The media freedom watchdog Reporters without Borders has noted a decrease in number of journalists killed across the world in the course of duty. But it says the toll is still high compared with previous years.
In its annual report on violations of press freedom, issued on Wednesday, Reporters without Borders (RSF) said 71 journalists had been killed in connection with their work this year across the world.
Although the number is down from last year, when 88 were killed in a particularly deadly year for reporters, this year's toll is still higher than in previous years.
The Paris-based group said Syria, Somalia and Pakistan remained the most dangerous countries for the media, but that India and the Philippines now replaced Mexico and Brazil among the top five.
Despite the fall in deaths compared with last year, RSF said the number of journalists abducted had increased from 38 in 2012 to 87 in 2013. It said more than half of the kidnappings occurred in Syria.
"Abductions gained pace in Syria in 2013 and became more and more systematic in nature, deterring many reporters from going into the field," the watchdog said.
"At least 18 foreign journalists and 22 Syrian [journalists] are currently abducted or missing," it said.
RSF said the violence in Syria had forced at least 31 professional and citizen-journalists to leave the country, often leaving them destitute in nearby countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt.
The group also said at least 178 journalists were currently in prison around the world, including in China, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Syria.
tj/kms (AFP, AP)