Journalism has become the most vulnerable profession across the world as around 70 journalists have been killed so far only this year. Unfortunately, the numbers are likely to increase further in the last couple of months of 2012. As many as eight journalists were killed in 2011 for their work in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. This year has already surpassed those gigantic figures with at least 15 deaths only in the violence-wracked Syria. Syria has become one of the most dangerous countries on earth for journalists as rebels and security forces loyal to the regime continue to fight with each other in order to claim their hold in different areas.
The Messenger survey of news media casualties has recorded as many as 70 deaths of journalists and media workers in 2012 across the globe for the nature of their work. The numbers are shocking, indeed. Journalists are mainly targeted by rebels, terrorists and non-state actors for not highlighting their propaganda against the state or telling too much truth about their weaknesses and hypocrisies. In Syria, it is reported that journalists are mainly targeted by the security forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad for highlighting brutalities of the regime against pro-democracy people. It has been more than 17 months now to the uprising in Syria but the violence still continues with full force.
If we go by the nature of deaths of journalists across the globe, detractors have used different tactics to muzzle them at different places or countries. Some of them are shot, stabbed, bombed while some of them are also reported having been killed in the road accidents. It is pertinent to mention here that casualties of journalists in the road accidents are the third biggest cause of death. Some of the ill-fated journalists were even picked up by security agencies and beaten to death. Intelligence agencies of Pakistan are notorious for abducting journalists and subsequently killing them. These agencies have been charged a dozen of time for their involvement in abduction of journalists, torture and killing.
However, not a single case has been proved against them. Saleem Shahzad was one of the renowned journalists of Pakistan who was allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies last year for his stories against the powerful military of the country. After three days of his abduction, some passersby found his dead body in a canal in Jhelum – a garrison city of Pakistan. Supreme Court of Pakistan has also set up an inquiry commission to probe the killing but it failed to fix responsibility of the crime. Being a frontline ally of the United States on war against terror, Pakistan stands to face wrath of militants and terrorists; so these elements also target journalists for not towing their line.
We hope international organisations will look into security of journalists and come up with some viable solutions for protection of journo across the globe.