale and breadth of the dangers faced by journalists worldwide.

In a statement released Monday, UNESCO declared that attacks on journalists are an attempt to silence critical voices and restrict public access to information.

Aside from the risk of murder, journalists increasingly experience verbal and physical attacks in connection with their work. Over recent years, there has been a marked rise in imprisonment, kidnapping and physical violence, amid widespread rhetoric hostile to the media and journalists.

Women in the media are particular targets, says UNESCO: they are often targets of online harassment, and face threats of gender-based violence.

A report published by the agency in November 2019 showed that only 10 per cent of attacks are prosecuted, and less than one in 8 cases recorded by UNESCO since 2006 have been resolved.

(Photo credit: Leonardo Alvarez | LatinContent).

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