‘2018 Reverses Downward Trend in Killings of Journalists with 94 Victims, Says IFJ

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary
Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has released a list of 94 journalists and media workers killed in work-related incidents in the year 2018 marking that from  its records, the figure represents a slight increase up from 82 killings recorded in 2017 and representing a reversal of the downward trend from the last three previous years.

The IFJ says that this year’s roll call of loss of lives to violence includes 84 journalists, cameramen, fixers and technicians who died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross fire incidents. The list also documents ten other media staff members who worked as drivers, protection officers and a sales assistant all of whom lost their lives. Six of the 94 victims were women.

The IFJ 2018 list paints a picture of on-going safety crisis in journalism, highlighted by the cruel murder of the Washington Post columnist and Saudi national, Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. It was the latest in a series of devastating attacks on media professionals, including the multiple bomb attacks which turned Afghanistan into a killing zone for journalists and the reign of violence by organised crime in Mexico which remains firmly trained on journalists.

In another worrying development, five journalists and media personnel of Capital Gazette, a daily published in Annapolis, the capital of the US state of Maryland were gunned down by a disgruntled individual who had lost a defamation case against the publication in what police described as a ‘ deliberate attack.’

Philippe Leruth,  IFJ President said: “These brazen acts of violence in utter disregard to human life have brought to an abrupt end the short lived decrease in journalists’ killings recorded over the last three years. Once again, the IFJ is asking United Nations’ Members States to adopt at  their general Assembly the Convention on the security and protection of journalists which the IFJ presented to diplomatic missions at the UN in New York last October. This Convention, supported by the profession as a whole, is a concrete response to crimes committed against journalists in full impunity.”

Armed conflict and militant extremism account for most journalists’ killings in countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, according to the IFJ list for 2018. It showed that there was a steep drop in violence against journalists in Iraq during the year since armed groups lost ground in the country.

IFJ added that there were other factors such as the increasing intolerance to independent reporting, populism, rampant corruption and crime as well as the breakdown of law and order afflicting countries in so-called peace time like India, Pakistan and the Philippines. These factors, IFJ says, contribute to perpetuating an environment in which, consistently, there are more journalists killed for covering their communities, cities and countries than for reporting in armed zones.

“The numbers on this list are a sad reminder that the safety of journalists will remain elusive as long as countries boasting institutions which should be enforcing the law but have been paralysed by corruption and incompetence in the face of unrelenting assault on journalism,” added IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger. “As such, they stand as a damning indictment of the authorities for their failure to uphold the journalists’ right to their physical safety and to guarantee an informed public discourse in a democracy.”

The IFJ records for 2018 shows that the Asia Pacific recorded the highest killing tally with 32, followed by the Americas with 27 killings, the Middle East and the Arab World recorded 20 while Africa comes fourth with eleven killings before Europe where four were killed.