A total of 86 journalists and other media workers were killed in the world in 2022, an average of one every four days, and Latin America and the Caribbean has been the deadliest region for these professionals, said a Monday 16 UNESCO report.
Audrey Azoulay, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), said that “after several years of consecutive declines, the sharp increase in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming.”
“The authorities must redouble their efforts to put an end to these crimes and ensure that their perpetrators are punished because indifference is an important factor in this climate of violence,” Azoulay added.
Half of journalists killed off duty
At least half of those killed were killed when they were off duty, at home, travelling, in parking lots or other public places where they were not working, the Unesco report indicated.
“After several years of consecutive declines, the sharp increase in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming. The authorities must redouble their efforts to put an end to these crimes and ensure that their perpetrators are punished, because indifference is an important factor in this climate of violence”: .Audrey Azoulay UNESCO Director-General
The uptick in murders in 2022 marks a dramatic reversal of the positive trend observed in recent years: from 99 such crimes in 2018, the number had dropped to an average of 58 murders per year between 2019 and 2021, according to Unesco.
The figures are a reminder of the growing fissures in rule of law systems around the world, and highlight the failure of states to meet their obligations to protect journalists and prevent and prosecute crimes against them.
Since 1993, according to the Unesco observatory, 1,577 journalists have been assassinated around the world.
In 2022, although all regions were affected, Latin America and the Caribbean were the deadliest for journalists, with 44 homicides, more than half of all those killed in the world.
List of deadliest countries for Journalists
Asia and the Pacific recorded 16 murders, while 11 occurred in Eastern Europe. The deadliest countries were Mexico (19 murders), Ukraine (10) and Haiti (9).
With the murders of journalists when they were off duty, a trend of recent years has been maintained, which implies that there are no safe places for these professionals, not even in their free time.
Although the number of journalists killed in countries in conflict rose to 23 in 2022, up from 20 the previous year, the overall increase was mainly due to killings in countries without major or non-conflict countries.
Their number almost doubled, from 35 cases in 2021 to 61 in 2022, representing three-quarters of all murders last year.
These journalists were killed for various reasons, including reprisals for reporting on organized crime, armed conflicts or the rise of extremism, and for covering sensitive issues such as corruption, crimes against the environment, abuse of power and protests.
Impunity remains stubbornly high
UNESCO points out that the rate of impunity in the murders of journalists, although some progress has been made in the last five years, “remains scandalously high (86%)”, which creates a chilling effect for the work of communicators and endangers freedom of expression around the world.
“This shows that the fight against impunity continues to be a pressing commitment in which international cooperation must be further mobilized,” the report said.
In addition to murders, journalists continue to be threatened by multiple forms of violence, ranging from enforced disappearance, kidnapping, and arbitrary detention to judicial harassment and digital violence, especially against women journalists.
The Unesco report “World Trends in Freedom of Expression 2021-2022” highlights as challenges “the militarization of defamation laws, cyber laws and legislation against “fake news“, which is sometimes applied as a means to limit freedom of expression.
The set of acts and threats of violence, militarization and restrictive laws create “a toxic environment” for the work of journalists, concludes the Unesco report.
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