33 scribes killed in Asia-Pac in '05: IFJ

International Federation of Journalists said Pakistan, India and Bangladesh remained most dangerous areas for scribes.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2006 11:52 IST

Thirty-three journalists were killed in the Asia-Pacific region last year, with the Philippines again the most deadly country, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said on Monday.

"The Philippines, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh remained the most dangerous areas, but a worrying trend of violence has also emerged in Thailand," the IFJ said in its 2005 annual report.

"The majority of victims in the Asia-Pacific region were not killed in crossfire between warring groups, or by accident while they were reporting in conflict areas.

"Most of (them) were directly targeted and killed because they were journalists."

The IFJ attributed the deaths to "a culture of violence and intimidation directed towards journalists in Asia."

The death toll included 10 in the Philippines, six in Pakistan, four in Sri Lanka, three in India, three in Bangladesh and two each in Afghanistan, Nepal and Thailand, the report said.

"2005 was a year of tragedy and the targeting of journalists in the Asia-Pacific region," said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

The death toll in the Philippines was second only to that in war-torn Iraq, where 35 journalists were killed.

A total of 150 journalists died during the year in wars, assassinations, natural disasters and accidents while on duty, the IFJ said.

Of the total, 89 were killed "in the line of duty" -- many singled out for assassination by killers working for political extremists, paramilitary forces or criminals.

Among the others, 48 died on assignment in a military plane crash in Iran.

Fewer than 10 per cent of the cases of deliberate killings of journalists resulted in serious investigations by the authorities, the IFJ said, with only a handful of killers ever brought to trial.

A combination of police corruption, judicial incompetence and political indifference created a culture of neglect over media deaths, the report said.

"Impunity in the killing of journalists remains the intolerable scandal of our times that can no longer be ignored by the international community," said IFJ general secretary Aidan White.

The IFJ has called for action by the UN Security Council and has pressed UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to mobilise governments to act against the targeting and killing of journalists.

The Brussels-based IFJ represents some 500,000 journalists in 110 countries.

First Published: Jan 23, 2006 11:47 IST