Brussels: Russia’s war in Ukraine, chaos in Haiti and rising violence by criminal groups in Mexico contributed to a sharp spike in the number of journalists killed doing their work in 2022, according to a new report released on Friday.
The International Federation of Journalists says that 67 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world so far this year, up from 47 last year.
The Brussels-based group also tallied 375 journalists currently imprisoned for their work, with the highest figures in China including Hong Kong, in Myanmar and in Turkey. Last year’s report listed 365 journalists behind bars.
With the number of media workers killed on the rise, the IFJ and other media rights groups have called on governments to take more concrete action to protect journalists and free journalism.
“The failure to act will only embolden those who seek to suppress the free flow of information and undermine the ability of people to hold their leaders to account, including in ensuring that those with power and influence do not stand in the way of open and inclusive societies,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement.
More media workers were killed covering the war in Ukraine 12 in total than in any other country this year, according to the IFJ. Most were Ukrainian but also included those of other nationalities such as American documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud.
Many deaths occurred in the first chaotic weeks of the war, though threats to journalists continue as the fighting drags on.
The IFJ said “the rule by terror of criminal organisations in Mexico, and the breakdown of law and order in Haiti, have also contributed to the surge in killings.” 2022 has been one of the deadliest ever for journalists in Mexico, which is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters outside a war zone.
The group recorded five deaths of journalists amid this year’s political crisis in Pakistan, and warned of new threats to journalists in Colombia and continued danger for journalists in the Philippines despite new leadership there.
It also called out the shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting from a Palestinian refugee camp. The Arab network this week formally asked the International Criminal Court to investigate her death.
The Brussels-based IFJ represents 600,000 media professionals from trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries. The report was released on the eve of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day. (AP)