Thirty-seven journalists were killed in the line of duty in 22 countries around the world in 2001, a sharp increase from the 24 killed the year before. The war in Afghanistan accounts for much of the increase.
Eight journalists were killed covering the war in Afghanistan, the highest death toll recorded for a single country since 10 journalists died in Sierra Leone in 1999.
But, according to Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists, uncovering truth posed a bigger danger for reporters than covering war in 2001. Mr. Simon said most of the journalists killed last year were murdered for reporting on official corruption and crime in countries like Bangladesh, China, Thailand, and Yugoslavia. "It is dangerous because corruption thrives in an environment where the rule of law is not strong," he said, "and that means that those who are threatened by having journalists expose their activities feel they can use violence to address their grievances. Unfortunately they are right, because in most of these cases no one is ever arrested."
Aside from Afghanistan, Joel Simon said, Colombia proved to be the most dangerous place to be a journalist in 2001. "Year after year, Colombia is one of the most dangerous places," he said. "This year, three journalists were killed there, all of them murdered, one apparently by right wing paramilitaries, another apparently by left wing guerrillas, and a third by criminals. Those three deaths explain quite aptly the perils that journalists working in Colombia face."
Even in war zones, Joel Simon said, journalists are more likely to be murdered than killed by crossfire. Of the eight journalists killed in Afghanistan, he said, five died far from the front lines - four murdered in an ambush and one killed during a burglary.