Killing the Messenger 2015

A total of 60 media workers were killed in the first half of 2015, according to our biannual report, Killing the Messenger, which looks at the number of journalists killed for simply doing their job, how they died and where they worked.

For the first time ever, a peaceful Western democracy is listed in Killing The Messenger as the deadliest country in the world to be a journalist. The attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in France at the start of the year killed eight of our colleagues and cast a pall over the industry and freedom of expression in general.

"This year is shaping up to be worse than last year for journalists' deaths,” said INSI president Richard Sambrook.

“Again local journalists are under most threat – from investigating crime and corruption – and account for more than 90 per cent of those killed.”

Killing The Messenger reveals that South Sudan and Yemen were the second bloodiest countries for journalists in the first half of 2015, with six members of the news media killed in each place, while Iraq and Libya are close behind in joint fourth place with five journalists losing their lives in each.

A Libyan journalist told INSI about the situation for the press in his home country.

“I started receiving threats, which I ignored, because I did not expect my country to become a hostage to, and to be ruled by, armed militias. I was away at a workshop in Paris when gangs, which is a correct description of these militias, broke into my house by force. They threatened my 80-year-old mother, my wife and my five-year-old son with automatic weapons and took them to one of their camps, though they were released later that evening.”

His house was later burnt down and he was forced to flee to Tunisia.

“So far this year seven journalists have been decapitated by jihadist groups - a figure unthinkable a few years ago. The consequence of all this is that the public know less about the world than they should, and the killing of journalists is increasingly seen as a political act or means of censorship,” said Sambrook.

Syria, which has topped the list for the past three years, saw a decline in the number of media killed - down from 11 in 2014 to two during the first six months of 2015. The country has become a no-go zone for most reporters since the high profile beheadings of Japanese and American freelancers, which is thought to be the main reason for the decline.

The report found that more than half of the journalists killed died during peacetime and their murderers enjoyed near total impunity. INSI identified only five cases in which suspects in the killing of journalists were identified or any arrests made.

“Impunity remains an overarching issue for the international community,” said Sambrook. 

  • Read the full Killing The Messenger report
  • See our infographic highlighting the shocking numbers
  • Listen to a podcast from INSI's former director Rodney Pinder
  • Read what it’s like to be a local journalist reporting from Libya
  • Follow the discussion on our Twitter and Facebook pages using #KTM2015.