PEC Marks 20th Anniversary, Present Grim Statistics on Journalist Deaths

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Blaise Lempen, PEC President

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a non-governmental organization dedicated to strengthening the protection of journalists in dangerous areas, has announced shocking data of over 2,000 journalists killed in the last 20 years, averaging 100 journalist deaths per year. This grim statistic was revealed in a press release issued on June 4, 2024, to mark the organization’s 20th anniversary.

Founded on June 4, 2004, in Geneva with special consultative UN status, the PEC highlighted the heavy toll taken on journalists over the past two decades. Blaise Lempen, PEC co-founder and President, stated: “This is an extremely heavy toll,” adding, “Our main concern remains the impunity that characterizes most of the crimes committed against journalists.”

The statement noted that the annual peaks in journalist deaths have corresponded with armed conflicts, including the war in Iraq from 2003, the war in Syria from 2011, the war in Ukraine in 2022, and the conflict in Gaza from October 2023.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, raging since October 7, 2023, has been the deadliest for media workers in such a short period, with almost 130 journalists and media workers killed in eight months. This is equivalent to the number of journalists killed in the Syrian civil war between 2011 and 2020.

PEC named Mexico as the deadliest country for journalists between 2004 and 2023, with over 200 journalists killed. The PEC hopes that new President Claudia Sheinbaum will be more forceful in finding and indicting those responsible for these crimes.

The next most dangerous countries since 2004, according to PEC, are Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank), Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Philippines, India, Honduras, and Somalia.

Despite these grim statistics, the PEC noted progress in raising awareness of the problem among international organizations and governments. UNESCO has developed a plan for the safety of journalists, and the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have adopted several resolutions to protect journalists.

However, the PEC pointed out that the absence of independent investigations and the lack of political will in the countries concerned hinder diplomatic efforts and the respect for humanitarian law in armed conflicts, which is supposed to protect civilians.

Since its founding, the PEC has advocated for an international convention to strengthen the protection of journalists in dangerous areas. It vows to continue fighting to denounce abuses, combat impunity more effectively, and reduce the number of journalist deaths, with the support of other organizations.

The PEC has had special consultative status with the UN since 2010 and is run by a ten-member steering committee, maintaining a network of correspondents around the world. It publishes a biannual count of journalist casualties (https://pressemblem.ch/casualties.shtml) and, since 2009, has awarded an annual prize to a journalist or organization that has fought to defend press freedom. More than 70 associations around the world support the objectives of the PEC.