According to a Reporters Without Borders report, the past two decades have been “especially deadly” for journalists.

According to an analysis published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), nearly 1,700 journalists have been murdered worldwide over the past 20 years, an average of more than 80 per year.

The two decades between 2003 and 2022 were “particularly deadly decades for those in the service of the right to inform,” according to the Paris-based media rights activists.

“Behind the numbers are the faces, personalities, talent and commitment of those who have paid with their lives for their intelligence gathering, their pursuit of the truth and their passion for journalism,” said RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire.

The report comes seven months later Shireen Abu Akleh, a television correspondent for Al Jazeera for 25 years, was killed by Israeli forces while covering an Israeli military attack on a Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. In everything, 12 Al Jazeera journalists have been killed on the front line.

Iraq and Syria are the most dangerous countries for journalists

Iraq and Syria were the most dangerous countries to work in as a journalist, accounting for “a total of 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the global total,” RSF said.

They are followed by Mexico (125 dead), the Philippines (107), Pakistan (93), Afghanistan (81) and Somalia (78). The report also stated that 80 percent of media deaths have occurred in 15 countries.

The “darkest years” were 2012 and 2013, “largely due to the war in Syria”. According to the report, there were 144 homicides in 2012 and 142 the following year.

This peak was “followed by a gradual decline and then historically low figures from 2019”.

The deadly influence of Vladimir Putin

The number of deaths increased again in 2022, partly due to the war in Ukraine. So far this year, 58 journalists have died in the line of duty, up from 51 in 2021.

Eight journalists have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country on February 24. This compares to a total of 12 media deaths in the country over the past 19 years.

Ukraine is currently the most dangerous country in Europe for the media, after Russia itself, where 25 journalists have been murdered in the last 20 years.

“Since (President) Vladimir Putin took over, Russia has seen systematic attacks on press freedom – including deadly ones,” the human rights organization said. “They include the high-profile murder of Anna Politkovskaya on October 7, 2006.” Politkovskaya was a fierce critic of Putin and had exposed high-level corruption in the country. She was shot four times in her apartment building after coming home from buying groceries.

America remains the deadliest continent for journalists

Globally, reporters are most at risk in areas of armed conflict.

But, RSF stressed, “countries where there is no official war are not necessarily safe from reporters and some are near the top of the list of countries where murders have taken place”.

“In fact, more journalists have been killed in ‘peace zones’ than in ‘war zones’ over the past two decades, in most cases because they were investigating organized crime and corruption.”

The Americas accounted for nearly half of journalist homicides, with Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Honduras responsible for the most deaths.

“America is clearly the world’s most dangerous continent for the media today,” said RSF.



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