The number of journalists killed in the line of duty rose sharply in 2012, as the war in Syria, a record number of shootings in Somalia, continued violence in Pakistan, and a worrying increase in Brazilian murders contributed to a 42 percent increase in deaths from the previous year. Internet journalists were hit harder than ever, while the proportion of freelancers was again higher than the historical average, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its yearly analysis.
With 67 journalists killed in direct relation to their work by mid-December, 2012 is on track to become one of the deadliest years since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992. The worst year on record for journalist killings was 2009, when 74 individuals were confirmed dead because of their work—nearly half of them slain in a massacre in Maguindanao province, Philippines. CPJ is investigating the deaths of 30 more journalists in 2012 to establish whether they were work-related.
With 67 journalists killed in direct relation to their work by mid-December, 2012 is on track to become one of the deadliest years since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992. The worst year on record for journalist killings was 2009, when 74 individuals were confirmed dead because of their work—nearly half of them slain in amassacre in Maguindanao province, Philippines. CPJ is investigating the deaths of 30 more journalists in 2012 to establish whether they were work-related.
Syria was by far the deadliest country in 2012, with 28 journalists killed in combat or targeted for murder by government or opposition forces. In addition, a journalist covering the Syrian conflict was killed just over the border in Lebanon. The number of fatalities related to the Syrian conflict approached the worst annual toll recorded during the war in Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed in both 2006 and 2007.
Here are other trends and details that emerged in CPJ’s analysis:
- With two weeks remaining in the year, the 2012 death toll is already the third-highest CPJ has recorded. Along with the 74 deaths recorded in 2009, CPJ documented 70 deaths in 2007, a year marked by a high number of fatalities in Iraq.
- War, politics, and human rights were the three most common beats among the 2012 victims.
- About 35 percent of those killed in 2012 were camera operators or photographers, a proportion considerably higher than the 20 percent they have constituted in the death toll over the past two decades. About two-thirds of those killed in Syria carried a camera.
- In Mexico, where criminal violence has posed extraordinary dangers to the press, one journalist—freelancer Adrián Silva Moreno—was confirmed killed for his work in 2012. However, CPJ is still examining the motive in five other murders during the year. The Mexican government’s failure to carry out basic investigations in many cases makes it extremely difficult for CPJ to determine a motive.
- One journalist was confirmed murdered for professional reasons in the Philippines, the lowest number since 2007. In Russia as well, one journalist was killed: Kazbek Gekkiyev, news anchor for an affiliate of state-owned broadcaster VGTRK, was shot in the North Caucasus city of Nalchik. Both countries rank poorly on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free.
- In addition to the 28 work-related deaths in Syria, CPJ has documented the cases of four other journalists whose deaths in Syria came in unclear circumstances. CPJ is also examining the reported deaths of a number of individuals described by local groups as citizen journalists. In these cases, few details beyond the identities are known as yet.
- Outside Syria, fatalities declined in the Middle East and North Africa. Two work-related deaths were reported elsewhere in the region. In Bahrain, freelance videographer Ahmed Ismail Hassan was shot after filming a pro-reform protest. InEgypt, newspaper reporter Al-Hosseiny Abou Deif died after being struck by a rubber bullet fired by person whom witnesses identified as a Muslim Brotherhood supporter.
- For the first time since 2003, CPJ did not confirm any work-related fatalities in Iraq. A total of 151 journalists have died in direct relation to their work in Iraq, most of them during the years 2003 through 2008. CPJ is still investigating the deaths of three Iraqi journalists in 2012 to determine whether their work could have played a role.
- Tanzania recorded its first work-related fatality since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992. Daudi Mwangosi, a reporter with the private television station Channel Ten and chairman of a local press club, was killed during a confrontation with police over the arrest of another journalist.
- CPJ documented the deaths of one imprisoned journalist and one reporter under arrest. Critical Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti died four days after being arrested on allegations of “acting against national security.” Fellow prisoners said he was tortured while being held at Evin Prison. In Colombia, freelance reporter Guillermo Quiroz Delgado died after being hospitalized for injuries suffered when he was arrested by police while covering a street protest.
- Other countries where CPJ documented work-related fatalities were Nigeria, India,Ecuador, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Cambodia.
CPJ’s database of journalists killed for their work in 2012 includes capsule reports on each victim and a statistical analysis. CPJ also maintains a database of all journalistskilled since 1992. A final list of journalists killed in 2012 will be released in early January.