Nava J Thakuria
Geneva/Guwahati: Afghanistan and Mexico are the most dangerous countries for media work this year, the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said in its annual report in Geneva on Thursday in view of Human Rights Day. Since 1 January, 76 media workers have been killed in 28 countries around the world.
Afghanistan leads with 12 assassinations, ahead of Mexico where 10 journalists were killed. Among the most dangerous countries are Pakistan (7), India (6), Yemen (4), Democratic Republic of Congo (3) and the Philippines (3 killed).
Two deaths were recorded in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina-Faso, Colombia, as well as in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Turkey. Finally, one victim has been identified in the following countries: Ecuador, Gaza, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Lebanon, Netherlands, Syria, and United States of America.
Of the 76 journalists murdered, 29 were in war zones (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, DRC, Ethiopia, Gaza, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen). Terrorist groups were responsible of at least 20 murders (Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen), an increase compared to previous years.
The PEC strongly condemns these attacks and calls for those responsible for these crimes to be brought to justice. By region, Asia, with 39 dead (+6), is ahead of Latin America 17 (-10), Africa 14 (+5), Europe 5 (+2) and North America 1 (+1).
“The number of journalists killed decreased by 8% compared to the same period of last year, a slight improvement. Improvement has taken place in Latin America outside of Mexico, deterioration is observed in Africa and Europe. Mexico and Afghanistan are among the most dangerous countries for journalists for many years, but the rise in Africa is particularly worrying”, commented PEC Secretary General Blaise Lempen.
In Europe, the targeted killings of 3 journalists, in Greece, Georgia and the Netherlands is a very sad development. In Burma (Myanmar) after the coup and in Afghanistan after the departure of the NATO troops, press freedom has registered a very serious setback.
Over the last 5 years, Mexico has recorded the highest victims (66), ahead of Afghanistan (53), then India (40), Pakistan (35), Syria (29), the Philippines (21), Iraq (18), Yemen (17), and Somalia (16). In ten years, from 2012 to 2021, 1150 journalists were killed, or 115 per year, 2.2 per week, according to figures from the PEC.
Also read: PEC demands unconditional release of all Myanmar journalists
One positive development, says PEC President Hedayat Abdel Nabi is that the awareness across the globe has become more widespread due to the enthusiastic engagement of media colleagues to spread the message of media protection and the safety of journalists as well as press freedom.
“India has recently lost Buddhinath Jha (journalist cum Right to Information (RTI) activist, also known as Avinash Jha), whose body was found in Madhubani locality of Bihar on 12 November. The Benipatti-based family claimed that Buddhinath was offered a lot of money (as bribes) by some illegal healthcare clinic owners, but he did not listen to them. Later he received a number of threatening calls from unknown persons,” said Nava Thakuria, PEC’s India representative.
Prior to him, the populous country lost five journalists namely Ashu Yadav, Sulabh Srivastava, Ch. Keshav, Manish Kumar Singh and Raman Kashyap to assailants this year. Indian photo journalist Danish Siddiqui was killed in Afghanistan. India’s two neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh reported (7 and 2 respectively) media casualties, however Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet (China), Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have not reported any incident of journo-murder till date this year.