The passing year has been another deadly one for journalists, with at least 109 journalists and media staff killed in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents, according to the annual report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’ annual round-up puts the figure at 110 – in addition to 27 citizen-journalists also killed in 2015. In total, 787 journalists have been killed since 2005, according to RSF.
The very high number of journalists killed in 2015 (although there was a slight drop from 2014) reflects the increasingly deliberate use of violence against journalists. It is also indicative of the failure of initiatives designed to protect journalists and of the near absolute impunity for such crimes.
2015 was marked, in particular, by an increase in targeted terrorist attacks against journalists. French journalists paid a disproportionately high price when terrorists gunned down media workers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In the United States, the killing by a disgruntled ex-employee of two former colleagues at US TV WDBJ in Virginia took place in front of a global TV audience during a live transmission.
In response to the increasing violence against journalists, Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, is calling for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of UN agencies to enforce international laws protecting journalists. “The attacks in Paris shocked the world and put on the world stage the tragedy of the drip-drip slaughter of journalists worldwide, which are today the only professional group that pays so dearly for just doing the job… Journalism is put daily to the sword in many regions of the world, where extremists, drug lords and reckless warring factions continue murdering journalists with impunity.”
The IFJ 2015 list names the 109 journalists and media staff killed across 30 countries, together with 3 who died of accidental deaths.
This year, the killing of journalists in the Americas topped the toll, at 27 dead. For the second year in a row, the Middle East comes second, with 25 deaths. Asia Pacific comes third, with 21– a drop on last year due to the big fall in violence in Pakistan. Africa is in fourth place with 19 dead, followed by Europe with 16.
The Federation is urging the UN to take concrete measures through its Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists and take a strong stand against impunity for crimes targeting journalists. The IFJ ran a three-week campaign this year to hold governments accountable for the lack of investigation of crimes against journalists, which leads to the erosion of freedom of expression across the world.