2009 among deadliest years for media –watchdog

BRUSSELS – 2009 was one of the worst for the targeted killing of media workers, with 113 lives lost, a leading watchdog said Thursday and called on governments to do more to protect reporters.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) designated the Philippines, Mexico and Somalia the most dangerous countries for media staff, following a spate of killings in recent months.

“The devastating massacre of 31 journalists and media staff in the Philippines in November and fresh violence against colleagues in Mexico and Somalia have made this a year of terrible bloodshed for media,” IFJ President Jim Boumelha said.

The group said a total of 137 media personnel were killed in 2009 –24 of them in accidents at work – up from 109 in 2008, despite a UN Security Council pledge three years ago to do more to protect people in the industry.

“The question is whether governments are listening or ready to take their responsibilities seriously,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

“There is no room for complacency and indifference. The crisis facing media threatens innocent lives and democracy itself,” he said in a statement.

The highest single national toll was 38 in the Philippines. Thirteen fatalities happened in Mexico, nine in Somalia, seven in Pakistan and six in Russia.

Killings in Iraq, long the most dangerous country for media staff, fell from 16 last year to five in 2009. –Agence France-Presse