On the face of it, with fewer journalists killed this year trying to bring us the news, 2014 was a good one for the safety of reporters. Think again.
“Rarely have reporters been murdered with such a barbaric sense of propaganda, shocking the entire world.”
This chilling phrase, from Reporters without Borders’ annual report, refers to the public execution of journalists beamed around the world by terrorists. While deaths may have fallen, violence against reporters has become more savage, and kidnappings have skyrocketed.
Sixty-six journalists have died around the world this year, including the gruesome decapitations of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Syria remains the most dangerous place to report from, followed by Palestine, Ukraine, Iraq and Libya.
More than 119 journalists have been taken hostage, up a third on 2013.
The main reasons for this are the rise of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Libya’s clashing militias, and the shooting and propaganda war in eastern Ukraine, where most kidnappings took place.
The number of journalists fleeing their countries into exile has doubled, and several governments are not shy of punishing wayward pens.
“This container represents the situation for detained journalists, 178 of them around the world – it refers to real events, in Eritrea for instance. Eritrea is bottom of the list when it comes to press freedom. It’s a tiny country in the Horn of Africa, where 30 journalists are being held in prison, in camps, in containers where they are sometimes tortured. It’s a country which also has 10,000 political prisoners,” says the Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire.
One positive development in the annual report by Reporters Without Borders is that fewer journalists have been killed in countries at peace, such as in India and the Philippines. But it is a crumb of comfort.