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Islamic militants responsible for 40 per cent of journalist deaths in 2015

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By Jessica Goodfellow | Media Reporter

December 30, 2015 | 4 min read

A total of 69 journalists have died in 2015, with Islamic militant groups being held accountable for 40 per cent of those deaths.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found in its annual analysis that Islamic militant groups, such as Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda, were responsible for 28 journalist deaths worldwide in 2015.

Nine of these deaths took place in France, largely due to the attack at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January, for which Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility. France was second only to Syria as the most dangerous country for the press in 2015.

In October IS murdered two Syrian journalists, Fares Hamadi and Ibrahim Abd al-Qader, who were living in exile in Turkey.

Over the past four years, deaths in Syria have far outnumbered those anywhere else in the world. But the number of deaths recorded has been steadily declining, as 2015 saw 13 journalists killed, compared to 17 killed in 2014 and 29 killed in 2013. This is thanks partly to the reduced number of journalists working in Syria after local journalists fled into exile and many major international news organisations chose to no longer send reporters to the country.

CPJ reports that the lower number of confirmed killings in Syria also reflects the increased difficulty in researching and confirming cases there, as well as other conflict areas such as Libya, Yemen, and Iraq. The Committee has received reports of dozens more journalists killed, but is “unable to independently confirm that the individuals have in fact died and, if so, whether journalistic work was the reason”. A research mission to Iraq this year to investigate reports that up to 35 journalists from Mosul were missing, dead, or held captive by Islamic State left the CPJ able to confirm only a handful of the deaths due to the “militant group’s stranglehold on information about the city”.

Some 47 of the deaths that occurred this year were due to murder, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total journalist deaths this year; the highest percentage that the CPJ has recorded in the past five years. At least 28 of the 47 murder victims received threats before they were killed.

It was recorded that 17 journalists worldwide were killed in combat or crossfire, five of which were killed on dangerous assignment.

The most common beat covered by victims was politics, followed by war and human rights.

In 2015, broadcast reporter was the most dangerous job in media, with 25 killed.

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