At least 121 journalists were killed in 2012, a 13 percent increase over the previous year, with much of the increased death toll attributed to the perilous coverage of the conflict in Syria, according to a recent report from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The IFJ said 2012 was one of the bloodiest years on record for journalists and media workers, saying that the increase in deaths could be blamed on failures of the United Nations as well as individual governments.
“It is no wonder that these sky-high numbers of killed journalists have become a constant feature in the last decade during which the usual reaction from governments and the United Nations has been a few words of condemnation, a cursory inquiry, and a shrug of indifference,” stated Jim Boumelha, the head of the IFJ.
Syria, which has been mired in an increasingly violent conflict between government loyalists and rebel fighters, led the way with 35 journalist deaths. Somalia was next with 18 deaths, Pakistan—a country that is generally a risky place for journalists—experienced 10 journalist deaths, and Mexico—where cartels have openly and brazenly threatened media workers—also had 10 deaths, the federation reported.
The Philippines and Iraq were next on the list, with five journalist deaths each, according to the IFJ. The Middle East and Arab World was deemed the most dangerous region for journalists, with 47 deaths in total.
“The death toll for 2012 is another indictment of governments which pay lip service to the protection of journalists but have consistently failed to stop their slaughter,” Boumelha added.
The 121 bomb attacks, crossfire incidents, and targeted killings were generally intended to silence media workers covering sensitive topics in the country where they were working, the federation said.
The report shows that more needs to be done to protect journalists around the world, it added.
“We now look to the U.N. plan on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity to deliver on its mandate,” said Beth Costa, the general secretary of the IFJ. “The situation is so desperate that inaction no longer represents an option.”
Figures released by the IFJ, which represents some 600,000 journalists in 134 countries, were higher than figures released by Reporters Without Borders in December.
Reporters Without Borders said that 88 journalists died in 2012, but it also noted that this was the highest figure since it started keeping track in 1995. It, too, blamed the war in Syria as the main driving force behind the spike in deaths.
“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,” the group said.
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