Number of journalists killed rising, says reporter group

Sixty-six journalists were killed and more than 1 000 arrested worldwide this year—many of them covering Arab revolutions, gang crime in Mexico or political turmoil in Pakistan—Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Thursday.

Last year 57 journalists were killed for their work the world over. The worst year of the past decade for journalists was 2007, when war in Iraq pushed the global toll up to 87.

Ten journalists were killed in Pakistan, most of them murdered, making it the most dangerous country for news coverage for the second year running.

With pro-democracy demonstrations prompting violent reprisals from Arab governments, the number of reporters killed in the Middle East doubled to 20 this year.

A similar number were killed in Latin America, where criminal violence was rife, the Paris-based RSF said in a statement.

Some 1 044 journalists were arrested this year—nearly double the 2010 figure—due largely to the Arab Spring, as well as street protests in countries including Greece, Belarus, Uganda, Chile and the US.

“From Cairo’s Tahrir Square to Khuzdar in southwestern Pakistan, from Mogadishu to the cities of the Philippines, the risks of working as a journalist at times of political instability were highlighted more than ever in 2011,” RSF said.

Doubled figures
China, Iran and Eritrea remained the biggest prisons for the media, it said, without specifying how many journalists were in jail there.

The 10 locations that RSF considered the most dangerous for journalists included Abidjan, the business capital of Cte d’Ivoire, where at least two reporters were killed in electoral violence, and Cairo’s Tahrir Square where journalists were systematically attacked by supporters of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak before he stepped down in February.

The Arab Spring flashpoints of Deraa, Homs and Damascus in Syria, Change Square in the Yemeni capital Sanaa and the Libyan rebel stronghold of Misrata were also on the list.

“Street protests in other countries such as Greece, Belarus, Uganda, Chile and the US were responsible for the dramatic surge in the number of arrests, from 535 in 2010 to 1 044 in 2011,” RSF said in a statement.

It said 20 journalists were killed in the Middle East and an equal number in Latin America “which is very exposed to the threat of criminal violence”.—Reuters, AFP


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