Sixty-nine journalists around the world were killed on the job in 2015. Twenty-eight of them were slain by Islamic terrorist groups, including al-Qaida and the Islamic State group (IS), according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The New York-based organization says Syria was once again the deadliest place for journalists, though the number of deaths there in 2015 — 13 — was lower than in previous years. “These journalists are the most vulnerable,” Joel Simon, the committee’s Executive Director said of reporters and broadcasters working in Syria and other areas awash with Islamic extremists. “This is, clearly based on the data, an incredible risk for journalists.”
Those killed by Islamic terror groups this year included eight journalists killed in an attack in Paris in January, at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures that offended Muslims. The group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack in which two terrorists massacred 12 people. They said it was in “revenge for the prophet.”
In October, two Syrian journalists, Fares Hamadi and Ibrahim Abd al-Qader were killed by IS terrorists.
While some of the deaths were among reporters covering conflict zones, in several countries journalists were also killed after reporting on sensitive subjects. At least 28 of the reporters who were killed had received threats before their deaths, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
In Brazil, Gleydson Carvalho, a radio broadcaster who often criticized local police and politicians for purported wrongdoing, was shot and killed while presenting his afternoon radio show in August. The committee documented six killings in Brazil this year — the highest it has ever recorded there.
Also among the 69 journalists killed were reporter Alison Parker and videojournalist Adam Ward, of Roanoke, Virginia, station WDBJ, who were fatally shot in August by former co-worker Vester Lee Flanagan II during a live broadcast. Their interview subject, Vicki Gardner, was wounded.
“Journalists are a target and this just confirms it,” Simon said of the data the committee compiled. “This is a global threat.”
Other countries where several journalists were killed included Bangladesh, where terrorist groups are suspected in the deaths of four bloggers and a publisher; and South Sudan, where five journalists traveling with a local official were killed in an ambush by unidentified terrorists. The deaths in Bangladesh included the February attack on Bangladeshi-American blogger and writer Avijit Roy on a crowded street in the capital city of Dhaka. The killings have raised concerns that religious extremism is taking hold in that traditionally moderate South Asian country.
Iraq, Yemen and Brazil also saw at least five journalists killed in 2015.
The Committee to Protect Journalists report warns that it is increasingly difficult to research the deaths of journalists in conflict-hit places such as Libya, Yemen and Iraq. As in Syria, IS controls parts of Iraq, where the organization says it has received reports of “dozens more journalists killed.”
The committee has been compiling reports of journalists’ deaths since 1992. The count includes the deaths of at least 17 journalists killed in combat or on other dangerous assignments or murdered for their work.
According to its own count, the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders says in a report released Tuesday that in 2015 at least 67 journalists were killed worldwide either while reporting or because of their work. It says the circumstances surrounding an additional 43 deaths remain unclear.