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Iraq, India and Mexico most dangerous places for journalists in 2008, says IFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 31 December 2008 IFJ media release:

DANGEROUS ASSIGNMENTS

Iraq, India and Mexico most deadly as 2008 claims 104 killings in journalism, says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today said that the number of work related killings of journalists significantly dropped in 2008 following three years of record levels. Iraq tops the list of countries where reporters face the most serious risks, ahead of India and Mexico in a year which ended with 104 killings.

"This year's fall in the number of killings of journalists is good news," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "However, it provides little comfort to our colleagues around the world who continue to face risks to their lives for doing their job. Indeed, the report indicates that the number of killings in 2008 only average figures at the start of the war in Iraq."

Last year, an all time record 179 journalists and media workers were killed and this year 104 died. There are four more cases of killed journalists which are still under investigations to determine whether their deaths are connected to their work.

The IFJ report indicates a reduction both in targeted and accidental deaths. The IFJ has co-ordinated its report with the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

Iraq, which remains the world's deadliest country for journalists and media staff since the American-led invasion in 2003, also has this year's biggest fall in the murder rate of journalists, with 65 killings in 2007 against 16 this year. All those killed in 2008 were believed to be Iraqi nationals. It is estimated that 284 journalists have been killed in Iraq since April 2003.

According to the report's findings, local journalists covering national, local and community stories in peace time remain the main targets for deliberate attacks to intimidate and silence them.

"This report yet again makes it clear that journalists remain vulnerable to intolerance of independent media and governments' indifference to it which provides for impunity to media predators," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Governments must show real commitment to protect journalists for this year's down trend in their murder to continue."

As of December 31, the IFJ recorded the following information on the killing of journalists and media workers in 2008:

* Overall Killed 104
* Deaths in accidents 20

The deadliest region was Asia Pacific with 33 journalists and media workers killed. India has the region's highest death toll, following a surge in murders in insurgent-hit states in the country.

Deadliest countries:

* Iraq 16
* India 10
* Mexico 10

In 2007 Pakistan, Somalia and Mexico were the most dangerous countries after Iraq. For the second year, Mexico figures among the most dangerous places for journalists. The IFJ supports the running campaign against impunity in Latin America which was launched in Mexico.

Other hot spots:

* The Philippines 8
* Pakistan 7
* Thailand 4
* Georgia 4

The full IFJ report will be released in mid-January 2009.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

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