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2009 leaves one of worst records for targeted killings of journalists, says IFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - December 31, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for more action from governments and the United Nations to protect media as it announced a grim total of 137 journalists and media personnel killed during 2009. The number of targeted killings at 113 is one of the highest ever recorded says the IFJ, despite calls by the United Nations for governments to put an end to impunity.

In a year that ended with a rush of media killings, the Philippines, Mexico and Somalia are designated the most dangerous countries for journalists.

"Last year's drop in the murder rate of journalists has been short lived," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "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 IFJ list of work-related media killings is coordinated with the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and contains 137 journalists and media personnel who died during 2009 against 109 killings recorded in 2008. Of these, 24 were accidental deaths while journalists were at work.

In Iraq which has been for most of the decade the most dangerous country for journalists, media deaths are down to five killings in 2009 against 16 last year as the country's political crisis has eased.

But the shocking statistics of the year are found in the Philippines where 38 journalists and media staff were killed in 2009 - most of them victims of a massacre in the Maguindanao province on 23 November which claimed 31 media casualties.

The IFJ says this unprecedented attack and continued violence against media in other hot spots is a challenge to governments which in 2006 were told by the United Nations Security Council to take steps to protect journalists and media in conflict zones.

"The question is whether governments are listening or ready to take their responsibilities seriously," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "There is no room for complacency and indifference. The crisis facing media threatens innocent lives and democracy itself."

As of 31 December, the IFJ recorded the following information on killings of journalists and media staff in 2009:

Targeted killings: 113
Accidental deaths: 24
Overall killed: 137

The deadliest region, for the second year running, was Asia Pacific with 52 journalists and media personnel killed. The Philippines have the region's highest death toll, following the 23 November Maguindanao province which claimed 31 lives of media victims.

Other countries with high numbers of media fatalities are:

Mexico - 13
Somalia - 9
Pakistan - 7
Russia - 6

In 2008, Iraq, India and Mexico were the most dangerous countries in the world. Russia has this year broken into the top five most dangerous countries. The IFJ is supporting a campaign against impunity in the country and has launched an online database on cases of journalists' murders in collaboration with two leading Russian monitors of abuses against journalists; the Glasnost Defence Foundation and the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Conditions.

The full IFJ report on journalists and media staff killed in 2009 will be published mid January 2010.

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