Philippines out of list of deadliest for journalists
Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2015 - 9:00am

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – For the first time since 2007, the Philippines is not on the list of the “World’s Most Deadly Countries for Journalists.”

The New York-based press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in its yearend analysis that it did not document a single journalist killed in direct relation to work in the Philippines.

The CPJ, however, noted that at least seven Filipino journalists were killed in unclear circumstances. It continues to investigate these cases for a work-related motive, it said.

The Philippines was always in the list of  World’s Most Dangerous Countries for the Press, along with warn-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, peaking in November 2009 when at least 30 journalists were killed along with 28 others in Maguindanao, perhaps the single most deadly mass killing of journalists in the world.

CPJ began compiling detailed records on all journalist deaths in 1992.

Syria and France topped the countries around the world with 40 percent of 69 journalists killed in the line of duty in 2015.

Muslim extremist groups that included al-Qaeda and the Islamic State systematically kill journalists in Syria.

Nine of 69 killings took place in France, which came second to Syria.

The number of journalists killed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 23, 2015 was higher than the 61 journalists killed last year, the CPJ said, while vowing it was investigating the deaths of at least 24 more journalists during the year to determine whether they were work-related.

The CPJ noted that unlike the past three years, the deaths were widely distributed across countries, citing that at least five journalists were killed each in Iraq, Brazil, Bangladesh, South Sudan and Yemen.

In 2012, 2013 and 2014, deaths in Syria far outnumbered those in the rest of the world. The declining number of deaths in Syria – where 13 were killed in 2015 – “reflects in part the reduced number of journalists working there, after many major international news organizations chose not to send staff to the country and local journalists fled into exile,” the CPJ yearend analysis said.

It was acknowledged by CPJ that while there was lower number of confirmed killings in Syria, researching cases was increasingly difficult there and in other places ravaged by conflict, including Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

CPJ said it undertook a research mission to Iraq this year to investigate reports that up to 35 journalists from Mosul were missing, dead or held captive by Islamic State. But the CPJ wasn’t able to confirm the deaths because of the militant group’s stranglehold on information about the city.

The press freedom watchdog said it has received reports of dozens more journalists killed in Syria and Iraq, but was unable to independently confirm this and whether work was the reason.

Those left practicing journalism in these conflict-ravaged countries are often affiliated with groups party to the conflict, further complicating CPJ’s endeavors to determine the reasons behind their deaths.

Worldwide, more than two-thirds of the journalists killed in 2015 were singled out in reprisal for their work – “in line with the historical average but a greater percentage than CPJ has recorded over the past five years.”

One-third of killings worldwide came at the hands of criminal groups, government officials or local residents – in most cases, drug traffickers or local authorities suspected of being in collusion with organized crime, the CPJ analysis said. 

It specifically cited how Brazilian Gleydson Carvalho was shot dead by two men while on his afternoon radio show, which often criticized local police and politicians for corruption and wrongdoing.

Brazil, with six murders, registered its highest number of killings since CPJ began keeping detailed records in 1992.   

While the level of violence is unprecedented, Brazilian judicial authorities made strides in combating impunity with six convictions of murder in the past two years.

The world’s newest country – South Sudan – registered for the first time on CPJ’s database of killed journalists when gunmen ambushed an official convoy in Western Bahr al Ghazal state, resulting in the death of five journalists traveling with an official. 


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