109 journalists killed doing job in 2008

MORE than 100 journalists and support workers died covering the news in 2008, according to data released by the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

The figures reinforce the dangers reporters face, particularly in war-torn or developing countries. INSI claimed the “great majority” of the 109 casualties in 36 countries were caused by murders, some because of their work.

This was down from the 172 counted in 2007, which was a record year for INSI’s Killing The Messenger tracker. The Tracker has counted 1,375 journalist deaths since it began in 1996.

The worst country in 2008 was again Iraq, where 16 journalists were killed in 2008, although this was a great reduction on the 65 deaths in the previous year.

INSI director Rodney Pinder said: “We celebrate a safer environment for our Iraqi colleagues after five long years of great danger and terrible casualties, but Iraq remains the deadliest place in the world for the news media.”

There have been 252 news personnel killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Iraq was also the worst country for kidnappings with eight, with Pakistan (6), Somalia (5) and Afghanistan (4) contributing heavily to the 38 recorded by INSI.

“Journalists in far too many countries continue to be targeted for murder because of what they do,” Mr Pinder said.

“This remains an intolerable situation which must be confronted with determination by the international community. Without a free press corruption and crime thrive, undermining political and economic development for millions.

“We call on all nations, in war and peace, to observe in letter and in spirit UN Security Council Resolution 1738 of 2006 on the safety of journalists and on ending impunity for those who kill them,” he said.

Three journalists were killed in the first four days of 2009, with two dying in a suicide bombing in Pakistan and one gunned down in Somalia.

Click here to view full details on INSI’s website.

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