137 media workers killed in ’09, group says

Associated Press / December 31, 2009

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BRUSSELS - This year has been one of the worst on record for the deliberate killing of reporters and media staff, an international journalists’ association said today.

A total of 137 journalists and media personnel were killed in 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists.

It said 113 were singled out because of their profession and 24 died accidentally.

The 113 targeted killings was one of the highest ever recorded, the organization said. It listed the Philippines, Mexico, and Somalia as the most dangerous countries for journalists this year.

The total 2009 death toll of 137 compares with a tally of 109 and 175 in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

“Last year’s drop in the murder rate of journalists has been short-lived,’’ Jim Boumelha, president of the organization, said in the statement.

“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.’’

The International Federation of Journalists represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries. Its death tally covers all people employed by media organizations who died in the line of duty, including interpreters and drivers.

Iraq was the most dangerous country for media workers during much of the past decade. It saw five media deaths in 2009, down from 16 in 2008, according to the group.

It said the most shocking statistics of 2009 point to the Philippines, where 38 journalists were killed, most of them victims of a massacre in Maguindano province on Nov. 23.

The organization listed these other countries with high numbers of media fatalities: Mexico (13), Somalia (9), Pakistan (7), and Russia (6).