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Targeted killings of journalists on the rise as beheadings signify 'new bloody chapter'

The IFJ says a total of 135 journalists have died in 2014.

James Foley
James Foley
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A TOTAL OF 118 journalists have been killed this year on work assignments in 2014.

A further 17 journalists died in accidents while on duty, bring the death toll to 135.

The International Federation of Journalists’ states that this is higher than the numbers for 2013, with an increase of 13.

Targeted Killings 

According to the 24th IFJ annual list, Asia Pacific had the highest death toll with 35 killings, making it the most dangerous region for journalists and media staff in the world for the second year running.

The Middle East came second with 31 fatalities, followed by the Americas with a tally of 26. Africa scored 17 violent deaths and Europe nine.

As of 31 December 2014, the IFJ recorded the following cases of killings:

  • targeted, bomb attacks and cross-fire killings: 118
  • accidents and natural-disaster related deaths : 17
  • Total: 135

Among countries with the highest numbers of media killings were:

  • Pakistan 14
  • Syria 12
  • Afghanistan 9
  • Palestine 9
  • Iraq 8
  • Ukraine 8
  • Honduras 6
  • Mexico 5

War reporting 

Conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, as well as the violent insurgencies in Pakistan and Afghanistan accounted for many targeted killings of journalists, with Pakistan being the most dangerous for working journalists.

The IFJ, on the backing of these figures, urges Governments to make the protection of journalists a priority.

It said that the public beheadings of journalists including US freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the so-called Islamic State militants were a new bloody chapter in the dangers facing those reporting in dangerous countries.

IFJ president, Jim Boumelha, said it was time to take action against those that target journalists, who use them to leverage huge ransoms and political concessions.

“As a result, some media organisations are weary of sending reporters to war zones out of fear for their safety, even of using material gathered by freelancers in these areas.Failure to improve media safety will have an adverse impact on the coverage of war which will be poorer for lack of independent witnesses.

Beth Costa, IFJ general secretary, said:

“The levels of violence against journalists remain unacceptably high in a number of countries where journalists risk their lives in their daily job.Sadly, many have paid the ultimate price this year and lost their lives to the spiralling violence which is engulfing media, fuelled by the climate of impunity.”

Read: James Foley wrote a letter to his family while in captivity and it’s beautiful>

Opinion: The killing and imprisonment of journalists should concern us all>

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