Iraq has become the deadliest conflict for journalists to cover in nearly a quarter century, with the death toll rising to more than 60 since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, the Commitee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
With 22 journalists killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2005 and one more death reported for this year, the death toll among journalists from the Iraq conflict now totals 61, more than 75 percent of whom were Iraqis. That surpassed the 58 killed covering the 1993-96 conflict in Algeria, and is the highest journalist death toll reported for any conflict in the 24-year history of the New York-based advocacy group.
The committee's annual Attacks on the Press 2005 report, based on figures tabulated on Dec. 1, also noted that the United States ranks near the top among countries imprisoning journalists, tied with Myanmar for sixth place with five journalists held, three of whom have since been released. China topped the list with 32 journalists behind bars, followed by Cuba with 24, Eritrea with 15 and Ethiopia with 13.
The CPJ survey also pointed to an alarming trend of self-censorship in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil where crime and corruption are rampant while local authorities are weak. It also noted that independent journalists have been intimidated by assassinations in Lebanon, Libya and Iraq.
The survey, outlining media repression in more than 50 countries, includes specifics on murders, assaults, imprisonment, censorship and legal harassment of the press.
In a preface to the report, Paul Steiger, the CPJ chairman and Wall Street Journal managing editor, noted that "2005 was another terrible year for journalists in much of the world."
The report noted that 47 journalists were killed worldwide as a result of their work, bringing the two-year total to more than 100, making it the deadliest such period in a decade. In Iraq, insurgent attacks remained the leading cause of media deaths. The report added that 24 countries jailed a total of 125 journalists last year, reports AP.