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Shireen Abu Akleh (Al-Jazeera/YouTube)

Statistics show “devastating decline in journalists’ safety”

There was a devastating decline in journalists’ safety in 2022. 66 journalists and media workers worldwide were killed in connection with their profession, eight of them were women, International Press Institute (IPI) says. “This figure marks a steep increase from the total of 45 journalists killed in 2021.”

Spiralling attacks against journalists in Mexico as well as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine were leading factors behind the rise in journalist killings, IPI says. 

“14 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2022, the deadliest year for the country’s media since 2017. Meanwhile, eight journalists were killed covering Russia’s war in Ukraine, including both Ukrainian and foreign reporters.”

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IPI said 2022 saw other shocking attacks on journalists, such as the fatal shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces while reporting on an Israeli raid in the West Bank in May.

“States’ failure to ensure justice for attacks on journalists continues to provide fertile ground for violence against the press. IPI calls on authorities around the world to end impunity for these crimes and to ensure the protection of journalists.”

IPI’s database categorizes journalist killings into five categories. There were 39 targeted killings in 2022, meaning that journalists were murdered due to their work. Seven journalists were killed while covering armed conflict, compared to three cases in this category in 2021. Two were killed while covering civil unrest, and two lost their lives while on assignment. In the remaining 16 cases, the circumstances and motive behind the journalist’s killing remain unconfirmed, but a work-related killing cannot be ruled out.

Latin America and the Caribbean was the deadliest region for journalists in 2022. This year marked one of the darkest periods for the Mexican press in recent memory. With 14 documented killings, Mexico remained the deadliest country in the world for journalists, even compared to active war zones such as Ukraine.

“In most of these cases, journalists were targeted deliberately due to their work. Journalists working in remoter regions of the country were in particular danger. 

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“There is virtually complete impunity for crimes against journalists in Mexico. Measures taken by the authorities to protect journalists in danger have been inadequate. Moreover, despite promises made by Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador to “end corruption and impunity”, the president has instead become known for his verbal attacks on journalists. In February, he aggressively rejected a resolution passed by the European Parliament condemning the recent rise of violence against the press in Mexico”, IPI says.

“The horrific slaughter of journalists in Mexico shows that the criminals are in control, as they can act with impunity”, IPI Executive Director Frane Maroević said. “The Mexican government has to act now to protect journalists who are risking their lives and to reinstate the rule of law, ensuring justice for those who were killed.”

In addition to Mexico, an alarming number of journalists were killed in Haiti, where a total of eight journalists lost their lives due to their profession, IPI says.

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