RSF watchdog group says 110 journalists killed in 2015

Reporters Without Borders watchdog group releases its annual roundup, showing 110 journalists were killed this year

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

War-torn Iraq and Syria were the most dangerous places in the world this year for journalists, with 11 and 10 fatalities respectively

Updated Dec 31, 2015

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its annual roundup on Tuesday that a total of 110 journalists were killed around the world in 2015, many died in conflict zones, however most of them were killed in supposedly "peaceful" countries.

The Paris-based watchdog group said that 67 of them were killed on the job, defining war-torn Iraq and Syria as it's been listed as the most dangerous places for journalists with 11 and 10 deaths respectively. The third one is France, where eight journalists were killed after a satirical magazine headquarters in Paris was attacked by two gunmen.

The Charlie Hebdo magazine has a history of printing controversial material offending various religious figures including Jews, Christians as well as publishing derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

RSF reported that the other 43 journalists around the world died in circumstances that were unclear and 27 non-professional “citizen journalists” and seven other media workers were also killed.

The high death toll is "largely attributable to deliberate violence against journalists" and protests the failure of initiatives to protect media personnel, the report said, urging the United Nations to take action.

The report also highlighted the growing role of “non-state groups” such as DAESH terrorist group in perpetrating atrocities against journalists.

This year, two-thirds of journalists were killed in countries “at peace,” the opposite of last year, with two-thirds of them in war zones.

In 2014, there were 66 fatalities targeted in the course of their work.

"Non-state groups perpetrate targeted atrocities while too many governments do not comply with their obligations under international law," RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said.

"The 110 journalists killed this year need a response that matches the emergency. A special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for the safety of journalists must be appointed without delay," Deloire added.

Since 2005, the total numbers of journalists who were murdered, knowingly targeted or killed in the line of duty have increased to 787, including this years toll of 67 deaths, the group said.

The Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris was attacked on Jan. 7, 2015, when two masked gunmen stormed into the office killing 12 people, including eight journalists.

“It was an unprecedented tragedy. A western country had never suffered a massacre of this kind in the past,” RSF said.

"Charlie Hebdo's journalists and employees have been living under close protection ever since. Some of them still have to keep changing their place of residence," it added.

In Syria, the situation was not better. The northern town of Aleppo was described as “a minefield” for professional and citizen-journalists.

"Caught between the various parties to the conflict since 2011, journalists are liable to end up as collateral victims, being taken hostage by a non-state group (such as Islamic State [DAESH], the Al Nusra Front or the Free Syrian Army) or being arrested by the Assad regime," RSF said.

One of the victims killed in Syria was Japanese freelance reporter Kenji Goto whose execution by DAESH terrorist group was unveiled in an outrageous video in January.

The RSF also mentioned the fatalities in India where nine journalists had been killed since the beginning of this year, some of them for reporting on organised crime and its links with politicians and others for covering illegal mining.

In India, five journalists were killed on the job and four for uncertain reasons.

"Their deaths confirm India's position as Asia's deadliest country for media personnel, ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan," RSF said calling for the Indian government to make "a national plan for protecting journalists."

The Ansarullah Bangla Team was banned by the Bangladeshi government for allegedly killing three bloggers (AFP)

In Bangladesh, four secularist bloggers were attacked and killed by unknown machete-wielding attackers in this year.

"The passivity of the Bangladeshi authorities in the face of this bloodbath has fostered a climate of impunity that is extremely dangerous for citizen journalists," RSF said.

The report also put 54 journalists on the spotlight that they were taken hostages at the end of this year, 26 of them in Syria and 153 journalists who were in prison, 23 of them in China and 22 in Egypt.

TRTWorld and agencies