Russia Ranks Behind Iraq in Journalist Deaths

Here is a sad statistic. As reported in Kommersant,

According to INSI [International News Safety Institute] , Iraq leads with 138 murders and unexplained deaths of reporters occurred from 1996 to 2006, 88 reporters perished in Russia and 72 in Columbia over the period. The global news media toll exceeded 1,000.

The alarming trend is the rising number of news media deaths. The death toll was 103 in 2001, but it widened to 117 in 2004 and to 167 in 2006.

In Russia, the problem of reporters’ safety is really grave, said INSI Director Rodney Pinder. Another incident of this kind happened in Moscow one of these days, Pinder said, reminding about the unexplained death of Kommersant journalist Ivan Safronov. The INSI director also mentioned the recent murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Unfortunately, Russia is not the only country that has a deplorable record when it comes to journalists. The survey, “Killing the Messenger,” demonstrates the global disregard for journalists. Some of its overall finding are

  • One thousand news media personnel have died trying to cover the news around the world in the past 10 years*.
  • Only one in four died in war and other armed conflicts.
  • The great majority died in peacetime, covering the news in their own countries.
  • Most of those killed were murdered because of their jobs; eliminated by hostile authorities or criminals.
  • Nine out of 10 murderers in the past decade have never been prosecuted.
  • The news media death toll has increased steadily since 2000. The last full year covered by the report, 2005, was a record with 147 dead. It has since emerged that 2006 was even worse, with 167 fatalities, according to INSI’s annual tally.
  • The Top 21 bloodiest countries over the past 10 years have been Iraq (138), Russia (88), Colombia (72), Philippines (55), Iran ** (54), India (45), Algeria (32), the former republic of Yugoslavia (32), Mexico (31), Pakistan (29), Brazil (27), USA (21), Bangladesh (19), Ukraine (17), Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone & Sri Lanka (16), Afghanistan, Indonesia & Thailand (13)
  • Shooting was by far the greatest cause of death, accounting for almost half the total. Bombing, stabbing, beating, torture, strangulation and decapitation were also used to silence reporting. Some men and women disappeared, their fate unknown.
  • In war, it was much safer to be embedded with an army than not – independent news reporters, so-called unilaterals, accounted for 92 per cent of the dead.
  • Overall, armed forces – regular or irregular – police and officials accounted for 22 per cent of killings.
  • The death toll was evenly split between press and broadcast. But news agencies, which are fewer in number, were relatively badly hit with six per cent of the total.
  • Most of those who died were on staff — 91 per cent against 9 per cent freelance — and one-third fell near their home, office or hotel.

*INSI’s researchers counted all news media personnel — journalists as well as support workers such as drivers, translators and office personnel, whether staff or freelance — provided they died because of their work gathering or distributing the news. All causes of death were included, from murder through accidents to health-related.

** Iran’s figures were swollen by one air accident in December, 2005. A military aircraft carrying news teams to cover exercises in the Gulf crashed in Tehran, killing 48 journalists and media technicians aboard.