As ISIS’s horrific murder of James Foley this week was a grim reminder that reporters operating around the world work in constant danger of kidnapping, imprisonment, and death.
Tragically, as in the case of Foley, reporting dangers are sometimes lethal. According to Reuters, 714 journalists worldwide have been killed since 2000 for doing their job.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Iraq, which has been in a state of war or general lawlessness for most of the past decade, has been the most deadly country for journalists in that span. Interestingly, the Philippines — a developing democracy — was the second most dangerous country. Almost half of the journalists killed in the Philippines covered politics, while another third of those killed covered official corruption.
Mexico and Colombia also face surprising levels of violence against journalists. Often times, this violence is due to reporters covering stories related to drug trafficking and political corruption. Both countries also have a troubling record of failing to prosecute the murderers of journalists. They been rated by the Committee to Protect Journalists as the seventh and eighth-ranked countries where journalist’s murders are most likely to go unpunished, respectively.
Thousands of journalists also face political imprisonment across the world — 2,012 since 2000, according to Reuters.
Of the ten countries that have the highest rates of journalist imprisonment, only Turkey is generally regarded as a democracy. However, Turkey has been downgraded to a “Not Free” media environment by Freedom House in 2014 due to the country’s worsening habit of imprisoning journalists who report on sensitive topics, such as government corruption or the ongoing issue of Kurdish separatism.
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