The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and also protects freedom of the press. But in many countries, journalists are not allowed to report the news or criticize their governments, and are punished or even killed for doing so. And in war zones, journalists are frequently exposed to crossfire. The dangers to journalists are evident in the number of those killed in the line of duty.
They were killed last year while doing their jobs. The Newseum in Washington has added 82 names to its Journalists Memorial.
Photojournalist Ahmed Ismael Hassan al-Samadi was shot in Bahrain while taping an anti-government protest.
His father Ismail carries the camera his son was using when he was killed. No one has been charged in his death.
“What I hope is that every martyr gets justice — everyone who died this year and previous years. And I hope that justice takes its course,” Ismael said.
Voice of America radio reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif was killed by gunmen while saying prayers at a Pakistani mosque.
Aatif joins more than 2,200 journalists on this wall — all killed while practicing their craft — often in countries that do not have freedom of the press, or are plagued by war. Syria was the deadliest country for journalists last year, with 29 deaths.
NBC correspondent Richard Engel knows the danger. He and his crew were kidnapped last year in Syria then rescued after five days.
“You have pockets of the country that are run by one group, pockets of the same country that are run by yet another group, the capital that is still in the government’s hands and how you navigate from one political space to the next where you don’t really know who to trust, who has capacity to give you safe passage. I fear next year Syria is going to be very represented on this list as well,” Engel said.
The second most dangerous country last year was Somalia with 12 deaths, followed by Brazil and Pakistan. Those journalists join the others on the memorial, dating back to 1837.
Richard Engel says these journalists died doing what they loved. Not behind a desk, but with their boots on and pencil in hand.