Saturday, 28 November 2020

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68 journalists killed in 2016 simply for doing their jobs

 UNESCO DG-Report - illustration image

7 November 2016 – Truth is seen as an option, not a necessity in the political discourse, was stated this morning at a conference hosted by the International Federation of Journalists in Brussels, where the increasingly difficult climate for journalists was being debated.

Contrary to what might be common belief, journalists are not only killed in war zones but increasingly in countries at peace. "This is why prevention is such a critical element", stressed UNRIC Director Deborah Seward. 

Freelance journalists are the most targeted, a new UNESCO report shows.  The 2016 UNESCO Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity offers an overview of the killings of journalists condemned by the Director-General in 2014-2015. In 2015, 115 journalists lost their lives. So far, in 2016, 68 journalists have been killed simply for doing their jobs.

When a journalist dies, the family is left behind

The conference also featured moving testimonial by Fabienne Mercier Nerac who lost her husband, journalist Frédéric Nerac, in Iraq. “Through statements by witnesses, our family did get evidence that he was killed”, she said. “However, his body was never found, so there is still this little part that lacks closure”.

For some, closure can be found in the Normandy town of Bayeux, where the 2,000 journalists killed on duty worldwide since 1944 are remembered in a dedicated park. The memorial also reminds its visitors that some reporters have lost their lives for tragically banal reasons. In 1991, for example, cameraman Nicholas Della Casa and soundman Charles Maxwell, filming the plight of the Kurds in Iraq for the BBC, were shot dead after an argument over fees with a Turkish guide. Ms. Nerac also told the conference that she was working to establish Reporters Missing in Action (RMIA), a foundation that will work on behalf of journalists who have disappeared or who have been killed and whose bodies have not been found. 

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