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2009 Journalist Deaths Rise in Media 'Bloodbath'

Fifty-nine journalists have been killed around the world so far this year, in an alarming rise from 2008 that has become a "bloodbath" of the media, a watchdog said Thursday.

"A woman cries during a rally in honour of slain Russian journalist and human rights activist Natalya Estemirova in Moscow on July 16. Fifty-nine journalists have been killed around the world so far this year, in an alarming rise from 2008 that has become a "bloodbath" of the media, a watchdog has said."

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said 53 journalists were killed in the first six months, up from 45 in the first half of last year, but highlighted another six killings in July including Russian journalist and rights activist Natalya Estemirova who was murdered on July 15.

Mexico leads the media blackspots with seven journalist killings this year, according to the PEC.

It said there were six in Pakistan, five each in Iraq, the Philippines, Russia and Somalia, four in Gaza and Honduras, three in Colombia, two each in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Venezuela and one in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, and Madagascar.

The PEC called on all UN states, international organizations and non-government organisations to take action "to stop this bloodbath against journalists".

PEC secretary general Blaise Lempen said the increase in deaths this year reflects the conflicts in Gaza, Somalia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

But he added that in places like Mexico, the Philippines and Russia there is no conflict but "violence against journalists became an endemic feature."

PEC president Hedayat Abdel Nabi said the high number of killings "reflects negatively on objective reporting and kills the chances of unveiling the truth to the world."

Abdel Nabi said the UN Human Rights Council was "impotent" in protecting journalists.

The PEC expressed concern about election unrest in Iran where at least 40 journalists were arrested during disturbances after the disputed presidential vote.

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