100 Journalists Killed in 2006, the Most Brutal Year in the Modern Media’s History
With 100 journalists killed, 2006 was the most savage and brutal year in the history of the modern media. The figure is largely due to the targeting of local journalists in Iraq, which saw 46 journalists killed. However, the murder of journalists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Mexico, and Sri Lanka also added to the overall figure, according to the International Press Institute.
Forty-eight journalists were killed in the Middle East and North Africa region. The murder and kidnapping of local journalists made reporting in Iraq the most dangerous assignment ever handed to the media. In Lebanon, where one journalist was killed, conflict and civil unrest undermined a vibrant media. Elsewhere, in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria, a free press is almost entirely absent; while in Egypt and Yemen journalists were prosecuted.
In Europe, where two journalists were killed, the murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, highlighted the dangers of reporting in Russia, and questioned the authorities’ desire to investigate such crimes. Since 1997, IPI has recorded the killing of 43 journalists in Russia. The often-violent controversy over the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed saw journalists arrested and prosecuted; one journalist was murdered in Sudan reportedly for writing on the subject. The controversy led to renewed attempts to introduce a "defamation of religions" clause, which appeared in UN documents, including one on terrorism.
In Asia, 29 journalists were killed, ten of them in the Philippines. China heavily censors Internet activity, aided by international corporations, and violent assaults on journalists rose with two killings this year. Pakistan saw four journalists killed and numerous abductions. The media’s struggle in Nepal led to political change, but reforms are still needed. With five journalists murdered, Sri Lanka’s violent past is returning.
There were four killings of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa. Restrictive laws suffocated the media in Zimbabwe; while the prosecution of journalists in Ethiopia has almost silenced independent journalism. Severe media problems exist in the Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo where one journalist was killed; there were also police raids on media outlets in Kenya and Nigeria. In the Australasian and Oceanic region, the coup in Fiji highlighted the fragility of press freedom.
In the Americas, 17 journalists were killed, including two in the Caribbean. Mexico, with seven journalists killed, remains the region’s most dangerous country and Cuba, with 25 journalists imprisoned, is the biggest jailer. There were two deaths in Venezuela, where the government is undermining private media, particularly broadcasting. In the United States, a series of criminal cases involving protection of journalists’ sources reinforced calls for a federal shield law. In Colombia, three journalists were killed for reporting on various issues.