Journalists remain at great risk

New York Jan. 3. A total of 19 journalists were killed worldwide for their work in 2002, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). This number marks a sharp decrease from 2001 when 37 journalists were killed, eight of them while covering the war in Afghanistan. Of the 19 journalists killed in 2002, most were targeted in direct reprisal for their work, and their killers had not been brought to justice at year's end.

This is the lowest number of journalists killed in the line of duty that the CPJ has recorded since it began tracking the deaths in 1985. The dramatic drop is partially attributed to a decline in the number of world conflicts. According to the CPJ research, a direct correlation exists between the number of journalists killed on the job and the incidence of violent conflict, which can give those who target journalists the ability to do so with impunity because of the instability that war fosters.

In 1994, for example, 66 journalists were targeted for their work while civil wars raged in Algeria, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Another factor in the decreasing number of journalists' deaths may be because of the international attention that the Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and murder early last year garnered.

In the wake of Pearl's death, journalist safety became a priority for news organisations; many sent their staff to hostile-environment training, and reporters were better prepared in the field. At least two journalists survived being shot in the West Bank last spring because they were wearing flak jackets, while in Venezuela, bulletproof vests saved the lives of two more journalists.

Still, in 2002, journalists remained at great risk. In countries such as Russia, Colombia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, local journalists were murdered in reprisal for their reporting on crime and corruption, most of them with impunity. Cameramen and photographers were especially vulnerable to cross fire and targeting by military forces — five were killed in 2002, including two who were covering conflict in the West Bank.

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