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Violence against journalists has 'chilling effect on society' — OSCE

August 20, 2014, 16:35 UTC+3 VIENNA
In 2014, Ukraine has become the deadliest country for journalists, followed by Iraq, Syria and Pakistan
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© EPA PHOTO EPA/ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS

VIENNA, August 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Attacks on journalists working in Ukraine were denounced on Wednesday by a specialist on media freedom at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“Violence against journalists has a chilling effect on all of society and cannot be tolerated," representative Dunja Mijatovic said. "Much more needs to be done to end the circle of impunity. I call on the Ukrainian authorities to swiftly and thoroughly investigate these attacks and to do their utmost to ensure journalists’ safety.”

Safety for journalists remains a challenging task, she said, reacting to events in Ukraine as militants of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have released a video of an alleged execution of 40-year-old American journalist James Foley. The footage also showed Time magazine journalist Steven Sotloff, reported missing in Libya since last year.

The life of this journalist depends on US President Barack Obama's next decision, a militant in the video warned.

Mijatovic's comments address dangers that media professionals increasingly face. Reports about journalists killed while working are published by organizations such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The committee said in a recent report that 1,070 journalists had been killed since a first report about the death toll was released in 1992, to be followed by similar reports published on a regular basis.

In 2012, the death toll was the heaviest, the International Press Institute said, reporting the figure of 133. Reporters Without Borders numbered deaths at 43 in 2014, citing Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria as the most deadly countries for journalists.

Now, Ukraine has not merely joined the list of most dangerous countries - it has been placed first. According to the International News Safety Institute, seven media workers, including four from Russia, had been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Five of them died in the south-east, where the pro-Kiev forces have been conducting punitive operations.

Iraq, where six reporters were killed in the first half of 2014 and which had traditionally been known as the most dangerous place in the world, has retreated to the second position after Ukraine. Syria and Pakistan, with a death toll of five journalists each, are in third and fourth positions.

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