PESHAWAR: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today released its annual list of journalists and media staff killed in work-related incidents, warning of the return of open season on media professionals with a spike in the number of killings from last year.
The IFJ has recorded 68 killings of journalists and media staff during 2022, compared to 47 last year—a reversal of the decline recorded in recent years.
There were also 11 deaths linked to accidents and illness, including three journalists and media workers who passed on while reporting on the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
“These figures demonstrate that the safety crisis in journalism is far from over, and instead represent a real threat of a return to open season on media professionals in many parts of the world,” said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.
Anthony said the war in Ukraine accounts for 12 media fatalities, the highest number in the 21 countries where deadly incidents have been recorded. He said the rule by the terror of criminal organizations in Mexico and the breakdown of law and order in Haiti have also contributed to the surge in killings, with 11 and seven documented, respectively.
Anthony said journalists in Colombia face renewed violence and threats to make the country a killing zone for journalists and media workers once again, shattering the prospects for media freedom following the political settlement to end decades of bloody civil war.
According to the IFJ annual report, in Asia Pacific, the new leadership in the Philippines brought no respite to deadly attacks on journalists, with four killings in the first year of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.’s presidency, while five journalists lost their lives in the political crisis in Pakistan.
The Middle East and Arab World saw the killings of media professionals rise from three last year to five, including the shooting in broad daylight of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Four journalists were killed in Chad and Somalia, meaning Africa recorded the lowest number of deaths among the five regions on the IFJ’s Killed List behind the Americas (30), Asia Pacific (16), Europe (13) and the Middle East and Arab World (5).
The IFJ renewed its call for greater protection of journalists, warning that failure to address threats to journalists’ safety risks jeopardizing democratic rule without the contribution of journalism to informing the public on matters of general interest.
“The surge in the killings of journalists and other media workers is a grave cause for 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,” said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.
“The failure to act will only embolden those who seek to suppress the free flow of information and undermine the ability of people to hold their leaders to account, including in ensuring that those with power and influence do not stand in the way of open and inclusive societies,” Anthony remarked.
To address governments’ lack of action and political will to tackle impunity for crimes committed against journalists, the IFJ calls for an international convention at the United Nations dedicated to the protection of journalists and media professionals.