22 March 2007
News from the Media Scene:
Iraq: The deadliest country for the press

Four years after American forces invaded Iraq, journalists in this country are being killed in unprecedented numbers. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a total of 97 journalists have died in the line of duty since the armed conflict began on 20 March 2003, making it the bloodiest conflict for the media in the last 25 years. The Algerian conflict of the 1990s, which claimed the life of 58 journalists, is second.

Baghdad province has been the most dangerous location for the press with 56 journalists and 27 media workers killed.

CPJ announced 14 deaths of news men and women in 2003, 24 in 2004, 23 in 2005 and 32 in 2006. This last figure is the largest annual death toll ever recorded by CPJ in a single country. During the first year of the hostilities most of the casualties were foreign reporters but as the conflict turned increasingly into a civil war, the bulk of deaths involved Iraqi journalists. According to CPJ, more than 80 percent of all media deaths since 2003 have been Iraqis working for the burgeoning national press. Each of the four journalists killed so far in 2007 were Iraqis as were all but two of the journalists and media workers killed in 2006. Besides, murder seems to be the leading cause of journalist deaths. According to CPJ, 70 percent of the media people killed were targeted for assassination.

In addition to the Iraqis, journalists from 16 countries (Algeria, Australia, Argentine, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Palestine, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, UK and the USA) have been killed in Iraq.

Also, US forces have reportedly claimed 16 lives (14 journalists and two media workers).

The organisations tracking media casualties do not record the same figures. The Word Association of Newspapers reports 100 killings. CPJ numbers (97) are the lowest. INSI's (International News Safety Institute) laments the loss of 187 journalists and support staff since the war was launched. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announces 153 deaths.

Details of each of the deadly incidents in Iraq can be obtained from the World Association of Newspapers website at http://www.wanpress.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=1 or INSI website at http://www.newssafety.com/casualties/iraq.htm or other organisations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists http://www.cpj.org, the International Federation of Journalists http://www.ifj.org, Reporters Without Borders http://www.rsf.org or the International Press Institute http://www.freemedia.at/cms/ipi