Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Media deaths hit highest level in a decade last year

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

A total of 63 journalists and five of their assistants were killed carrying out their work last year, the highest number for a decade.

Iraq remains the most dangerous country for media workers, with 29 journalists and assistants killed there last year.

China tops the poll as the country in which the most journalists are in prison and Nepal has the highest annotated total of censorship, according to the annual report on press freedom published yesterday by the Paris-based organization Reporters sans Frontieres.

Since the start of hostilities in Iraq in March 2003, 76 journalists and their assistants -- fixers, interpreters and drivers -- have been killed. While the majority died in explosions and attacks by insurgents, the US army is listed as responsible for three deaths.

The Philippines, with seven deaths, is the country with the second-highest total of media fatalities. There were at least two media deaths in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Russia, Somalia and Sri Lanka. Two journalists died in Mexico investigating drug smuggling and petrol racketeering. There have also been many physical attacks on journalists doing their work in Nigeria and Peru.

With 32 journalists jailed, China has the worst record for imprisoning reporters. The survey also suggests that China jails most "cyber-dissidents," with 62 behind bars for producing independent news Web sites or blogs. At least 807 journalists were arrested worldwide.

The death total is the highest since 1995, when 64 journalists were killed, 22 in Algeria. More journalists have died in Iraq than were killed in the Vietnam war between 1955 and 1975.

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