Journalist death toll in 2009 reaches highest annual toll ever recorded
|A total of 68 journalists were killed worldwide in 2009, the highest annual toll ever recorded, RIA Novosti reported citing the Committee to Protect Journalists. |
The figure rose dramatically with the killing of more than 30 media workers in the 23 November election-related massacre in the Philippine province of Maguindanao, the CPJ said in a statement published on 17 December.
The previous highest toll was recorded in 2007, with 67 journalist deaths caused by an upsurge in violence in Iraq, the organization said. Last year, 42 media workers were killed around the world.
Russia, where three journalists were killed in 2009, has the fifth highest toll, after Somalia (nine deaths), Iraq (four) and Pakistan (four).
Chechen rights activist Natalya Estemirova, who had been investigating kidnappings and disappearances in Chechnya for the Russian human rights group Memorial, was abducted and murdered on 15 July in the south Russian republic. She was included in the list of journalists due to her articles for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasia Baburova was shot dead on 19 January in downtown Moscow, together with lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was acting on behalf of a family whose daughter was murdered by a Russian officer in Chechnya. Markelov died at the scene and Baburova lost her struggle for life shortly afterwards in hospital.
Telman Alishayev, an anchor in a popular religious TV program Peace to Your Home, died in September 2008, after he was shot by gunmen in the south Russian republic of Daghestan. He was not included in a 2008 list of murdered journalists as the circumstances of his death were not then clear.
"This has been a year of unprecedented devastation for the world's media, but the violence also confirms long-term trends," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in the statement. He said most of the victims were local reporters covering news in their own communities.
"The perpetrators assumed, based on precedent, that they would never be punished. Whether the killings are in Iraq or the Philippines, in Russia or Mexico, changing this assumption is the key to reducing the death toll," he added.
CPJ said it was investigating 20 other journalist deaths in order to determine whether they were work-related.
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