A Deadly Year for Journalists: 101 Killed So Far

From Associated Press

Los Angeles Times

November 14, 2004

BRUSSELS — More than 100 journalists have been killed since January, making 2004 the deadliest year for journalists in a decade, an international media group said.

The recent killings of three journalists in Ivory Coast, Nicaragua and the Philippines pushed this year's total to 101, the International Federation of Journalists said.

"2004 is turning out to be one of the most bloody years on record," said Aidan White, the federation's general-secretary. "The crisis of news safety has reached an intolerable level and must be addressed urgently."

The organization recorded 83 killings of media staff in 2003 and 70 in 2002. The most deadly year for journalists since the organization began compiling annual reports in 1988 was 1994, when 115 were killed, including 48 during the Rwandan genocide.

This year's latest victim was Gene Boyd R. Lumawag, photo editor for the independent Philippine news agency MindaNews, who was shot in the head Friday in the southern town of Jolo.

A colleague of Lumawag said she was told by army investigators that they suspected that an "urban terrorist group" from Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist organization linked to Al Qaeda and active in Jolo, killed the photographer.

On Tuesday, Maria Jose Bravo, 26, a reporter with La Prensa newspaper in Nicaragua, was fatally shot while covering election-related protests. A former mayor was arrested in connection with the killing.

Bravo's managing editor said the reporter had recently received threats from political party activists.

In Ivory Coast, Antoine Masse, a journalist with the pro-government newspaper Le Courrier d'Abidjan, was killed Nov. 7 while covering a confrontation between the Ivorian army, demonstrators and French forces west of Abidjan.

"All of these deaths are shocking reminders of the price journalists and media staff pay every day for press freedom and democracy," White said. "We must renew our efforts to end this cycle of violence."

The federation also highlighted the dangerous conditions in Iraq, where it said 62 journalists had been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

The Brussels-based organization is an umbrella group for journalists' unions in more than 100 nations.