The New York-based press watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), is working to promote press freedom in the world. Recently CPJ launched a global report in which it was stated that at least 19 journalists were brutally killed in 2011. A total number of 864 journalists were killed since 1992 and at present 145 journalists are in prison across the world. The report pointed out that Iraq alone had 92 unsolved murder cases of journalists and thus atop the list since the CPJ first compiled its report in 2008. Somalia is in the second position with 10 unsolved murder cases of journalists while the Philippines is in the third with 56 cases.
The ill-fated 19 journalists who were killed in 2011 and the motive behind whose killings were confirmed are —
Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan;
Nasrullah Khan Afridi, Pakistan;
Chris Hondros, Libya;
Tim Hetherington, Libya;
Karim Fakhrawi, Bahrain;
Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri, Bahrain;
Anton Hammerl, Libya;
Sabah al-Bazi, Iraq;
Muammar Khadir Abdelwahad, Iraq;
Luis Emanuel Ruiz Carrillo, Mexico;
Libya Al-Hurra, Libya;
Jamal al-Sharaabi, Yemen;
Ali Hassan al-Jaber, Libya;
Mohamed al-Hamdani, Iraq;
Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, Egypt;
Le Hoang Hung, Vietnam;
Gerardo Ortega, the Philippines;
Lucas Mebrouk Dolega, Tunisia;
and Wali Khan Babar, Pakistan.
However, 15 other journalists were also killed in 2011, but the motive of their killings has not yet been confirmed.
While conflict and war have provided the backdrop to much of the violence against the press over the last decade, the majority of the journalists killed since 1993 did not die in crossfire. Instead, a good number of them were kidnapped and murdered often in direct reprisal for their reporting. According to CPJ statistics, only 60 journalists died in crossfire while 277 were murdered in retribution for their work since 1993. CPJ has recorded only 21 cases since 1993 in which the person or persons who were accused of murdering a journalist were arrested and prosecuted. That means in 94 percent of the cases, those who murder journalists are doing so with impunity. In most of the cases, the journalists were murdered for covering reports on sensitive issues, such as corruption or human rights abuses. In 23 cases since 1993, journalists were taken alive by militants, criminals, guerrillas or government forces, and subsequently killed. A few of them were abducted for ransom rather most of them were kidnapped for political reasons.
Odhikar, a non-government human rights organization based in Bangladesh, mentioned in one of its document that from 1 January 2004 to 30 April 2011, 15 journalists were killed, 740 injured, 299 assaulted, 911 threatened, 45 arrested and 9 were abducted across the country. Though the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees freedom of press in its Article 39 (b), continuous attacks on journalists are hampering their duties, which is unacceptable.
As a journalist, I hope all the journalists of the world will be united and proactive to stop violence against media. Because violence against the media means violence against truth, human rights and the conscience of a nation.