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UNESCO: Killings of journalists up 50% in 2022, half targeted off duty

UNESCO: Killings of journalists up 50% in 2022, half targeted off duty

Baku, January 18, AZERTAC

Eighty-six journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022 – one every four days, according to UNESCO data, highlighting the grave risks and vulnerabilities that journalists continue to face in the course of their work.

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 (19 killings), Ukraine (10) and Haiti (9).

Around half of the journalists killed were off duty at the time they were targeted – while traveling, 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. 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 organized crime, armed conflict or the rise of extremism, and covering sensitive subjects such as corruption, environmental crimes, abuse of power, and protests.

While there has been some progress in the last five years, the rate of impunity for journalist killings remains shockingly high at 86%, 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 mobilized.

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.

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