02 Nov 2017

Freedom of the press in danger: 930 Journalists killed over the last decade

On average, one journalist gets killed every four days. Records show that violence against journalists and other media representatives is on the rise.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Freedom of the press in danger: 930 Journalists killed over the last decade - NewsMavens
A reporter. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

November 2 marks the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. On this occasion, UNESCO released a report about the deaths of journalists over the last decade. According to their records, 930 Journalists were killed from 2006 until 2016. That means that on average one journalist is killed every four days!

In 2016 alone, 102 media representatives were killed, with Mexico and Afghanistan being the most dangerous locations (in both countries 13 journalists were murdered). Yemen (11), Iraq (9) and Syria (8) follow. Not all of these cases made headlines nor were properly reported in the media.

But in 2017 some cases did make global news. Like the alleged killing of the Swedish journalist, Kim Wall, that occurred this summer in Denmark. The case is still unresolved with one suspect in custody.

Another example would be the killing of the Maltese investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana, in October. The incident, involving a car bomb, is also still to be examined. Caruana was investigating leads from the “Panama Papers”. Some of them pointed to the Maltese head of government, Joseph Muscat, and his wife.

Only a few days ago, a radio host in Russia was stabbed in the neck. The woman, Tatjana Felgengauer, was rushed to hospital and is no longer in critical condition. The radio station Felgengauer works for, Echo Moskwy, is known to be skeptical of the government. The attack has been alarming to other journalists who are critical of the Kreml.

UNESCO emphasizes the worrying fact that in nine out of ten cases when the journalists got killed, the perpetrators went unpunished. What does an impunity rate this high point to? It can often be a sign of the worsening of an ongoing conflict, and a downfall of the law and judicial systems within a country.

According to further UNESCO reports, in general, a significant rise in violence against journalists can be observed. Among these are abductions, arbitrary arrests and torture. Wolfgang Schulz, a board member of the German UNESCO Commission, claimed that all “these offences need to be punished”. He went on to say that 10% of solved murder cases is “far too low”, and that a free and unthreatened press is vital to “reflected public opinion making”.

Details from the story:

  • Out of the journalists that were killed, 93% were local reporters; the remaining 7% were foreign correspondents.
  • According to the UNESCO, the amount of abductions of journalists by extremists groups has massively increased in the Arabic region.
  • The digital security of journalists is also endangered. Methods of surveillance, cyberattacks, the spreading of misinformation and intimidation, are on the rise.
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