Brazil, Iraq, Pakistan lead 2014 journalist deaths

Brazil, Iraq and Pakistan had the highest number of the 27 journalists recorded as fatalities around the world in the first three months of 2014, according to a report by Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) released on Thursday.

Five journalists died on duty in Iraq, with Brazil and Pakistan joint-second, both with four members of the press killed while working, said the Geneva-based NGO, which has special consultative UN status.

However, the total for 2014 now stands at 28.

Band TV cameraman Santiago Andrade was killed in February

Brazilian cameraperson Santiago Andrade, who worked for TV Bandeirantes, was killed in February.

Associated Press photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus was reported killed in eastern Afghanistan on Friday after an attack by a police commander in which her colleague, Kathy Gannon, was also shot.

The total for the first quarter of this year is marginally down on the same period in 2013, when 30 journalists were killed.

The NGO has kept a record of journalists’ deaths, intentional and accidental, since 2007 and said that four journalists had been killed this year covering demonstrations, in Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan and Ukraine, with many others attacked or impeded in their coverage of uprising, including in Venezuela, which has seen two months of anti-government unrest.

PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen called on governments around the world to “respect the independence of journalists and to guarantee in an effective manner their protection during popular uprisings.”

A resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council urges:

“States to pay particular attention to the safety of journalists and media workers covering peaceful protests, taking into account their specific role, exposure and vulnerability.”

‘Deadliest place in Latin America’

The PEC report came as no surprise to the media community in Brazil, still reeling from the death of TV Bandeirantes cameraperson Santiago Andrade, who died from injuries sustained when a flare exploded next to his head during a violent protest in Rio de Janeiro on 10 February.

The other three deaths recorded in Brazil so far this year happened in February:

  • newspaper owner Pedro Palma was gunned down at his home in Rio;
  • cameraperson José Lacerda da Silva was shot dead in Rio Grande do Norte state; and
  • news anchor Geolino Lopes Xavier was killed in Bahia state.

The number of deaths in the first three months of 2014 is not far short of the total seen in 2013, when six journalists were killed, according to PEC.

Carlos Tautz, a journalist and coordinator of the Mais Democracia (“More Democracy”) research institute in Rio de Janeiro, says the majority of attacks are down to police officers:

“If you take into account the 120 or so attacks against journalists since June 2013, some 70-75% of those attacks are perpetrated by police, research shows,” Tautz told the Anadolu Agency. “If the state were capable of controlling its own police, you’d see a marked drop in aggression towards journalists.”

Many deaths at the hands of police officers have occurred when journalists have tried to investigate cases of corruption, according to researchers at the Institute.

Earlier this year, fellow NGO Reporters Without Borders labelled Brazil the most dangerous country in Latin America to be a journalist.

Written for Anadolu Agency  |  SÃO PAULO  |  4 April 2014

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