According to a report by the International Federation of Journalists, 42 on-duty journalists and media workers have been killed this year worldwide. Recently, a female journalist, Malalai Maiwand was killed in Afghanistan. Her assassination is a cold-blooded reply to those who envy a journalist’s so-called ‘glamorous’ life.
|| Shubh Mathur
In the period following 1990-2020, i.e. 30 years, a total of 2,658 journalists have lost their lives which is equal to 2 journalists or media worker dying every week. Over 50 per cent of them were killed in the most dangerous spots featuring countries which suffered war violence, crime and corruption as well as catastrophic breakdown of law and order. Iraq (339) tops the list followed by Mexico (175), Philippines (159), Pakistan (138) and India (116). These numbers do not reflect a consistent targeting of journalists spreading year in and year out, except for a few countries. The most murderous years were 2006 and 2007 which followed the height of the Iraq war and the sectarian bloodbath that ensued. The numbers in Pakistan and India accounts for 40 per cent of all the deaths in Asia-Pacific. According to the United Nations, 22 journalists have been killed in India since 2014. Notably, there has been a sudden hike in fake allegations against journalists and subsequent arrests by police.
“These are not just statistics. They are our friends and colleagues who have dedicated their lives to, and paid the ultimate price for, their work as journalists,” Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary, IFJ said. “We don’t just remember them but we will pursue every case, pressing governments and law enforcement authorities to bring their murderers to justice.”
Historically, wars and armed conflicts have been the main reason behind the crime where the journalists who report on them are exposed to injury, kidnapping or worse. But, today it is the crime barons and corrupt officials that lead the slaughter. The latter includes the civilian government officials, backed by the parliamentary groups and anti-government forces.
The untold part of the story, however, is the risk to the local reporters whose names do not come in the mainstream media. Their deaths speak for a larger concern- that their family could be the next, and this fear is hard to measure.
In a unique global study, IFJ found that 235 journalists are currently in the prison in 34 countries. The report says that it is a method of reprisal against brave journalists who stand for independent reporting which also serves as a deterrent to others. The fact that many journalists were released without charges underlines that their detention had nothing to do with law-breaking but sheer abuse of power to prevent public scrutiny of their actions.
‘’The staggering numbers of our colleagues in detention is a sober reminder of the exacting price journalists around the globe pay for their pursuit of truth in the public interest,’’ said Bellanger.