Questionable safety for media personnel: report

Monday, 30 January, 2006

The safety of journalists at work has been called into question by both the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the UK's National Union of Journalists (NUJ) with the launch of the IFJs' report on the killing of media staff in 2005.

The report, presented at news conferences in four continents recently, lists a record toll of 150 in a year "scarred by targeting and tragedy" according to the IFJ.

The IFJ report says that 89 of the killings were journalists and media people killed "in the line of duty" many of them assassinated by ruthless killers working for political gangs or criminals. Another 61 were killed when disaster struck while on assignment "“ 48 of them alone in a Tehran plane crash.

The report chronicles the most dangerous countries for journalism with Iraq (35 killings) as top of the list followed by the Philippines (10 killings) and the notorious "deadly triangle" of Colombia, Mexico and Haiti, plagued by drugs gangs in which nine journalists were murdered.

The IFJ says that in more than 90 per cent of all cases there are few serious investigations by the authorities and only a handful of the killers are ever brought to trial.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear singled out impunity in the killing of journalists as the biggest challenge for journalists unions worldwide. "We are supporting the campaign by the IFJ calling for the United Nations Security Council to pressure governments to act against the targeting and killing of journalists," he said.

The IFJ plans to organise worldwide protests on 8 April this year to highlight demands for more action against impunity. This day is the anniversary of the US attack three years ago on the Palestine Hotel, a media centre in Baghdad, in which two journalists, Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and José Couso of the Spanish network Telecinco, were killed. Another reporter, Tareq Ayyoub, died on the same day when the US bombed the offices of Al Jazeera in the city.

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