Pakistan most dangerous country for journalists in 2014: IFJ

Pakistan remained the most dangerous country for the media, with 14 journalists killed in the year 2014. Next was Syria, where 12 died, according to an International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) statement.

The statement added that with 35 killings, the Asia Pacific region was the most dangerous region for journalists and media staff in the world for a second consecutive year.

The Middle East was the second most dangerous region with 31 fatalities and the Americas came in next with 26. Africa was fourth (17 killings) while Europe reported nine deaths.

According to the federation, the figures reflected the gravity of the safety crisis in the media and called on governments to ensure the safety and protection of journalists.

It said the brutal public beheading of journalists, including US freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff, by the Islamic State was a game changer.

According to IFJ president Jim Boumelha, failure to improve media safety would adversely impact the coverage of war, which would be poorer for lack of independent witnesses.

The IFJ further cited the reckless attacks on journalists in conflict zones like Ukraine, Syria and the Gaza Strip for the killings.

The number of journalists who died in targeted killings, bomb attacks or shootings around the world rose to 118 in 2014 from 105 the year before.

The Brussels-based organisation said 17 journalists died in accidents or natural disasters while on assignment.

Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories reported nine killings each, while eight journalists were killed in Iraq and Ukraine each.

Those killed included US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were both beheaded by Islamic State militants, who hadseized parts of Syria and Iraq.

"It is time for action in the face of unprecedented threats to journalists who are targeted not only to restrict the free flow of information, but increasingly as leverage to secure huge ransoms and political concessions through sheer violence,'' Boumelha said.

"As a result, some media organisations are weary of sending reporters to war zones out of fear for their safety, even of using material gathered by freelancers in these areas. Failure to improve media safety will adversely impact the coverage of war which will be poorer for lack of independent witnesses," he said.