A sharp increase in the number of victims of COVID 19 among journalists, the PEC appeals to the Human Rights Council

Geneva, September 15, 2020 (PEC): The Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim many victims among journalists. At least 366 journalists from 47 countries have died from the coronavirus since early March, the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) told in Geneva on Tuesday at the start of the Human Rights Council's session. In addition, 54 journalists have been murdered in various circumstances since January, which brings the total number this year at more than 400 killed."The rise in the number of victims of the coronavirus has been particularly strong in recent weeks in India, with more than 20 additional deaths," said PEC General Secretary Blaise Lempen. “It’s very worrying. We call on the members of the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution strengthening the safety of journalists in this unprecedented health crisis", he added.  In two months from July 1 to early September, the number of journalists who died from the coronavirus doubled.

According to the Peru National Association of Journalists (ANP), 82 media workers have died from the virus since March. Peru is followed by Ecuador: 40, India 36, and Bangladesh 31.

Among the most affected countries is also, in 5th place, Mexico, with at least 26 journalists victims of Covid-19. The United States (20 dead), Brazil (19), Pakistan (10) follow. In Bolivia, Great Britain, and Nigeria, eight journalists have died in each country. Seven victims were counted in Honduras, 6 in Nicaragua, 5 in Russia and the Dominican Republic, 4 in Spain, and 4 in France. Three journalists have died from Covid-19 in Italy, as well as in Cameroon, Egypt, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Two deaths are to be deplored in the following countries: Afghanistan, South Africa, Algeria, Colombia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sweden. Finally, the PEC has identified at least one victim in the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Iraq (Kurdistan), Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Panama, Paraguay, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tajikistan, Togo, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Latin America in the lead By region, Latin America leads by far with more than half of the victims or 205 deaths. Asia followed sharply with 90 deaths, followed by Europe, stable with 28 dead, ahead of Africa (22 dead), and North America (21 dead). The actual figure is certainly higher, as some countries do not report the deaths of journalists, or some of them have not been tested. The statistic can be misleading because countries where there is information, such as Peru and India, are ahead, while in other countries there is no reliable information. In this regard, the PEC appeals to the media and journalists' associations around the world to communicate on this subject in order to have a complete idea of ​​the tragedy suffered by the journalistic community. The count of the PEC is based on information from the media, national associations of journalists, and correspondents of the PEC. 

Over 400 deaths in total, The PEC also condemns the murder of 54 other journalists from January 1 to September 10, killed in attacks or violent incidents, or in detention. This figure is roughly equivalent to the number of victims recorded for the same period last year. Mexico remains the most dangerous country with 8 killed, ahead of Pakistan (7 killed), and India (6 killed). In total, the deaths of 420 journalists have been deplored since the start of the year, a very heavy toll. "In the light of this brutal deterioration of the safety of journalists, we ask the Human Rights Council to adopt at this session a strong resolution on the protection of journalists which takes into account the new health challenges that the profession must face, and repeated attacks on press freedom”, said Blaise Lempen. The PEC urges governments to release all journalists imprisoned for political reasons and who are in danger due to their conditions of detention, in particular the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange, whose extradition trial is currently taking place in London. 

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