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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Journalism: A dangerous profession
By Petru Clej
BBC News

Alan Johnston in video made by his captors
Alan Johnston's ordeal highlights the plight of many journalists
The abduction and captivity of the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza has highlighted the dangers journalists are facing all over the world.

2007 is already on course to surpass 2006 as the deadliest year for journalists.

According to the International News Safety Institute (INSI), 101 journalists and media staff lost their lives in the first six months of this year.

Last year, 168 journalists were killed while on duty. Iraq is by far the deadliest country, accounting for 40% of fatalities.

"Journalists are in more danger now than ever before," INSI director Rodney Pinder told the BBC .

He said more attention needed to be given by media organisations to the security of their staff.

Journalists are in more danger now than ever before
Rodney Pinder, ISNI Director

"The BBC is one the most careful organisations when it comes to ensuring the security of its journalists, but many others are not", Mr Pinder said.

INSI, which describes itself as "a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the safety of journalists and media staff and committed to fighting the persecution of journalists everywhere", highlights the dangers facing journalists and the hotspots.

Hotspots

Besides Iraq and the Middle East, danger zones include Somalia, the Philippines, Mexico, Colombia, Russia and Haiti.

The number of journalists and media staff killed per year has risen sharply in the past five years, from 70 in 2002 to 168 in 2006 and, if current trends for the first half of 2007 are confirmed, it could go over the 200 mark.

Journalist and media staff casualties

Apart from murder, journalists face abductions, beatings, threats and acts of intimidation in most of the countries mentioned in the INSI statistics.

Although the overall picture looks grim, Mr Pinder thinks there is some scope for optimism.

"We have succeeded in persuading the UN Security Council to adopt in 2006 Resolution 1738, which condemns attacks against journalists in conflict situations," he said.

"We need to persuade governments to bring to justice all those who kill or assault journalists."

He said the fact that so many people rallied to the campaign for Alan Johnston's release shows that public pressure can work in protecting journalists and should be a warning for those who harm journalists that in the end this will not be to their advantage.

Journalist casualties in 2007




SEE ALSO
BBC's Alan Johnston is released
04 Jul 07 |  Middle East
Dangers grow for journalists
03 May 07 |  Special Reports
Media death toll 'worst' in 2005
04 Jan 06 |  Middle East
Chechen war reporter found dead
07 Oct 06 |  Europe

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