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74 journalists killed worldwide in 2016

Syria, where 19 journalists were killed this year, was the world’s deadliest spot for journalists in 2016.

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American photojournalist David Gilkey was killed in June in Afghanistan when the Taliban ambused the army convoy in which he was embedded.

At least 74 journalists have been killed worldwide in connection with their work in 2016, according to Reporters Without Borders’ annual report to be released Monday.

Although the death toll is lower than the 101 recorded the year before, the decline is largely because many journalists have fled countries that became too dangerous, especially Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Burundi, the report says.

“The violence against journalists is more and more deliberate. They are clearly being targeted and murdered because they are journalists,” Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the world’s largest advocacy group for freedom of information, said in a prepared statement.

“This alarming situation reflects the glaring failure of the international initiatives aimed at protecting them, and is a death warrant for independent reporting in those areas where all possible means are used to impose censorship and propaganda.”

The casualties, including five women, comprised 57 professional journalists, nine citizen journalists and eight media contributors — three-quarters of the victims were knowingly targeted.

All but four of the of the people on the list were killed in their own countries: Syrian journalist Mohammed Zaher al-Shurqat, a critic of the Daesh terrorist group was shot in Turkey; American photojournalist David Gilkey was killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban; Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans was gunned down by Daesh in Syria; and Iranian reporter Mohsen Khazai was also killed in Syria.

Syria, where 19 journalists were killed, was the world’s deadliest for journalists in 2016, followed by Afghanistan (10), Mexico (9), Iraq (7) and Yemen (5).

Of the five female journalists killed this year, three came from Afghanistan and one each from Mexico and Somalia.

Reporters Without Border said “press freedom predators” close media outlets arbitrarily and gag journalists to create a climate of terror, causing many journalists to censor themselves to avoid being murdered.

The group is calling on the United Nations to appoint a special representative to the UN secretary-general for the safety of journalists to crack down on abuses and acts of violence against journalists around the world. The call followed its release of a Safety Guide for Journalists last year in response to the growing dangers for journalists.

“The rights of millions of citizens to news and information are being sacrificed as a result of the failure to take effective action,” says the 10-page report.

“The world’s major problems, environmental issues and the fight against violent extremism cannot be addressed properly if journalists are not doing their job. The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for crimes of violence against journalists must be ended.”

Deloire said he hopes the UN’s incoming secretary-general Antonio Guterres will take the appointment of a special representative for the protection of journalists as a matter of urgency.


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