An international non-governmental organisation, The Press Emblem Campaign, based in Geneva, Switzerland, said 55 journalists have died from the coronavirus disease in 23 countries across Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.
This was contained in a report released by the organisation on Friday ahead of the World Press Freedom Day 2020 scheduled for Sunday, May 3.
According to the body, the countries with fatalities were Algeria, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Iran, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
The NGO, which aim at “strengthening the legal protection and safety of journalists in zones of conflict and civil unrest or in dangerous missions” also condemned the press freedom violations that have occurred in several countries since the start of the pandemic.
It noted that protective measures for the media have often been insufficient since the outbreak became full-blown in March.
“Journalists are at great risk in this health crisis because they must continue to inform, by going to hospitals, interviewing doctors, nurses, political leaders, specialists, scientists, patients. In various countries, the indispensable protective measures (social distancing, wearing masks, hygiene measures, quarantine) have not been applied, especially at the beginning of the epidemic.
“The fight against the coronavirus is being used as a pretext by some governments to suppress freedoms of expression, assembly, and demonstration. We condemn these excessive and unjustified violations and call on all States to respect the right of citizens to information and their right to health,” said PEC Secretary-General, Blaise Lempen.
The SG stressed that governments must allow journalists to objectively report the pandemic without gagging their freedom of expression or controlling their reportage for political reasons.