BY Nava Thakuria
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim many victims among journalists where 442 media workers in 52 countries have died of novel corona virus infections since March. India emerges as the second affected country (after Peru) with 47 corona-casualties followed by Ecuador, Brazil, Bangladesh etc, reveals international media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).
In a statement issued from Geneva (Switzerland) on 2 November 2020 on the occasion of international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, the PEC also added that altogether 63 journalists have been murdered since January this year in various circumstances, which brings the total number so far this year at more than 500 fatalities.
“It is an extremely heavy and unprecedented toll. The safety of all journalists who work on the ground to inform on the pandemic is at stake. Many victims are young and they have been infected at work. As the second wave has just begun, we urge all stakeholders to better protect the media workers, without preventing them from doing their job,” said PEC general-secretary Blaise Lempen.
Peru remains the country with the heaviest toll, with 93 media workers who died from the corona virus since March. The rise in the number of victims of Covid-19 has been particularly strong in recent weeks in India, now the second most affected country with 47 deaths. Ecuador is third with 41 deaths, then at the 4th place Brazil follows with 36 journalists who died from Covid-19, then Bangladesh with 35 fatalities.
Among the most affected countries are Mexico, with at least 26 journalists corona-victims, then the United States of America (22), Pakistan (11), Panama (11), Bolivia (9). In Great Britain and Nigeria, eight journalists have died in each country. Seven victims were counted in Afghanistan and Honduras, six in Nicaragua, five in Russia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, then four in Colombia, France, and Spain.
Three journalists died of Covid-19 in Italy, as well as in Cameroon, Egypt, Guatemala, Nepal and El Salvador. Two deaths each are to be deplored in Algeria, Argentina, Indonesia, Iran, South Africa, and Sweden. At least one media corona-fatality has been traced in Germany, Israel, Lebanon, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq (Kurdistan), Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
The actual figure is certainly higher, as some countries do not report the deaths of journalists or some of them have not been tested before dying. The PEC count is based on information from the local media, national associations of journalists, and regional correspondents of the organization. Condemning the assassination of 63 journalists (India with six victims) till 31 October, the PEC also renewed its call to concerned governments to enforce the resolution of human rights council on the safety of working journalists.
*****The author is a PEC correspondent in India