Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a France-based international non-governmental organisation, revealed a new and startling trend regarding the deaths of journalists across the globe — they were mainly outside war zones.
In a report released on Tuesday, RSF said that a total of 110 journalists were killed “in connection with their work or for unclear reasons in 2015.” The group added that RSF is in a position to “say that 67 of them were targeted because of their work or were killed while reporting.”
The full list of those killed is published here.
However, RSF highlighted how the developing trend surrounding the deaths, which included eight people journalists who worked for the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January earlier this year, has completely switched from that of last year. It added that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was “underscored the need to combat the concept of defamation of religion” (emphasis ours):
Two thirds of the journalists killed worldwide in 2014 were killed in war zones. In 2015, it was the exact opposite. Two thirds were killed in countries “at peace.”
Journalists can even be killed in capitals far from armed conflicts, as we saw in the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris on 7 January. Charlie Hebdo publisher Riss said on 8 October: “We almost never sent journalists to war zones (…) On 7 January, war came to us.”
In January, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by several people who claimed the publication’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were offensive to Islam. Twelve people were killed in that attack.
Two days after the attack, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility and said it was to “avenge” the Prophet Mohammed.
RSF said that this led to “a reversal of last year’s trend, when two thirds of the deaths of occurred in war zones.”
The group also blamed the shift in journalists being killed outside war zones as a “disturbing situation [that] is largely attributable to deliberate violence against journalists and is indicative of the failure of the initiatives so far taken to protect media personnel.”
“The creation of a specific mechanism for enforcing international law on the protection of journalists is absolutely essential,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire in a statement.
“Non-state groups perpetrate targeted atrocities while too many governments do not comply with their obligations under international law. The 110 journalists killed this year need a response that matches the emergency. A special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for the safety of journalists must be appointed without delay.”
However, the report also pointed out the number of journalists killed in some of the most dangerous places in the world. This includes the staged murder of Japanese freelance reporter Kenji Goto’s execution. ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, Daesh, and ISIL, released a video of his execution.
The report also pointed out how four bloggers were hacked to death in Bangladesh in 2015. The victims — Avijit Roy on February 26, Ananta Bijoy Das on March 30, Washiqur Rahman on May 12, and Niloy Chakrabarti on August 7 — were “all secularists who advocated tolerance, free speech and freedom of thought in their blogs.”
Ansar al-Islam (a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) and Ansarullah Bangla Team, another militant group claimed responsibility for the deaths.
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