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2023 was a deadliest year for journalists in a decade: PEC

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2023 was a deadliest year for journalists in a decade: PEC

By Nava Thakuria
Guwahati, Jan 5:

With 140 journalists killed, 2023 was the deadliest year in ten years, Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, announced in Geneva on Wednesday. Two-thirds of the victims were in the Middle-East, with almost one killed every day in the last three months of the year in Gaza. The PEC strongly condemns all these attacks and sends its condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones. It calls for those responsible for these crimes to be brought to justice as quickly as possible.
Of the 140 media workers killed in 28 countries, at least 81 have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 7 October. Most of them are Palestinian working for different media outlets, including foreign media. They were killed in indiscriminate Israeli strikes, often in their homes, along with members of their families. The Asian region lost 12 journalists to assailants till the last day of December. Pakistan and India lost three scribes each, while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Philippines have lost two media persons each in the year.
“We condemn these indiscriminate strikes, which do not distinguish between civilians and Hamas fighters. While it is difficult to verify whether journalists were intentionally targeted or not, the Israeli army has systematically destroyed the Palestinian media in Gaza by bombing their offices and facilities,” said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC (https://pressemblem.ch/casualties.shtml), adding that the UN should investigate the exact circumstances in which Palestinian journalists have been killed since 7 October.
This is the highest media death toll in a conflict in such a short space of time. The PEC regrets that foreign media access to Gaza remains impracticable due to the security conditions, which prevents independent reporting from the parties to the conflict. Outside the Gaza Strip, 59 journalists have been killed in 27 countries. The situation did not improve in Mexico, where 9 journalists were killed, and deteriorated in Guatemala, where 5 murdered. Four journalists died in the war in Ukraine (1 Italian, 1 French, 2 Russians), as did 4 in Israel during the Hamas attack on 7 October.
Three victims were recorded in Cameroon, Lebanon besides India and Pakistan. Two victims were reported in the following countries: Haiti, Nigeria, United States of America besides Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Philippines. One journalist was killed each in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Paraguay, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. By region, the Middle East led the way with 64% of cases (90 deaths), followed by Latin America with 20, Asia with 12, Africa with 11, Europe with 4 and North America with 3.
Compared with 2022 (116 killed), a year marked by the start of the war in Ukraine, the increase in the number of victims is just over 20%. In 2012, the deadliest year since the beginning of the century, 141 journalists were killed (including 35 in the war in Syria). Over the last five years (2019 to 2023), the most dangerous countries for media workers were the Gaza Strip (Palestine) with 81 killed, followed by Mexico with 61 and Ukraine with 39. Next comes Pakistan with 32 deaths, India 31, Afghanistan 29, the Philippines 19, Honduras 14 and Syria 14, followed by Haiti 12 and Somalia 10.
Over the last ten years (2014 to 2023), 1,147 media workers have been killed, an average of 2.2 per week. The Geneva-based organisation includes in its statistics all journalists killed, whether or not their death was related to their professional activity. It is difficult to prove that a crime was committed in connection with a journalist’s work without a full and independent investigation, which is often lacking.
PEC’s South & Southeast Asia representative Nava Thakuria revealed that Pakistan lost Imtiaz Baig, Ghulam Asghar Khand and Jan Mohammed Mahar to assailants last year, whereas India witnessed the killing of Shashikant Warishe, Abdur Rauf Alamgir and Vimal Kumar Yadav. Similarly, Ashiqul Islam and Golam Rabbani Nadim lost their lives in Bangladesh, where Husein Naderi and Akmal Nazari were killed in Afghanistan, and Cresenciano Bunduquin and Juan Jumalon in the Philippines.

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