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RSF: 65 journalists killed worldwide in 2017

Evan Woodnorth
December 19, 2017

The media freedom NGO has released its annual report, which also reveals hundreds of detentions. While fewer journalists were killed in 2017 than in the 14 previous years, the downward trend has disturbing cause.

Reporters Without Borders in Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMA Press/J. Scheunert

According to a roundup report released Tuesday by the Paris-based NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), fewer professional journalists were killed worldwide in 2017 than at anytime in the last 14 years. However, the report noted that the downward trend stems in part from journalists leaving posts in countries that have become extremely dangerous, as RSF also noted last year.

"Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya have been hemorrhaging journalists,” it said.

The annual report compiles figures on the number of journalists killed, detained, held hostage or missing. The figures are split up into categories of professional journalists, media workers, and citizen-journalists.

The death toll in 2017, which includes all categories, amounts to 65 — down 18 percent from last year's figure of 79. Just over half of this year's deaths occurred in conflict zones.

With Syria at the top of the list since 2012, the worldwide deadliest countries for reporters include Mexico, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines.

Reporters without borders infographic, 65 journalists killed in 2017

Head to head with Mexican drug cartels

Of the countries not currently at war, Mexico remains the deadliest for journalists, with 11 assassinated in 2017.

"Journalists who cover political corruption or organized crime are almost systematically targeted, threatened, and often gunned down in cold blood,” says the RSF report.

Last May, well-known Mexican journalist Javier Valdez was shot dead while walking in Culiacan, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. Valdez authored several investigative books on drug trafficking in Mexico. His last book, entitled "Narcojournalism”, detailed the ways in which narco-trafficking influences the Mexican media and annihilates journalists.

Read more: Mexico: 11th journalist killed, setting path for record-breaking year

Detained journalists

The number of detained journalists in 2017 amounts to 326. The report notes that roughly half of the world's incarcerated journalists are being detained in just five countries: Turkey, Syria, Iran, China and Vietnam.

Reporters without borders infographic, 326 journalists detained in 2017

As also noted by the press freedom index earlier this month, Turkey remains the global leader in the incarceration of professional journalists, with a total of 43.

Turkey's unmatched purge of journalists comes in the wake of a coup attempt in July 2016, after which president Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed a state of emergency and has severely cracked down on journalists as well as writers, artists and academics. 

#DWmypic: In Mexico, journalism can get you killed

ejw/kl (rsf, afp)