Paying with their lives - Journalists killed in line of duty

THIS year — June 26 — marked the 20th anniversary of the murder of Veronica Guerin by drug criminals. Five years later, in September 2001, another journalist, Martin O’Hagan, was murdered by the Loyalist Volunteer Force. He was the only journalist to be killed in Northern Ireland’s 30 years of tit-for-tat terror, which, compared with the fate of journalists in many of the world’s conflict zones, is pretty remarkable.

Paying with their lives - Journalists killed in line of duty

However, more than 800 journalists have been killed in the line of duty over the past decade and in the majority of cases no one is held accountable. This year alone, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 72 journalists died because of their career choice. Those deaths touched double figures — 14 — in Syria and because of the Charlie Hebdo massacre nine journalists died violently in France. Poland, with one death, was the only other EU state to record such a death.

The CPJ will, tomorrow, through UNESCO, release its annual report which will include updates on killings of journalists and the status of subsequent — if any — investigations. November 2 is International Day to End Impunity and was established by the UN in 2013 in commemoration of Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont, the two French journalists who were assassinated in Mali on November 2 that year.

Each of these deaths is a tragedy but each also shows the power of the truth — especially if that truth exposes tyrants, criminals, war crimes or just plain old toxic corruption.

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