The FINANCIAL — According to the Press Emblem Campaign the number of journalists killed in the first three months has increased by 50 percent if compared with the same period in 2011.
The total number of journalists killed this year so far amounts to 31 of which 9 were killed in Syria alone. The tally for the first three months of 2011 amounted to 21 journalists killed.
"This is an alarming trend. The safety of journalists has deteriorated since thebeginning of the year. The heavy toll in Syria makes the country at the forefront of the most dangerous places for journalists,",said PEC Secretary-General Blaise Lempen.
Five foreign journalists and another 4 local journalists were killed in Syria since January 2012. Since March 2011, the conflict in Syria resulted in the killing of 11 media professionals. In addition there is no news about the fate of two Turkish journalists Adem Özköse and Hamit Coskun who disappeared two weeks ago.
According to activists, the Syrian government is trying to systematically arrest the “citizen journalists” across the country and to neutralize all those who document the brute force. PEC is in particular very concerned by the detention of Ali Mahmoud Othman and Marzen Darwish believed being subjected to torture.
Restrictions on media coverage by the Syrian authorities and attacks against media have led to the prolonged suffering of the Syrian people. If events were unfolded on a daily basis on TV screens of civilians massacred, pressure on governments could have led to the end of the conflict instead of it's appalling continuation.
Lempen added that if the ongoing violence is not put to an end then it is possible that there would be a repeat of the Iraqi scenario at large.
The PEC reminds international community that the peace plan put forward by the UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, and accepted in principle by Syria, calls to ensure freedom of movement and unhindered access for journalists.
PEC President Hedayat Abdelnabi stressed that states cannot in conflict zones apply their own practices over a wide spectrum of victims, there are binding convention in international law that should regulate conflicts in all circumstances and at all times including the distinction between combatants and civilians and freedom of information and expression. Abdelnabi called for binding guidelines in conflict zones including access, protection, and physical integrity of journalists.