Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

57 Journalists Killed in 2016

The importance of media cannot be overlooked in today’s world. Without media, it is really impossible to think of timely information sharing. And, in addition to the chief function of information sharing, media also has the significant role of having a check and balance within and generating pressure upon different organs of state. This is the reason many believe it to be the fourth organ of state; the other three organs being legislature, judiciary and executive.  
The significance of media has also made the roles and responsibilities of the journalists paramount. Without their support and endeavor, it is impossible for media to generate timely news reports and collect reliable information. They are the ones who suffer from different sorts of difficulties but make sure that their duties are performed properly. During wars, clashes, riots, protests, calamities, celebrations and controversial debates they make their presence sure and try to disseminate the news to the people. However, in doing so they, unfortunately, face many accidents as well and in the process may lose their lives or get injured. Some of them even lose their lives because of the very fact that they perform their duties and let the people know about the facts.  
In a recent report Reporters Without Borders (RWB) said that at least 57 journalists have been killed around the world in 2016 while doing their job. It explained that 19 were killed in Syria alone, followed by 10 in Afghanistan, nine in Mexico and five in Iraq. Almost all of those killed were locally-based journalists. Although it was fewer than the 67 killed in 2015, the group put the decrease down to “the fact that many journalists have fled countries that became too dangerous, especially Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Burundi”.
It said the withdrawal of reporters from these conflict-ridden countries had created “news and information black holes where impunity reigns”. Nine bloggers and eight media workers have also been killed this year. RWB said the fall in deaths was also the result of the “terror” imposed by what it called “press freedom predators” who close media outlets arbitrarily and gag journalists.
In Afghanistan, all of the 10 journalists killed were deliberately targeted because of their profession. Seven, including three women, were killed in a suicide attack in January on a minibus used by privately-owned Tolo TV.
It is also important to observe that many journalists opted to leave the country this year and migrated for their safety. There is no proper mechanism in place to ensure the safety of the journalists. They can be easily targeted by militants and in many cases they have to face violence and warnings from authoritative individuals within the parliament or the government itself.
The societies that suffer from political instability and experience wars, and disturbances and do not recognize the worth of true knowledge and information tend to forget the vital responsibility of guarding the rights of the journalists. The journalists in such societies tend to suffer from different sorts of discriminations and, unfortunately, even lose their lives.
Mostly conflict zones are dangerous for the journalists. In order to provide true and timely information, the journalists have to move into or close to the places where wars and conflicts happen. They, therefore, put their lives at risk and try to fulfill their responsibilities. Different groups, organizations or countries in such zones have to be very careful about the rights of journalists and make sure they are not targeted. However, that does not seem to happen and many journalists lose their valuable lives every year. Moreover, because of the influence and approach of different extremist networks, the number of journalists losing their lives in the peaceful countries is also alarming.
The situation for Afghan journalists does not seem to be getting any better. The rising insecurity and the lack of attention to the plight of the journalists has led to some very difficult circumstances that the journalists have to go through so as to perform their duties. Even the foreign journalists are facing serious difficulties in fulfilling their responsibilities. Afghan authorities do not have any other option but to ask the journalists to limit their travels and their movements. If the journalists are not able to move freely and collect information easily how would they be able to perform their duties. Afghan authorities instead of limiting the movement of the journalists must ensure their security and the overall security in the country. 
Media Coordination Committee (MCC), a newly established organization, having the responsibility to ensure the safety of journalists and their media activities has also raised concerns over inaction of relevant authorities to investigate the cases of violence against reporters in Afghanistan. It is imperative that Afghan authorities must cooperate with the institutions like MCC, design better mechanism for the security of journalists so that they are able to perform their duties properly and keep the people informed and aware of their surroundings.