Deadly Year for Journalists

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The Committee to Protect Journalists has just released its report for 2009, and noted last year was the deadliest so far for members of the media, with 71 deaths in cases where the motive has been confirmed.

This was largely due to the single attack in the Philippines we’ve discussed elsewhere on the site in which 29 journalists and two media support workers were ambushed and slain in November in Maguindanao Province. As the report notes, the attack underscores a deep-seated impunity in the country.

But even where journalist did not pay with their lives, there was intimidation in Asia’s hotspots, and not just from militants. As the report notes:

‘During the Swat Valley offensive, as many as 260 local reporters wound up joining the general population in fleeing the all-out attacks by the Pakistani military, according to the Khyber Union of Journalists. Some stayed behind to take their chances, but their coverage was severely limited by the threat of retaliation.

‘Because of the dangers faced by local reporters, much of the coverage was provided by Pakistani journalists from outside the region who embedded with the military. Shamsul Islam Naz, secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, told CPJ that the military routinely suppressed stories about the impact of the fighting on the local populace. Other journalists interviewed by CPJ also noted the military’s tight restrictions on embedded reporting.’

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