Spiralling News Death Toll Breaks 100 for 2006
Brussels, 29 September - The news media death toll for 2006 has reached 102, yet another blood-stained milestone for those covering the news around the world.
The deaths of two journalists in a helicopter crash on assignment in Nepal, correspondent Hem Bhandari and cameraman Sunil Singh of NTV, were the latest in a spiralling death toll between January and the end of September.
And the outlook is grim. This time last year the total casualty count stood at 77.
The International News Safety Institute recorded 147 news media dead covering the news in 2005, making it the worst year ever. The numbers included 48 killed when a military aircraft packed with journalists crashed in Iran.
The majority of the dead between January and September this year were apparently murdered because of their work. Seventy-nine were shot, stabbed, bombed or beaten to death, 13 died in accidents and 10 in crossfire.
The journalists and support staff in their news gathering teams, such as drivers and translators, died covering stories in 33 countries through 29 September.
As has become customary, most -- a total of 34 -- were killed in Iraq, the vast majority by insurgents. Almost all were Iraqis, reporters and cameraman in the main, who bear the burden of keeping the world informed about their country's agony. A total of 137 news media personnel have fallen in Iraq since 2003.
After Iraq, the deadliest countries were Sri Lanka, Guyana -- where five newspaper print technicians were murdered by gunmen in one incident on 8 August -- Philippines, India, Brazil and Argentina.
"The rising death toll suffered by people covering the news is a stain on free societies everywhere," commented INSI Director Rodney Pinder. "Free societies cannot exist without a free flow of information and whenever a member of the news media is slain a window to the truth is slammed shut.
"We need fast and effective action by democratic governments and international institutions to halt this deadly spiral. If we do not act, our freedom will slowly wither and then it will be too late."
INSI has joined with the International Federation of Journalists and the European Broadcasting Union in proposing a UN resolution on the protection of journalists around the world. Thus far it has met with little success but the effort will continue.
"We owe it to hundreds of brave colleagues around the world, who bring us the news at great risk to their lives, to press on with this initiative -- to keep hammering on the doors of our governments and international bodies until someone wakes up," Pinder said.
INSI monitors all places where members of the news media are in danger at work, whether from conflict, disaster, disease, hostile regimes or other violent elements. We track and record all staff and freelance casualties during coverage-related activities -- print, photo and video journalists as well as essential support staff such as drivers, fixers and translators. As we are a safety organisation, our casualty list includes all causes of death, whether deliberate, accidental or health-related.
Details of all deadly incidents for 2006 and previous years can be found on our website http://www.newssafety.com/casualties/index.htm
Any questions about this news release should be addressed to Rodney Pinder firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile +44 7734 709 267 or Sarah De Jong email@example.com or tel +33 22 235 22 01