Geneva: The number of journalists killed since January to April 2023 has fallen compared to the same period last year, observed Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (being celebrated on 3 May across the world with the theme of freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights).
Since 1 January, 16 media workers have been killed, the lowest number in the past 15 years, according to the same criteria. “This figure is still too high, but if this trend continues, it is finally good news,” said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC (https://pressemblem.ch/casualties.shtml).
During the same period in 2022 (marked by the initial weeks of the Russian offensive on Ukraine), 56 journalists were killed (the whole year reported 116 casualties in 29 countries). The first four months
of 2023 represent a decline of 71%, added Lempen. The status quo in the fighting in Ukraine partly explains this sharp decrease where only one journalist has been killed so far this year in Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities have also taken measures to limit media access to combat zones. However, the PEC is concerned about the reported resumption of larger-scale clashes in Ukraine and reminds all
sides that media workers are protected as civilians by the Geneva conventions.
Till date this year, two journalists have been killed in Afghanistan as well as in Cameroon, Haiti and Mexico. One journalist each was killed in Bangladesh, Canada, USA, Guatemala, India, Paraguay and
Ukraine. The case of a journalist who died in a suspicious manner in Rwanda remains under investigation. The PEC strongly condemns these killings and calls for those responsible to be identified and brought to justice.
Despite the improvement in the number of victims, there are various situations of great concern as press freedom continues to decline in Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Iran and Russia. The arrest of a Wall Street Journal scribe by the Russian security services on 30 March marks a further escalation in the repression of the media in Russia.
PEC has called for the immediate release of Evan Geshkovich. It also denounces the obstruction of the work of Palestinian journalists during the past weeks of violence in the occupied territories. A dozen Palestinian journalists have been assaulted or injured by Israeli security forces. Deploring the fact that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been held in a British prison for four years without trial, PEC reiterates its demand for his release on humanitarian grounds and that the charges against him be
dropped by the US.
PEC’s south Asia representative Nava Thakuria informed that Afghanistan under the Taliban rule continues to be dangerous for the media fraternity. Besides two casualties (Husein Naderi and Akmal
Nazari) the country has witnessed the mass exodus of media persons to foreign countries for security reasons. Bangladesh and India have also maintained the tag of risky nations for journalists as they lost
Ashiqul Islam and Shashikant Warishe respectively in this period. Many journalists have been imprisoned in Myanmar by the military rulers.