The News Minute | December 31, 2014 | 03:12 pm IST
Brussels: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Wednesday termed Pakistan the most dangerous country for media persons. Fourteen journalists lost their lives in Pakistan this year.
In a statement issued by the IFJ, Asia Pacific region had the highest death toll with 35 killings, making it the most dangerous region for journalists and media staff in the world for the second consecutive year.
The Middle East is the second most dangerous region, which witnessed 31 fatalities, followed by America with 26.
Africa is fourth with 17 killings and Europe stands fifth with nine deaths.
The Federation warns that these new figures are a reminder of the gravity of the safety crisis in media and renews its urgent call to governments to make the safety and protection of journalists their priority.
It cites the brutal public beheading of many journalists including US freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State (IS) militants as a game changer in the governments' attitude to media protection.
"It is time for action in the face of unprecedented threats to journalists who are targeted not only to restrict the free flow of information, but increasingly as leverage to secure huge ransoms and political concessions through sheer violence," IFJ president Jim Boumelha said.
"Failure to improve media safety will adversely impact the coverage of war which will be poorer for lack of independent witnesses," Boumelha said.
Furthermore, the IFJ says another cause for loss of life to journalists in 2014 has been the reckless attacks on them and media premises in conflict zones like Ukraine, Syria and the Gaza Strip.
In the meantime, the organised crime's ruthless rule of terror and violence continues to cast a shadow over journalism in Latin America, especially in Honduras and Mexico, where journalists pay the ultimate price for reporting on issues such as corruption, drug trafficking.
"Many have paid the ultimate price this year and lost their lives to the spiralling violence which is engulfing media, fuelled by the climate of impunity," IFJ general secretary Beth Costa said.
In 2014, the IFJ intensified its safety work, including training programmes for journalists from high risks countries, such as the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It also joined partnership with the Council of Europe to establish an online safety platform for journalists and is testing new cutting edge safety tools to maintain permanent contact with journalists while on assignments in dangerous zones.