1,668 journalists killed from 2003-2022 in connection with their work, says RSF

With 58 murders, India in 15 most dangerous countries for press


December 30, 2022

/ By / Paris

1,668 journalists killed from 2003-2022 in connection with their work, says RSF

1,668 journalists have been killed worldwide in connection with their work in the last two decades, says RSF

Press freedom organisation RSF says 1668 journalists have been killed around the world in the two decades from 2003-2022 for doing their work. With 58 murders in the current year, the annual worldwide death toll is at a four-year high. The world’s largest democracy, India, ranks in the top 15 most dangerous countries for journalists as 58 have been killed in period of report.

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Global press freedom organisation Reporters San Frontieres (RSF) says that with murders, contract killings, ambushes, war zone deaths and fatal injuries, a total of 1,668 journalists have been killed worldwide in connection with their work in the last two decades (2003-2022). RSF says that this means on an average more than 80 journalists have been killed every year. The total killed since 2000 is 1,787.

In a press statement, the Paris-based organisation says that the darkest years for press freedom were 2012 and 2013 with 144 and 142 journalists killed, respectively. RSF says that these peaks, due in large measure to the war in Syria, were followed by a gradual fall and then historically low figures from 2019 onwards.

However, the ongoing year has seen a reversal of trends as there has been an increase in the number of journalists killed in connection with their work in 2022 to 58, rising from 51 in 2021.

The RSF says that an overwhelming share of the murders have taken place in 15 worst countries that account for 80 pc of the media fatalities have occurred in 15 countries. The two countries with the highest death tolls in the two decades are the war-torn nations of Iraq and Syria, which together account for 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the worldwide total. They are followed by Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine. Somalia from Africa is next most dangerous nation, says RSF.

In Europe, Russia continues to be the deadliest country for the media, with the biggest number of journalists killed during the past 20 years. It says that since President Vladimir Putin took over, Russia has seen systematic attacks on press freedom. Next on the list is Ukraine which is in the midst of a war with Russia since February 24. RSF says that the war has claimed lives of eight journalists, but even before that 12 journalists had been killed in the preceding 19 years from 2003-2021. Due to the mass murder of journalists in Paris office of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, France ranks as fourth deadliest European country.

RSF says that the biggest danger for journalists is in a war or conflict zone. However, it adds that some slight encouragement can be derived from the fact that the annual total of journalists killed in war zones has not exceeded 20 during the past three years. Aside from a decline in the intensity of some wars, these figures reflect the effectiveness of preventive and protective measures taken by news organisations as well as, sometimes, reporting precautions and restrictions.

But it adds, that war is not the only threat and even countries where no war is officially taking place are not necessarily safe for reporters and some of them are near the top of the list of those where killings have occurred. In fact, more journalists have been killed in “zones at peace” than in “zones at war” during the past two decades, in most cases because they were investigating organised crime and corruption, it says.

With 47.4 pc of the journalists killed in 2022, America is nowadays clearly the world’s most dangerous continent for the media, which justifies the implementation of specific protection policies, says RSF. Four countries, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Honduras are among the world’s 15 most dangerous countries. Asia also has many countries on this tragic list, including the Philippines, with more than 100 journalists killed since the start of 2003, Pakistan with 93 and India with 58.

The report says that while 95 pc of the journalists killed have been males, the women have not been spared either. A total of 81 women journalists have been killed in the past 20 years, representing 4.86 pc of the total media fatalities. Since 2012, 52 have been killed, in many cases after investigating women’s rights. Some years have seen spikes in the number of women journalists killed, and some of the spikes have been particularly alarming.

“Behind the figures, there are the faces, personalities, talent and commitment of those who have paid with their lives for their information gathering, their search for the truth and their passion for journalism. In each of its annual round-ups, RSF has continued to document the unjustifiable violence that has specifically targeted media workers. This year’s end is an appropriate time to pay tribute to them and to appeal for full respect for the safety of journalists wherever they work and bear witness to the world’s realities,’’ says Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of RSF.

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