137 journalists dead this year, and counting...

I attended a talk by Rodney Pinder today. He's Director of the International News Safety Institute, set up in 2003 as a resource for journalists in potentially unsafe environments and as a lobbying tool for the protection of journalists in the field.

He had with him some very interesting facts:

- Almost 1,000 journalists and support staff have died in the last 10 years, most of them murdered.
- The five most deadly countries for journalists are Iraq, Russia, Colombia, Iran and the Philippines.
- So far this year 137 journalists have died, most were murdered.
- The British army only recently very reluctantly recognised the right of journalists to report unilaterally from the battlefield. Until then, they argued vehemently that embeds alone were sufficient.
- 90% of people who murder journalists are never prosecuted.
- 157 journalists have died in Iraq, most of them Iraqis.

Rodney Pinder reported from war zones for 30 years, rising to Director of Television at Reuters. He has buried many colleagues and had many lucky escapes himself.

I asked if he thought British and American troops had deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq. He said there was certainly 'plenty of evidence of American forces beating up and detaining Arab journalists' in particular. He added that it's commonplace in Israel for the military to 'target journalists - and they've been targeting them for some time'.

First we bombed Serbian TV during the Kosovo war, then Bush seriously considered bombing Al-Jazeera in Baghdad - and now journalists are routinely seen as the enemy in the battlefield, in Iraq, Israel and elsewhere.

I agree with Rodney that our own Ministry of Defensive behaved 'reprehensibly' in their recent treatment of ITN. Too often, the values of free speech and expression under which banner we stand are undermined by the actions of our governments and armed forces as we assert to fight for them.

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posted by Blamerbell @ 1:12 pm,

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