After several years of consecutive declines, there was a steep rise in the number of journalists killed in 2022. 86 journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022 – one every four days. Around half of the journalists killed were off duty, according to UNESCO’s data.
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, the organisation says.
“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.”
Latin America and the Caribbean were 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).
UNESCO data says 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”, UNESCO says.
“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.”
The report says 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.”
The report shows that 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.