ALBAWABA - Eighty-six journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022, or one every four days, according to data by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The rising number of casualties highlighted the "grave risks and vulnerabilities that journalists continue to face in the course of their work," UNESCO said in a statement, releasing its findings.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said the rise followed several years of consecutive declines in the number of casualties among journalists.
"The steep rise in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming," said the UNESCO chief.
"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," she added.
After several years of consecutive declines, the steep rise in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming. 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.
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General
UNESCO said the spike in killings last year marked 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," it added.
In too many cases, countries have enacted policies & regulations that contain overly vague language or disproportionate punishments that threaten #FreedomOfExpression.— UNESCO ?️ #Education #Sciences #Culture ?? (@UNESCO) January 15, 2023
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While every region was affected, Latin America and the Caribbean was the deadliest for journalists in 2022 with 44 killings, over half of all of those killed worldwide, according to UNESCO.
One of the killings that received widespread global media attention was the May 11 killing of Palestinian journalist Sherine Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers while covering a story for Aljazeera satellite channel in the West Bank town of Jenin.
UNESCO said Asia and the Pacific registered 16 killings, while 11 were killed in Eastern Europe.
The deadliest individual countries were Mexico, where 19 killings were recorded; Ukraine with 10 and Haiti, 9.
It said that about half of the journalists killed were off duty when they were targeted, such as 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," according to the statement.
It noted that while the number of journalists killed in countries in conflict increased 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," UNESCO noted.
It said the victims were killed for different reasons, such as reprisals for reporting on organized crime, armed conflict or the rise of extremism, or for "covering sensitive subjects such as corruption, environmental crimes, abuse of power, and protests.