ISLAMABAD: At least 81 reporters were killed doing their jobs in 2017, while violence and harassment against media staff has skyrocketed, said the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
In its annual “Kill Report”, the IFJ said the reporters lost their lives in targeted killings, car bomb attacks and crossfire incidents around the world.
More than 250 journalists were in prison in 2017.
Pakistan shared the spot with the Philippines with four journalists killed in each country.
On October 12, 2017, Haroon Khan, a journalist with Satch TV and a stringer for local Mashriq Television channel, was gunned down outside his home by unidentified assailants.
On February 12, 2017, Taimoor Abbas, a 22-year-old assistant cameraman of privately-owned Samaa TV news channel, was shot in his head and chest when he was traveling in the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van in north Nazimabad to report on an attack on the police.
On June 11, 2017, Bakshish Elahi, the Bureau Chief of K-2 Times, an Urdu daily newspaper in Haripur, was shot dead by unknown motorbike-borne gunmen near his home at Lora Chowk, Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
On January 12, 2017, Muhammad Jan, journalist of Qudrat, the local Urdu language newspaper in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Balochistan province, close to the Afghan and Iranian border, was shot dead while on his way home on a motorcycle in Qalat district, some 160 kilometres south of Quetta, the provincial capital.
The largest number were killed in Mexico, but many also died in conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
The IFJ suspected but could not officially confirm that at least one other journalist was killed Thursday in an attack by an Islamic State suicide bomber on a Shiite cultural centre in Kabul, in which at least 41 people died.
However, the number of deaths as of December 29 was the lowest in a decade, down from 93 in 2016.
IFJ President Philippe Leruth said that while the drop in deaths “represents a downward trend, the levels of violence in journalism remain unacceptably high”.
He said the IFJ finds it “most disturbing that this decrease cannot be linked to any measure by governments to tackle the impunity for these crimes”.
Eight women journalists were killed, two in European democracies — Kim Wall in Denmark, who died on the submarine of an inventor she was writing about, and Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was blown up by a bomb placed in her car.
Beyond the deaths, the IFJ warned that “unprecedented numbers of journalists were jailed, forced to flee, that self-censorship was widespread and that impunity for the killings, harassment, attacks and threats against independent journalism was running at epidemic levels”.
Turkey, where official pressure on the media has been ramped up since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, is becoming notorious for putting reporters behind bars. Some 160 journalists are jailed in Turkey — two-thirds of the global total — the report said.
The organisation also expressed concern about India, the world’s largest democracy, where it said that attacks on journalists are being motivated by violent populism.