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Number of journalists killed up 40% in 2022, says NGO

Alex Berry
December 9, 2022

A decline in the number of journalists killed in recent years has been reversed, thanks in part to the war in Ukraine. The International Federation of Journalists has called for action to be taken.

Members of various media organizations and human rights activists carry signs condemning the murder of broadcast journalist Percival Mabasa, more popularly known as Percy Lapid, during an indignation rally in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
The Philippines was one of the global hotspots for violence against journalists in 2022Image: Basilio Sepe/ZUMA Wire/IMAGO

The world became a deadlier place for journalists in 2022, with 67 individuals killed while carrying out their work. That is up from 47 in 2021, according to a report published by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday.

Ukraine became the most dangerous country thanks to the Russian invasion, accounting for 12 of the total number of killed journalists and media staff.

The report also highlighted violence in Haiti and organized crime in Mexico, accounting for 6 and 11 deaths respectively.

"The surge in the killings of journalists and other media workers is a grave cause of concern and yet another wake-up call for governments across the globe to take action in the defense of journalism, one of the key pillars of democracy," IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said.

Killings threaten press freedom

The IFJ released its report ahead of International Human Rights Day and renewed its calls for a "Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists" to be voted on by the UN General Assembly.

It said the 2022 figures mark a shift in the recent decline in the number of journalists being killed while on the job.

The report also named Mexico, the Philippines and Pakistan as hotspots where the killing of journalists has threatened media freedom.

The report also highlighted the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces in broad daylight, highlighting that the number of journalists killed across the Middle East increased from 3 to 5 this year.

Hundreds of journalists in jail

The IFJ also reported on the number of journalists behind bars, which increased by 10 in 2022, reaching 375.

According to the NGO, China topped this list with 84 imprisoned journalists, followed by Myanmar (64), Turkey (51), Iran (34), Belarus (33), Egypt (23), Russia and occupied Crimea (29), Saudi Arabia (11), Yemen (10), Syria (9) and India (7).

"These figures make for grim reading and cast serious doubts on the political will on the part of governments to address such grave threats to media freedom," the report quoted Bellanger as saying.

"The number of journalists being held for simply doing their job makes a mockery of the lofty declarations on human rights and media freedom made by too many governments and trumpeted at international conferences."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.