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2012 deadliest year for journalists as 88 killed worldwide

Reporters Without Borders has named the deadliest countries for journalists across the world this year.

Arzu Kadumi, wife of journalist Bashar Fahmi, captured by Syrian forces, joins some 200 Turkish journalists marching to the Syrian embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Arzu Kadumi, wife of journalist Bashar Fahmi, captured by Syrian forces, joins some 200 Turkish journalists marching to the Syrian embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Image: Burhan Ozbilici/AP/Press Association Images

2012 WAS THE deadliest year for journalists worldwide since 1995, Reporters Without Borders has announced.

The organisation has released its annual report, which states that 88 journalists were killed, an increase of 33 per cent on last year. A further 879 journalists were arrested, while 1,993 journalists were threatened or physically attacked, and 38 journalists were kidnapped.

Seventy three journalists fled their country in 2012, while six media assistants were killed. Forty seven ‘netizens’ and citizen-journalists were killed and 144 bloggers and netizens were arrested.

Exceptionally deadly

RWB said that this year has been exceptionally deadly, with the worst-hit regions being the Middle East and Northern Africa (with 26 killed), Asia (24 killed) and sub-Saharan Africa (21 killed).

Only the western hemisphere registered a fall in the number of journalists killed.

The 88 journalists killed in 2012 lost their lives while covering wars or bombings, or were murdered by groups linked to organised crime (including drug trafficking), by Islamist militias or on the orders of corrupt officials, said RWB.

“The reason for the unprecedented number of journalists killed in 2012 is mainly the war in Syria, the chaos in Somalia and Taliban violence in Pakistan,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violations of human rights, in particular, the right to freedom of information, encourages the continuation of these violations.

To compile these figures, Reporters Without Borders used the information it gathered while monitoring violations of freedom of information throughout the year.

Most dangerous countries

RWN described Syria as a “cemetery for news providers”, with at least 17 journalists, 44 citizen-journalists and 4 media assistants killed in 2012.

Bashar Al-Assad’s bloody crackdown in Syria has hit news providers hard because they are the unwanted witnesses of the atrocities being committed by a regime with its back to the wall. Journalists have also been targeted by armed opposition groups, which are increasingly intolerant of criticism and ready to brand journalists as spies if they fail to reflect their views.

It was a “black year for Somalia“, as 18 journalists were killed in 2012 in this Horn of Africa country, with most the victims of targeted murders or bombings.

In Pakistan, a journalist was killed every month, and RWB described the country as “a minefield for the media because of endemic violence in Balochistan and Taliban reprisals”.

With its Tribal Areas, its border with Afghanistan, its tension with India and its chaotic political history, Pakistan is one of the world’s most complicated countries to cover.

In Mexico, journalists were targeted by organised crime, leading to six journalists killed.  Mexico’s violence “targets journalists who dare to cover drug trafficking, corruption, organised crime’s infiltration of local and federal government and human rights violations by government officials,” said RWB.

In Brazil, five journalists were killed, and RWB said that drug traffickers operating across the Paraguayan border seem to have had a direct hand in the deaths of two of the five, as both had covered drug cases. Two of the other victims were blogging journalists.

Prisons

RWB said that there are five ‘prisons’ for journalists, with a record number of journalists imprisoned in 2012. Turkey saw at least 42 journalists and four media workers detained; China saw 30 journalists and 69 netizens imprisoned; at least 28 journalists were sent to prison in Eritrea; 26 journalists and 17 netizens were sent to prison in Iran; while at least 21 journalists and 18 netizens were imprisoned in Syria.

There was a slight fall in the number of journalists being arrested or abducted in 2012 compared to the previous year – except in Asia and the Americas. Syria replaced Iran as the biggest source of reporters fleeing into exile. In total, 73 journalists fled abroad in 2012 worldwide compared with 77 in 2011.

Read: Syria state TV journalist shot dead: official media>

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