London: More than 1,000 journalists and their support staff have died in the past decade, with Iraq and Russia topping the list as the deadliest countries for the profession, according to a report.
Most of the dead were men who died in their home countries. Nearly half were shot. Others were blown up, beaten to death, stabbed, tortured or decapitated.
The vast majority of those killed were on staff — 91% versus 9% freelance, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brussels-based International News Safety Institute.
One in eight of the deaths was prosecuted.
“This report breaks new ground in capturing how dangerous the pursuit of news has become,” said Tom Curley, president of The Associated Press.
“It also confirms how insignificant the efforts have been to achieve justice for journalists who are harmed or persecuted as they work to keep the world informed. We are at a perilous point in journalism: fair and accurate coverage is more necessary than ever but the risks to those who pursue it are greater than ever, too.”
The report came as detectives investigated the suspicious death of a military correspondent for Russia’s top business daily who was killed after falling out of a window.
Ivan Safronov, who worked for Kommersant, died Friday after falling from a fifth-story window in the stairwell of his apartment building in Moscow. Colleagues suspect foul play.
Russia was singled out in the report as a country with a growing list of slain journalists, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead outside her apartment in October amid her investigation of abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya.
Many lesser known journalists die each day, virtually unnoticed.
“I think we’ve got a great problem in Russia,” said Rodney Pinder, INSI director, at the release of the 80-page report. “We’ve got another journalist who died in mysterious circumstances a couple of days ago, and if we’re suspicious, who can blame us? Thirteen journalists have died in Russia since (President Vladimir) Putin came to power, and there hasn’t been a conviction.”
There were 138 deaths in Iraq in the past decade, while there were 88 in Russia and 72 in Colombia.
Other potentially deadly countries for journalists included Colombia, Philippines, Iran, India, Algeria, Mexico, Pakistan and the former republics of Yugoslavia.
“There is a culture of impunity in many countries,” said Richard Sambrook, global news director for the British Broadcasting Corp.
The death toll for journalists has been steadily rising in recent years.
Last year was the deadliest year for journalists, with 167 deaths compared to the 2005 toll of 147. In 2004, there were 117 deaths. In 2001 — the year of the 11 September attacks — there were 103 deaths; in 1996, 83 deaths.
A large percentage appeared to have died in targeted attacks.
The survey was conducted between January 1996 and June 2006 by the International News Safety Institute, a coalition of media organizations, press freedom groups, unions and humanitarian campaigners dedicated to the safety of journalists and media staff. The AP acted in an advisory capacity.
Deaths included journalists and their translators, fixers, office staff and drivers.
“Increasingly journalists covering international conflicts are identified with their countries or are seen as ‘either with us or against us,”’ the report said.
Many — particularly in Latin America — were being driven out by threats or attacks.
The report also criticized some news organizations who sent staff or freelancers into danger zones with inadequate equipment — such as bulletproof jackets or communications equipment — or training. Many journalists today are required to attend hostile environment training courses.
“Employers have a duty of care towards those they ask to work in hostile environments which requires a greater awareness of the risks,” the report said.