A recent report by Reporters Without Borders revealed that at least 74 journalists were killed globally while on duty, and India remains among the most dangerous countries in world for journalists according to other reports.
With deaths of 74 journalists across the globe while on the job, most of whom were killed deliberately, the annual report by Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) points out the dangers of the profession. The casualties, as suggested by the report, included five women, and comprised of 57 professional journalists, nine citizen journalists and eight media contributors. About three-quarters of these victims were knowingly targeted, as claimed by Reporters without Borders. “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 RSF, a large advocacy group for freedom of information, said in a statement. However, according to Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a total of 144 journalists were killed this year in 31 countries, with two-thirds killed in those countries that are in a state of war.
In a separate report, New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said fewer journalists were targeted in 2016, but clarified that working as a war photographer or correspondent has become the deadliest journalistic job. According to CPJ’s annual report, political groups, including Islamist militant organisations, were responsible for more than half of the killings of journalists around the world during 2016.
Asking for a special representative to the UN for protection of journalists, RSF has appealed to the incoming UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. “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,” added Deloire. According to this RSF report, Syria was world’s deadliest for journalists in 2016 with 19 journalists killed in the country, followed by Afghanistan with 10 deaths and Mexico with 9.
Turkey grows dangerous
RSF found that the number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey grew drastically over the past 12 months. “At the gateway to Europe, an all-out witch-hunt has resulted in dozens of journalists being jailed and has turned Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for media personnel,” Deloire said. Emphasising on the need for immediate action, he further stated, “In the space of a year, the Erdogan regime has crushed all media pluralism while the European Union has said virtually nothing.”
According to RSF’s records, in a 22 pc rise in figures since 2015, not less than 100 journalists and media contributors are currently being held in Turkish jails. The CPJ report puts the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide at a record high of 259 this year after Turkey sent 81 journalists behind bars.
Indian journos under attack
India has been placed as the sixth most dangerous place in world for journalists, according to the PEC report. With an extremely poor rank of 133 among 180 countries on the Press Freedom Index that was revealed earlier this year, this comes as no surprise. The 2016 Press Freedom Index report, which was also released by RSF, stated that the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi seems “indifferent” to the threats against journalists. “Journalists and bloggers are attacked and anathematised by various religious groups that are quick to take offense,” the report said.
Earlier this year, a ban on a national TV channel had led the country to a heated debate on press freedom. Even with journalists under constant threat, even in public forums such as Twitter, protection remains absent or minimal.