For the second year in a row, CPJ ranked Syria the deadliest country in the world for journalists. Journalists also faced new threats in 2013 as radical Islamist groups strengthened their influence in rebel-held territory and rebel groups saw increased infighting. An unprecedented number of journalists were abducted during the year; many of them were believed to be held by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham. But the blame did not fall solely with extremist groups. Armed factions affiliated with both the regime and the rebels were implicated in anti-press violations including detention and killing. Throughout the year, as the groups succeeded in silencing dissenting voices with complete impunity, fewer journalists were willing to take on the risks of reporting from Syria. Many international journalists refused to enter the country, and local journalists fled into exile, fearing for their lives.
At least 61 local and international journalists were abducted in 2013 by various sides of the conflict, including government or pro-government militias; rebel or rebel-affiliated groups; and non-Syrian Islamic extremist groups, according to CPJ research. In 2012, CPJ documented at least 23 abductions of local and international journalists.Some of the journalists have since escaped or been released, but approximately 30 journalists remained missing in Syria at the end of 2013. Some of them are believed to be held by the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).
Syria was the deadliest country in the world for journalists this year, with at least 29 local and international journalists killed for their coverage of the conflict. The number includes French freelance photojournalist Olivier Voisin, who was injured in Syria and succumbed to his wounds in Turkey in February.
1. Iraq: 161
2. Philippines: 76
3. Syria: 61
4. Algeria: 60
5. Russia: 56
6. Pakistan: 53
7. Somalia: 52
8. Colombia: 45
9. India: 32
10. Mexico: 29
11. Brazil: 27
12. Afghanistan: 24
13. Turkey: 21
14. Sri Lanka: 19
15. Bosnia: 19
16. Rwanda: 17
17. Tajikistan: 17
18. Sierra Leone: 16
19. Bangladesh: 14
20. Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory: 12
CPJ's worldwide census, conducted on December 1, documented a slight decrease from last year in the number of journalists detained by the government.
One journalist, Abdul Raheem Kour Hassan, director of broadcasting for the local opposition station Watan FM, died while being held at Palestine Branch, a feared prison of Syria's Military Intelligence Security, which is known for its severe abuse of prisoners, Watan FM said.
Since the start of the conflict in 2011, more than 70 Syrian journalists have fled into exile, according to CPJ research.
This mass exodus of journalists mirrors the vast Syrian refugee crisis, with an estimated 40 percent of the Syrian population displaced from their homes. Though reasons for fleeing into exile vary, the results are universal: Exiled journalists are subject to fear, poverty, and uncertainty, while conditions for free expression deteriorate in the countries they leave behind, according to CPJ's annual exile report.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.