Forty-two journalists have been killed while doing their jobs this year and a further 235 are in prison resulting from their work, a new report has found.
As more than 2600 journalists and media workers have been killed across the world in the last 30 years, the paper by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has revealed that “very few anticipated” that the tally would be still going three decades later.
Mexico was found at the top of the 2020 list of countries where the most journalists were killed for the fourth time in five years – with 13 killings – followed by Pakistan with five deaths.
Marking International Day for Human Rights on Thursday the White Paper on Global Journalism also showed that Europe has the highest number of journalists in jail, seeing 91 media workers detained predominantly in Turkey and Belarus.
Political upheaval and civil unrest have seen governments resorting to a crackdown on media with arrests as a means of denying the public access to reliable information, IFJ said. Following elections in Belarus, the mass arrest of journalists and media workers was documented in July along with reporting on the handling of the Covid-19 crises such as Covid seeing the detention of journalists such as in Egypt.
Announcing the findings Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ’s general secretary, said: “The decrease of journalists’ killings in recent years cannot disguise the deadly danger and threats journalists continue to face for doing their work.”
In the three decades the IFJ has been keeping count, 2,658 journalists have been killed. The report detailed that Iraq (339 killed), Mexico (175), the Philippines (159), Pakistan (138) and India (116) are the most dangerous countries to practice journalism in the world from 1990-2020. One of the principal causes has been wars and armed conflicts where journalists who report on them are exposed to injury, kidnapping or worse.
Bellanger added: “These are not just statistics. They are our friends and colleagues who have dedicated their lives to, and paid the ultimate price for, their work as journalists.
“We don’t just remember them but we will pursue every case, pressing governments and law enforcement authorities to bring their murderers to justice.”
In no less than 90 per cent of the murders globally, there has been little or no prosecution whatsoever which highlights the organisation’s current campaign to end impunity for crimes against journalists.
The report comes as a high-level panel on the safety of journalists and the problem of impunity for crimes against media workers took place this week at the UN and UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Conference hosted by the Netherlands.
Lawyer Amal Clooney, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan and Věra Jourová, European Commission Vice-President for values and transparency, were among the participants at the panel hosted by Foreign Minister Stef Blok of the Netherlands.
“I call on all governments to protect media workers, fight impunity, and strengthen press freedom,” declared UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the occasion of the conference.
“Journalism without fear or favour is essential to get through the pandemic, and to build a future of peace and human rights for all.”