Journalist killed every 4.5 days, says UNESCO

Delphine Halgand, US director of Reporters Without Borders, speaks about Austin Tice, the only American journalist held captive in Syria, during the unveiling of a new banner calling for his release at the Newseum in Washington, DC on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 02 November 2016
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Journalist killed every 4.5 days, says UNESCO

PARIS: One journalist is killed every four-and-a-half days, according to a shocking report released by UNESCO on Wednesday.
During the last decade, 827 journalists have been killed while on the job, the UNESCO director-general’s report said.
The worst hit areas included Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Latin America is the next worst affected region, the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity report said.
Unsurprisingly, most deaths — 59 percent over the last two years of the 2006-2015 report — happen in conflict zones.
Perhaps most alarming was the increase in journalist deaths in Western Europe and North America, up from none in 2014 to 11 last year.
Local journalists are far more at risk than foreign journalists, accounting for 90 percent of the victims.
But there was a huge spike in foreign journalist deaths in 2014 with 17 killed compared to an average of four in previous years.
Last year saw a massive increase in online journalists being killed, with 21 compared to two in 2014. Almost half of those were Syrian bloggers.
The report found that more than 10 times as many men are killed than women — 195 to 18 in 2014/15 — while television journalists have overtaken print hacks as the most vulnerable.
The report noted that death is not the only harm journalists are exposed to.
“The extent of the risks faced by journalists is demonstrated by the 827 killings recorded by UNESCO over the course of ten years,” said the report.
“To this, one needs to add the countless other violations endured by journalists, which include kidnappings, arbitrary detention, torture, intimidation and harassment, both offline and online, and seizure or destruction of material.”
The report was requested by 39 member states of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council.


Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

Updated 24 June 2018
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Afghan leaders ‘optimistic’ over Taliban peace talks

  • The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but a government spokesman said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.
  • After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue.

KABUL: The Afghan government is confident of holding peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent surge of attacks by insurgents, a palace spokesman said.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi said the announcement last week of a brief truce by the Taliban over Eid, the increasing movement of extremists and some field commanders to government-held areas, and a call for peace by the Imam of Makkah and the Saudi monarch were the basis of the government’s optimism.

The Taliban last week rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to extend the truce, but Murtazawi said on Saturday that the government was optimistic the militants were willing to engage in peace talks.

“A new chapter has been opened and the broad support for a cease-fire and an end to the war are the causes for our optimism,” he told Arab News.

“The fact that Taliban announced a truce and their commanders came into towns and celebrated Eid with government officials are positive signs that the extremists will be ready for talks with the government.”

However, no contact has been established with leaders of the group since the militants called off their truce, Murtazawi said.

After ending the truce, the Taliban said its attacks against foreign troops and Afghans supporting them would continue. Scores of Afghan troops have been killed in a spate of attacks, including assaults on military bases where the insurgents joined government forces to celebrate Eid.

Some tribal chiefs and local officials are calling for “safe zones” where extremists can hold initial talks with the government, according to a local official who refused to be named.