At least three journalists were killed and one more injured by regime forces and the ISIS extremist group in January, a rights group has said. The group said that nine more journalists and media activists, including two female media activists, were detained in January.
In a report published on Friday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that the situation of journalists and media activity in Syria has further deteriorated in 2016. The Network pointed out that 2016 saw a significant decline in the media coverage of the journalists’ work in Syria compared to previous years.
A journalist is a civilian according to international humanitarian law regardless of their nationality, the report added. The group also said that deliberately targeting journalists amounts to a war crime. The SNHR stressed that journalists and media activists must be protected and treated with respect whether they have press cards or not.
The report indicated that various Syrian provinces have seen a remarkable decline in death rates since the truce took effect on December 29, 2016, particularly in the liberated areas. It noted that airstrikes accounted for about 60% of the total deaths in Syria.
However, violations of the truce by regime forces, especially extrajudicial executions and killing under torture, have not stopped, the Network said. Though the ceasefire is ostensibly holding, many crimes by the regime go unnoticed by the international community and by Russia and Turkey, the guarantors of the ceasefire agreement.
The SNHR stressed the need for urgent action to protect journalists and media activists in Syria and ensure they can operate freely.
The SNHR called upon the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to conduct investigations into the targeting of journalists, urging the UN Security Council to put an end to the culture of impunity through the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The SNHR called upon Arab and international media institutions to support fellow journalists in Syria by highlighting their daily suffering and the sacrifices they make. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office)