The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has reported a record number of 150 media professionals killed worldwide in 2005, according to a Monday statement.
This marks a sharp increase from the previous year’s total of 129, which was already a record high. The report reveals that deliberate attacks, usually by criminals, extremists or paramilitary groups, accounted for more than half the deaths. This has led to IFJ Secretary General, Aidan White, calling 2005 “a year of unspeakable violence against media.”
Disturbing violence against media
The IFJ’s figures differ from other media organizations as they include media support staff such as drivers and translators. This distinction is crucial, as it highlights the fact that media workers are not just the journalists themselves, but also the individuals who support their work, such as drivers and translators.
This makes the problem of violence against media professionals even more pressing, as it encompasses a wider range of individuals who are integral to the functioning of a free and independent media.
The report also showed a rising trend of “targeted assassination of editorial staff” with 89 journalists losing their lives in the line of duty. This figure is a cause for concern, as it suggests that journalists are increasingly being targeted specifically for their work. This undermines the very principles of freedom of expression and the press, and makes it more difficult for journalists to carry out their work without fear of retaliation.
Middle East: most dangerous region for journalists
The Middle East was the most dangerous region for journalists in 2005, with 35 journalists killed, followed by the Philippines where at least 10 journalists were murdered. The US was responsible for five of these deaths, bringing the total number of military-involved killings of journalists since the 2003 invasion to 18. The high number of deaths in the Middle East is particularly concerning, as it highlights the ongoing instability in the region and the danger that journalists face in covering these conflicts.
The report also highlights 12 journalists who were killed in Latin America, which White says highlights “the curse of corruption, crime and narcotics.”
This highlights the challenges that journalists face in reporting on issues such as corruption, crime, and drug trafficking, which are often deeply ingrained in the political and social fabric of many countries in the region. These challenges make it difficult for journalists to carry out their work without fear of retribution, which can have a chilling effect on the media’s ability to report freely and objectively.
The IFJ’s report is a sobering reminder of the challenges that media professionals face around the world. It is essential that media workers are protected and able to carry out their work freely, as they play a critical role in holding governments accountable and promoting transparency. The IFJ’s findings strengthen the organization’s call for independent investigations into the deaths of journalists, which are crucial for ensuring that those responsible for these crimes are held accountable.
Protecting freedom of press
The high number of media deaths in 2005 highlights the need for greater protection for media workers, both in conflict zones and in countries where corruption, crime, and drug trafficking are widespread.
It is essential that governments around the world take steps to ensure that journalists can carry out their work freely and safely, as this is essential for promoting freedom of expression and the press. The IFJ’s report serves as a wake-up call, reminding us of the challenges that journalists face, and the importance of protecting them and their work.