86 journalists killed in 2022, 50 pc more than in 2021: UNESCO

UN body asks governments to ensure safety of media personnel to safeguard freedom of expression


January 16, 2023

/ By / Paris

86 journalists killed in 2022, 50 pc more than in 2021: UNESCO

86 Journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022, says UNESCO's latest report

With a sharp rise in the number of journalists getting killed for their work, either on-duty or even off-duty, UNESCO asks governments of member countries to ensure highest degree of safety to ensure freedom of expression.

Rate this post

A report by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that a total of 86 journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022, at the rate of one every four days. UNESCO says that it highlights the grave risks and vulnerabilities that journalists continue to face in the course of their work.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General

Audrey Azoulay

“After several years of consecutive declines, the steep rise in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming. Authorities must step up their efforts to stop these crimes and ensure their perpetrators are punished, because indifference is a major factor in this climate of violence,” says Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General.

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to ensure freedom of expression and the safety of journalists around the world. It coordinates the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which marked its 10th anniversary with a global conference in Vienna, Austria this year.

The spike in killings in 2022 marks a dramatic reversal of the positive trend seen in recent years. From 99 killings in 2018, the number had dropped to an average of 58 killings per year from 2019-2021, according to the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists.

These numbers are a reminder of the growing fissures in rule of law systems worldwide, and highlight states’ failure to fulfill their obligations to protect journalists and prevent and prosecute crimes against them.

While every region was affected, Latin America and the Caribbean was the deadliest for journalists in 2022 with 44 killings, over half of all of those killed worldwide. Asia and the Pacific registered 16 killings, while 11 were killed in Eastern Europe.  The deadliest individual countries were Mexico which reported 19 killings, Ukraine with 10 deaths and Haiti nine.

Half of journalists killed off duty

UNESCO says that around half of the journalists killed were off duty at the time they were targetted – while travelling, in their homes, or in parking lots and other public places where they were not on assignment. This marks a continuation of a trend in recent years and implies that there are no safe spaces for journalists, even in their spare time, says UNESCO.

While the number of journalists killed in countries in conflict rose to 23 in 2022, compared with 20 the previous year, the global increase was primarily driven by killings in non-conflict countries. This number almost doubled from 35 cases in 2021 to 61 in 2022, representing three quarters of all killings last year.

These journalists were killed for a variety of reasons, including reprisals for reporting on organised crime, armed conflict or the rise of extremism, and covering sensitive subjects such as corruption, environmental crimes, abuse of power, and protests.

UNESCO also expresses grave concern over impunity enjoyed by those threatening, killing or injuring the journalists. While there has been some progress in the last five years, the rate of impunity for journalist killings remains shockingly high at 86 pc, creating a chilling effect for the work of journalists and risking freedom of expression worldwide. This proves that combating impunity remains a pressing commitment on which international co-operation must be further mobilised.

In addition to killings, journalists continue to be threatened with multiple forms of violence ranging from enforced disappearance, kidnapping and arbitrary detention, legal harassment, and digital violence, particularly against women journalists, says UNESCO.

UNESCO’s World Trends in Freedom of Expression Report 2021/2022 highlights these challenges, pointing to the weaponisation of defamation laws, cyber laws, and anti “fake news” legislation, which is sometimes applied as a means of limiting freedom of speech, all of which create a toxic environment for journalists to operate in.

UNESCO says that it condemns and monitors judicial follow up to every journalist killing. It also trains journalists and judicial actors, works with governments to develop supportive policies and laws, and raises global awareness through events such as World Press Freedom Day on May 3 and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on November 2 held annually.



    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *