The worldwide number of journalists killed has increased
Latin America and South Asia have more alarming numbers of journalists killed
The practice of journalism in 2022 has become a profession of greater risk, putting it in comparison with last year’s figures. In several regions of the world, the deaths of media workers have increased.
An investigation by the four main world bodies that keep count of journalists who are victims of violence, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), revealed an alarming increase in the number of reporters killed.
To put in context in the year 2021 each entity reported different numbers from each other, but they are lower compared to this 2022; for example, the IFJ reported 47 journalists or media workers killed and died in incidents related to their profession worldwide in its annual report.
“The annual report, in its 31st edition, records the circumstances in which the 47 journalist murders occurred during the last year, which include targeted attacks, bombings and crossfire incidents, as well as 2 accidental deaths,” the International Federation of Journalists highlighted.
However, as of October 2022, the IFJ reports 59 journalists and media personnel were killed, 12 more people than last year, an increase of 125 per cent.
Looking at the CPP numbers for last year, 45 journalists and media workers were killed for confirmed or yet-to-be-confirmed reasons, however, looking at the figures for October this 2022, the number rises to 57 reporters killed, 8 more journalists which equates to an increase of 126 per cent to date, of which in only 35 cases has it been possible to know the motive.
For Reporters Without Borders in 2021, the figure amounts to 51 journalists and media collaborators killed, a list that only includes journalists who were certainly killed because of their activities as reporters. In 2022, on the other hand, RSF estimates that 50 reporters have been killed to date, a figure that is close to matching last year’s figure.
For its part, UNESCO reported 55 journalists killed in 2021 worldwide, a figure that in contrast to October of this year 2022 falls short, reporting 74 murders of reporters committed, that is, 19 journalists more, which means an increase of 134 per cent.
The most dangerous regions to practice journalism
To date, Latin America has undoubtedly become the most dangerous place for journalists and media workers. For all studies the increase in murders is alarming.
The International Federation of Journalists counted 10 reporters murdered in 2021, for 2022 the number is on the rise, with some 26 journalists killed, 16 more deaths than last year, an increase of 260 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported the murder of 17 media workers in 2021, however, in 2022 the number has increased to 26 murdered journalists, 9 more than last year, an increase of 152 per cent. RSF, in turn, reported 9 journalists murdered in 2021, but by 2022 the figure increases drastically to 24 media workers killed, which represents an increase of 266 per cent.
UNESCO puts its murder figures for 2021 at 14, but by 2022 it has 36 journalists killed in its statistics, an increase of 257 per cent. The countries that top the list of murdered journalists according to the entities are Mexico, Haiti and Colombia.
The Asian continent is the second most dangerous region to practice journalism, although the figures do not have the increase that Latin America has had, the numbers are still striking.
To put it in context the IFJ in 2021 reported the murder of 21 journalists, in 2022 it counted 14 reporters killed. In 2021, the Committee to Protect Journalists published in its report that 20 journalists were murdered and in 2022 it counted the murder of 11 media workers.
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders, in 2021 reported the murder of 24 journalists, and in 2022 its count is 6 reporters murdered. Last but not least, in 2021 UNESCO reported the murder of 24 journalists, however, in 2022 their figures are alarming as they count 19 journalists killed. For IFJ and UNESCO in 2021, the statistics also included the Pacific. UNESCO’s 2022 figures also include the Pacific. The Philippines, Pakistan and Myanmar top the list for Asia and the Pacific.
Africa and the Middle East
Given the statistics of the two previous regions, it could be estimated that Africa and the Middle East would be in good shape, however, this is not the case, these two neighbouring regions have not seen an increase in their numbers with respect to last year, but they are still places where the practice of journalism is dangerous.
Below are the statistics:
|AFRICA 2021||AFRICA 2022|
|IFJ 9||IFJ 10|
|CPP 7||CPP 2|
|RSF 6||RSF CD1|
|UNESCO 10||UNESCO 5|
|MIDDLE EAST 2021||MIDDLE EAST 2022|
|IFJ 3||IFJ 2|
|CPP 5||CPP 2|
|RSF 8||RSF 9|
|UNESCO 2||UNESCO 4|
United States and Europe
Meanwhile, in the United States and Europe, the figures have changed with respect to the previous period, both have increased their numbers, especially the European continent due to conflicts in regions such as Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, to which is added an unparalleled increase due to the war in Ukraine.
|US 2021||US 2022|
|IFJ 0||IFJ 1|
|CPP 0||CPP 1|
|RSF 0||RSF 1|
|UNESCO 0||UNESCO 1|
|EUROPE 2021||EUROPE 2022|
|IFJ 6||IFJ 14|
|CPP 5||CPP 17|
|RSF 6||RSF 9|
|UNESCO 6||UNESCO 12|
Three cases in particular
Although all the cases of murdered journalists are important, three cases have been very prominent in public opinion, the last one being very peculiar due to the circumstances.
Shireen Abu Akleh
Palestinian-American correspondent for Al-Jazeera Arabic was fatally shot in the head on May 11, 2022, while covering an Israeli army operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, according to an Al- Jazeera report showed a video of the aftermath of the shooting posted on Twitter by the media outlet, along with several news reports. In the videos of the incident, she is seen wearing a vest with the inscription “Press.”
Following the shooting, Abu Akleh, 51, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.
Qatar-based Al-Jazeera issued a statement following her murder and claimed that Israeli forces had attacked Abu Akleh. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett refuted that allegation in a statement on Twitter, while U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides confirmed in a Twitter message that Abu Akleh was a U.S. citizen and called for a full investigation into the circumstances of her death.
Abu Akleh was honoured in several Palestinian towns before being buried on Friday, May 13. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas awarded her the “Star of Jerusalem” medal, normally reserved for dignitaries, at his state service in Ramallah on May 12, calling her a “martyr for truth and free speech.” On May 13, thousands of mourners attended her funeral in Jerusalem, when Israeli police stormed the hospital where her body was laid to rest and attacked mourners carrying her coffin.
Her case is still under investigation and has even been taken to the International Criminal Court.
French-Irish camera operator Pierre Zakrzewski was killed on March 14, 2022, in the Ukrainian town of Horenka, outside Kyiv, while on assignment for Fox News. In its statement, the U.S. network indicated that a vehicle carrying Zakrzewski and other journalists of the media was “hit by incoming fire”.
The same attack killed Fox News’ Ukrainian freelance producer Oleksandra Kuvshynova and wounded correspondent Benjamin Hall.
Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko posted on Telegram that the team was attacked by mortars fired by Russian forces, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a speech on March 16 that they had been killed by a Russian artillery attack, however, news reports and the Fox News statement did not specify the alleged source of the attack.
Pierre was a photographer who was noted for covering war zones and international stories for FOX News, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria. He had been in Ukraine since February 2022.
The case of the Pakistani journalist, Arshad Sharif, is very particular because he was living in hiding in Kenya after having left his country for criticizing the army of the South Asian country. Sharif was shot by Kenyan police after the car in which he was travelling accelerated instead of stopping at a roadblock near Nairobi on Monday, October 24.
Police in the African country regretted the incident, claiming it was a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar car involved in a child abduction case. The case is made striking by the fact that Arshad Sharif, 50, was also a critic of the government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who has repeatedly said he believes in media freedom.
Nairobi police said Sharif, was shot in the head Sunday night after the car in which he was travelling with his brother, Khurram Ahmed, drove through a police checkpoint set up on the Nairobi-Magadi highway to check vehicles travelling on the key route. They were travelling from the town of Magadi to the Kenyan capital.
His whereabouts were not publicly known; most of his friends only knew that he had spent time in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and London.
Nairobi police said the Independent Police Monitoring Authority will take over the case for further investigation.