22 Dec 2003, 17:25 UTC
A leading international organization defending the rights of journalists says 83 members of the profession have been killed worldwide over the past year, 13 more than in 2002.
The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists blamed the increase on war and indifference by officials.
The organization, which serves as an umbrella group for news media trade unions worldwide, cited the war in Iraq, as well as continuing insurgencies in Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere, as principal causes of media casualties. The group also cited organized crime as a contributing factor.
Speaking in Brussels Monday, federation general secretary Aidan White said the failure of officials to properly investigate killings of media staff remains a persistent obstacle to justice for slain media workers.
Mr. White also called for changes in international law to make targeting of journalists and failure to protect them war crimes.
The group then announced it will observe April 8 as an international day of protest, to mark the first anniversary of a U.S. tank shell attack on a Baghdad hotel housing members of the press. Two cameramen were killed in the incident.
The organization has since called for an independent investigation into the event, as well as into the killing of British television journalist Terry Lloyd near Basra last March and several other journalist deaths in Iraq