Where journalists are dying in the field

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LAST YEAR, 26 journalists were killed worldwide in the course of their work, just two fewer than in 1996.

In 1995, the figure was twice that, and in 1994 four times. According to Index on Censorship, the London-based magazine launched by poet Stephen Spender, the reason for the drop was the end of the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Chechnya, rather than a breakthrough in press freedom (Kosovo has yet to claim any journalists' lives).

One of the worst areas in the world is Asia. Last year, 12 journalists died while working in Asia: seven in India, two in Cambodia and one each in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. But South America has a bad record, too. Last year, four journalists were killed in Colombia, three in Mexico, one in Argentina, one in Brazil and one in Guatemala.

Two journalists were killed in Africa last year, but more than 60 have fled Sierra Leone to escape the military junta. In Rwanda, the editor of a local paper was shot, but in South Africa and Burundi, which previously had no private press, journalists are well received.

Around 90 journalists are imprisoned around the world. The number of those assaulted, arrested, detained and fined, or who have had publications banned have remained fairly constant in recent years.