Iraq war most deadly for journalists

From Editor & Publisher, Jan. 3:

NEW YORK The Iraq conflict has become the most deadly conflict for journalists to cover in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) 24-years history, the group’s most recent analysis shows. A total of 60 journalists have been killed on duty in Iraq since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, including 22 in 2005. That figure surpasses the Algerian conflict from 1993 to 1996, in which 58 journalists were killed.

The CPJ report names 47 journalists who were killed in 2005 along with 11 whose causes of death are still being investigated. According to the CPJ’s investigations, 37 of the 47 confirmed deaths were murders. Five journalists died in crossfire and five as a result of dangerous assignments. Although this total number is down from last year’s 57 deaths, it is higher than the last 10 years’ annual average of 34.

Iraq by far claimed the most journalists’ lives, 22, more than 70% of which were classified as murders. Fatal abductions are an increasing problem there, where at least eight journalists were kidnapped and killed in 2005. And with foreign journalists staying out of harm’s way, Iraqi journalists accounted for 21 of Iraq’s 22 deaths; American freelancer Steven Vincent was the only foreign journalist casualty in Iraq last year.

The Philippines was the second deadliest place for journalists in 2005, accounting for four murders. Six countries recorded two deaths each for the year: Lebanon, Russia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Somalia.

The CPJ report also reiterated a tendency toward impunity for these deaths. About 90% of such deaths were unpunished in 2005, and less than 15% of journalist murders since 1992 have resulted in the arrest and prosecution of those who ordered the killings.

See our last updates on Iraq, Pentagon targeting of journalists, and the global state of press freedom.