71 journalists were killed in 2013
2013 in numbers
Journalists killed: 71
Journalists arrested: 826 (-6%)
Journalists threatened or physically attacked: 2160 (+9%)
Journalists kidnapped: 87 (+129%)
Journalists who fled their country: 77 (+5%)
Media assistants killed: 6
Netizens and citizen-journalists killed: 39 (-17%)
Bloggers and netizens arrested: 127 (-12%)
39% in a war zone
4% women journalists
The annual toll of journalists killed in connection with
their work was again very high in 2013, although this year’s number,
71, was a slight fall (-20%) on last year’s, according to the latest
round-up of freedom of information violations that Reporters Without
Borders issues every year.
There was also a big increase (+129%) in abductions and
the overall level of violations affecting news providers continued to be
“Combatting impunity must be a priority for the
international community, given that we are just days away from the 7th
anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1738 on the safety of
journalists and that there have been new international resolutions on
the protection of journalists,” Reporters Without Borders
secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
The regions with the largest numbers of journalists
killed in connection with their work were Asia (with 24) and the Middle
East and North Africa (with 23). The number of journalists killed in
sub-Saharan Africa fell sharply, from 21 in 2012 to 10 in 2013 – due to
the fall in the number of deaths in Somalia (from 18 in 2012 to 7 in
2013). Latin America saw a slight fall (from 15 in 2012 to 12 in 2013).
Syria, Somalia and Pakistan retained their position among the world’s five deadliest countries for the media
(see below). They were joined this year by India and the Philippines,
which replaced Mexico and Brazil, although the number of journalists
killed in Brazil, five, was the same as last year. Two journalists were
killed in Mexico, while three others disappeared. The return of the
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to power and new government
pressure on the media contributed to a sharp increase in self-censorship
in Mexico. An increase in self-censorship was probably also the reason
for the fall in the number of journalists killed in other countries.
39% of the deaths occurred in conflicts zones,
defined as Syria, Somalia, Mali, the Indian province of Chhattisgarh,
the Pakistani province of Balochistan and the Russian republic of
Dagestan. The other journalists were killed in bombings, by armed groups
linked to organized crime (including drug trafficking), by Islamist
militias, by police or other security forces, or on the orders of
Of the 71 journalists killed in 2013, 37% worked for the
print media, 30% for radio stations, 30% for TV and 3% for news
websites. The overwhelming majority of the victims (96%) were men.
The number of journalists killed in connection with their work in 2013 fell by 20% compared with 2012, but 2012 was an “exceptionally deadly
” year with a total of 88 killed. The numbers were 67 in 2011, 58 in 2010 and 75 in 2009. The fall in 2013 was also offset by an increase in physical attacks and threats
by security forces and non-state actors. Journalists were
systematically targeted by the security forces in Turkey, in connection
with the Gezi Park protests, and to a lesser extent in Ukraine, in
connection with the Independence Square (“Maidan”) protests.
More than 100 cases of harassment and violence against
journalists were registered during the “Brazilian spring” protests, most
of them blamed on the military police. Colombia and Mexico also saw
major protests that gave rise to police violence against media
personnel. Journalists were among the victims of the political unrest in
Egypt in 2013, sectarian unrest in Iraq, and militia violence in Libya.
In Guinea, journalists where regularly threatened, by both government
and opposition, during protests prior to the elections. India,
Bangladesh and Pakistan also saw an increase in threats and attacks
against journalists, as well as murders.
There was a big increase in the number of journalists kidnapped
(from 38 in 2012 to 87 in 2013). Most of the cases were in the Middle
East and North Africa (71) followed by sub-Saharan Africa (11). In 2013,
49 journalists were kidnapped in Syria and 14 in Libya. Abductions
gained pace in Syria in 2013 and became more and more systematic in
nature, deterring many reporters from going into the field. Foreign
journalists were increasingly targeted by the government and by
Islamists groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and
Jabhat Al-Nosra, but their Syrian colleagues were the most exposed. At
least 18 foreign journalists and 22 Syrian news providers are currently
abducted or missing.
Threats and violence forced a growing number of journalists to flee abroad.
The violence of the conflict in Syria led to the departure of at least
31 professional and citizen-journalists in 2013. Many of them are now in
Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt, destitute and vulnerable. Victims of
xenophobia and accused of being Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt,
interrogated and threatened by the security services in Jordan, and
threatened by pro-Assad militias in Lebanon, their situation often
continues to be extremely precarious.
Despite the moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani’s election
as Iran’s president in June 2013, and despite his promises of reform,
12 Iranian journalists fled the country in 2013 to escape government
Five Eritrean journalists fled abroad in 2013 to escape
their country’s tyrannical regime, refusing to be President Issaias
Afeworki’s propaganda slaves or fearing that they could be arrested and
held incommunicado in one of the country’s appalling prison camps.
The exodus of journalists continued in Somalia. Most of
them end up in neighbouring Kenya, where their safety and living
conditions declined in 2013 because of an increase in xenophobia
resulting from the military offensive that Kenya launched in Somalia in
2011 and because of the uncertainty surrounding the UN Refugee Agency’s
registration of Somali requests for protection.
At least 178 journalists are in prison right now. China, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Syria continue to be world’s five leading jailers of journalists
(see below), as they were in 2012. The number of imprisoned journalists
is largely unchanged in China, Eritrea, Iran and Syria and has fallen
somewhat in Turkey. Legislative reforms
in Turkey have led to the conditional release of about 20 journalists
but fall far short of what is needed to address the judicial system’s
These violations of freedom of information target news providers in the broadest sense,
citizen-journalists and netizens, as well as professional journalists.
In addition to the 71 professional media fatalities, 39
citizen-journalists and netizens were killed in 2013 (down slightly from
47 in 2012), above all in Syria. These citizen-journalists are ordinary
men and women who act as reporters, photographers and videographers,
trying to document their daily lives and the political violence and
persecution to which they are exposed.
Additionally, Reporters Without Borders is recommending
the creation of a group of independent experts or a monitoring group
attached to the UN secretariat with the task of monitoring respect by
member states for their obligation to ensure impartial and effective
prosecution of cases of violence against journalists. Finally, RWB is
calling on the UN and member states to promote procedures for protecting
and resettling news providers and human rights defenders who are in
danger in transit countries after fleeing abroad, and to create a
specific alert mechanism.
To compile these figures, Reporters Without Borders
used the detailed information it gathered while monitoring violations of
freedom of information throughout the year. Only journalists or
netizens killed in connection with the collection and dissemination of
news and information were counted in the number of dead. Reporters
Without Borders did not include cases of journalists and netizens killed
in connection with their political or civil society activism, or for
other reasons unrelated to the provision of news and information.
Reporters Without Borders continues to investigate deaths in which the
evidence so far available has not allowed a clear determination.
The five deadliest countries for journalists
Iran: awaiting reform
20 journalists and 51 netizens imprisoned
Hassan Rouhani, a moderate conservative candidate backed
by the reformists, was elected president with 51 per cent of the votes
on 15 June. Despite his promises of reform and despite the release of
some prisoners of conscience, including a few journalists and netizens,
most of the news providers who were in prison before his election – the
majority of them arrested in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed
reelection as president in June 2009 – are still there.
At least 76 journalists have been arrested since the
start of 2013, 42 of them since June. Seventeen others have been given
sentences ranging from one to nine years in prison. Twelve newspapers
and magazines have been suspended or forced to stop publishing under
pressure from the authorities. Inhuman treatment of prisoners of opinion
continues to be common. Many detainees are still denied medical care
despite being very ill or in poor physical and mental health as a result
of their imprisonment.