Saturday, 01 November 2014

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2013: yet another deadly year for journalists

Photo: UNESCO

2013 has been a dangerous and violent year for journalists. This year, 71 journalists have been killed, according to Reporters Without Borders, and there has also been a big increase (+129%) in abductions. The overall level of violations affecting news providers continued to be very high.

Violence against media workers undermines the ability of journalists to carry out their work freely as well as the right of citizens to receive the independent information they need, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement yesterday.

The head of the United Nations agency entrusted with upholding press freedom pushed on with her campaign to secure the safety of journalists, condemning the killing of media workers in Syria and Iraq.

“Combatting impunity must be a priority for the international community, given that we are just days away from the 7th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on the safety of journalists and that there have been new international resolutions on the protection of journalists,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

The regions with the largest numbers of journalists killed in connection with their work were Asia (with 24) and the Middle East and North Africa (with 23). The number of journalists killed in sub-Saharan Africa fell sharply, from 21 in 2012 to 10 in 2013 – due to the fall in the number of deaths in Somalia (from 18 in 2012 to 7 in 2013). Latin America saw a slight fall (from 15 in 2012 to 12 in 2013).

 “Too many professional and citizen journalists are losing their lives in the conflict in Syria, often deliberately targeted by the various factions involved,” Ms Bokova said in her statement on that war-torn country. “The circumstances of freelance journalists are a cause of particular concern, as they are often less well trained to deal with the dangers they face than are staff reporters.”

Syria, Somalia and Pakistan retained their position among the world’s five deadliest countries for the media (see below). 39% of the deaths occurred in conflicts zones, defined as Syria, Somalia, Mali, the Indian province of Chhattisgarh, the Pakistani province of Balochistan and the Russian republic of Dagestan. Of the 71 journalists killed in 2013, 37% worked for the print media, 30% for radio stations, 30% for TV and 3% for news websites. The overwhelming majority of the victims (96%) were men.

The number of journalists killed in connection with their work in 2013 fell by 20% compared with 2012, but 2012 was an “exceptionally deadly” year with a total of 88 killed. The numbers were 67 in 2011, 58 in 2010 and 75 in 2009.

Reporters Without Borders’ secretary-general called for tougher measures to combat impunity when he spoke at a UN Security Council meeting in New York on 13 December on “Protecting journalists.” RWB wants Article 8 of the International Criminal Court’s statute to be amended so that “deliberate attacks on journalists, media workers and associated personnel” are defined as war crimes.

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