KARACHI: Pakistan was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists during 2014 with 14 recorded deaths, according to the 24th Annual List Asia of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) released on Wednesday. Syria, where a deadly insurrection against President Bashar al Assad has been ongoing, was in the 2nd place on the IFJ report with 12 journalists killed in the line of duty.
A total of 118 journalists and media staff were killed in work-related attacks in 2014, states the IFJ report. The attacks included both targeted or crossfire incidents. Seventeen other mediapersons died in road crashes and natural disasters while on assignments. In 2013, 105 journalists and media staff were killed.
After Pakistan and Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine recorded nine killings each while eight journalists were killed each in Iraq and Ukraine.
“We have been raising our voice for security of media persons but the government has never taken the safety of journalists seriously,” said Amin Yousuf, the secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), told The Express Tribune. Yousuf complained that when journalists and media staff die in the line of duty, announcements are made by political leaders but their families never get compensation.
The IFJ report also warns that these new figures are a reminder of the gravity of the safety crisis in media and renews its urgent call to governments to make the protection of journalists their priority.
The Asia Pacific region, where Pakistan is located, had the highest death toll with 35 killings, making it the most dangerous region for journalists and media staff in the world for the second year running.
According to the IFJ, the ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine as well as the violent insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan account for most of the targeted killings of journalists.
“The levels of violence against journalists remain unacceptably high in a number of countries where journalists risk their lives in their daily job,” said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. “Sadly, many have paid the ultimate price this year and lost their lives to the spiraling violence which is engulfing media, fuelled by the climate of impunity.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2015.