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When Journalists Are Killed, Prosecutions Are Rare

Maguindanao massacre, 2009. No one has been convicted in the attack, one of the deadliest in the Philippines, which left at least 32 journalists dead.Photograph by Rolex dela Peña/European Pressphoto Agency

Murderers often go unpunished.

In at least 787 cases, journalists have been directly targeted for murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group has found only 34 cases in which everyone has been convicted. The numbers exclude journalists killed in combat and on other dangerous assignments.Iraq and the Philippines have the highest numbers of journalists murdered. Since 1992, when the Committee to Protect Journalists began tracking the data, no murder case has been fully resolved in the Philippines, Syria or India.Countries with the most journalists killed

Iraq 174 111 110
Syria 95 12 12
Philippines 77 75 68
Somalia 59 41 1 34
Pakistan 58 33 30
Russia 56 36 2 32
India 39 26 24
Brazil 38 36 4 25
Mexico 36 33 1 30
Afghanistan 29 12 4 8
Bangladesh 20 19 16
Sri Lanka 19 10 10
Nigeria 10 8 7
South Sudan 5 5 5
The New York Times |Source: Committee to Protect Journalists
Note: Prosecution status is unknown for some cases

David Gilkey was one of 26 American journalists killed.

On June 5, Mr. Gilkey, an award-winning photojournalist for NPR, and his translator, Zabihullah Tamanna, were killedwhen the Taliban attacked their vehicle in Marja, Afghanistan. No suspects have been apprehended. Mr. Gilkey is one of two American journalists killed in the 15-year Afghan conflict. In a video about his work in Haiti in 2010, Mr. Gilkey described the importance of working in dangerous places. “It’s not just reporting. It’s not just taking pictures,” he said. “It’s, do those visuals, do the stories, do they change somebody’s mind enough to take action?”

David Gilkey

Zabihullah Tamanna

European Pressphoto Agency


The Taliban have repeatedly targeted journalists. Last year, the group threatened two of Afghanistan’s most popular news organizations.

Most journalists killed are local.

At least 88 percent of all journalists killed were covering stories in their own countries. Nearly all were men, although at least 80 female journalists have died. At least 40 percent of those murdered had been threatened. The deaths of media workers, who include translators, drivers and guards, have been tracked since 2003. At least 55 have been killed in Iraq. However, there is less information about the links between their deaths and work than there is for journalists.

Local and foreign journalists killed since 1992

The New York Times |Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

More journalists have been killed in Iraq than in any other country.

Iraq leads the list of 97 countries where journalists have been killed for doing their work. At least 149 local and 23 foreign journalists have been killed there.The Islamic State has been responsible for the deaths of at least 24 journalists since 2013, mostly in Iraq, but also in Syria, Turkey and France. The group began abducting journalists for ransom, and many were tortured before being killed.James Foley, who was abducted in 2012 and beheaded in August 2014, was the first American journalist to be killed by the Islamic State in Syria. The militants also claimed responsibility for the death of Ruqia Hassan, the first female journalist killed by the group.

Countries where journalists were killed

The New York Times |Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

Syria has the second-highest number of journalist killings in the past 24 years, closely followed by the Philippines, where journalists have long been threatened. The Philippines has one of the highest numbers of killings and one of the lowest rates of conviction, even though there is no current war or conflict there. The Philippines’ president-elect, Rodrigo Duterte, said last month, “Just because you’re a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination.” He justified the killings of some local reporters by saying they might have been corrupt.However, he recently changed his stance and said, “I do not condone nor tolerate killing of journalists, regardless of the motive of the killers or the reason for their killing.

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