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The number of journalists killed worldwide increased dramatically in 2022, after declining over the past three years, it has shown. A new report issued by UNESCO.

During the year 2022, 86 journalists and media professionals were killed in the world, equivalent to one person being killed every four days, according to UNESCO data that indicate “the major risks that journalists continue to face during their careers.”

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, called on the authorities to “intensify their efforts to stop these crimes and ensure that the perpetrators are punished, because indifference is a major factor in this climate of violence,” describing the findings in the report as “disturbing.”

According to UNESCO, this “sudden increase in the number of journalists killed during 2022 indicates a tragic reversal of the positive trend witnessed in recent years.”

The UNESCO Monitor of Journalist Murders indicated, in a statement, that “the number of journalists killed decreased from 99 in 2018 to approximately 58 journalists in the period from 2019 to 2021.”

“These figures draw attention to the growing gaps in legal systems in the world, and highlight the failure of states to fulfill their obligation to protect journalists, prevent crimes against them and prosecute perpetrators,” according to UNESCO.

Mexico’s deadliest

All regions of the world witnessed the killing of journalists, but the Latin America and the Caribbean region recorded the largest number of these crimes, as 44 journalists were killed in 2022, which is more than half the number of killings in the world.

The Asia-Pacific region recorded 16 murders, while Eastern Europe recorded 11 murders.

The highest number of such crimes occurred in Mexico, with 19 murders, Ukraine, with 10 murders, and Haiti, with nine murders. Half of the journalists killed while off duty

targeting method

Almost half of the journalists killed were targeted outside of their working hours, whether they were on the move, at home, in the parking lot, or other public places where they were for reasons not related to their work; It is a continuous trend in recent years, and indicates that there are no safe places for journalists even in their spare time, according to UNESCO.

And while the number of journalists killed in conflict zones rose to 23 in 2022 compared to 20 last year, the global increase in the number of journalist murders occurred in non-conflict zones, where the number almost doubled from 35 cases in 2021 to 61 cases in 2022, the equivalent of three-quarters of the murders that occurred in the last year.

The motives behind these crimes were multiple, including retaliation for reporting on organized crime, armed conflict, or the rise of extremism, and coverage of sensitive topics such as corruption, environmental crimes, abuse of power, and protests.

Impunity continues

“Despite some progress in the issue of impunity in the last five years, the rates of impunity for murders committed against journalists are still shockingly high, amounting to 86 percent of crimes, which raises fear among journalists and threatens freedom of expression.” endangered worldwide”, reports UNESCO.

“This proves that the fight against impunity remains an urgent requirement for which international cooperation efforts must be further mobilized.”

Journalists continue to be exposed to multiple forms of violence, in addition to killing, ranging from enforced disappearance, kidnapping and arbitrary detention, legal harassment, and digital violence, particularly against women journalists.

The UNESCO Report on Global Trends in Freedom of Expression for 2021/2022 highlights these challenges, noting that anti-defamation laws, cyber laws and anti-“fake news” legislation are sometimes used as a pretext to limit freedom of speech, transforming the work environment for journalists. to a toxic environment.

It is noteworthy that the year 2022 constituted one of the worst years for press freedom and the safety of journalists around the world, after setting records that indicators had not monitored for nearly 30 years. According to reports of human rights and professional organizations in this regard.

This deteriorating reality prompted the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to say, earlier, that journalists and media workers are facing “increasing politicization of their work” and threats, increasing day by day, regarding their freedom to perform their jobs smoothly, on International Freedom Day. the press.

While the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said on the same occasion that more than five out of six people in the world live in a country that has recorded a decline in press freedom during the past five years.

And it was issued, in mid-December 2022, by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and revealed that the number of imprisoned journalists in the world reached the highest number over the past thirty years, and reached 363 journalists, by December 1, 2022, which represents a record number and constitutes an increase by 20 percent from 2021.

The annual tally of violations committed against journalists around the world, published by “Reporters Without Borders”, set a higher record, as the number of detainees among media actors reached 533, during 2022. The organization also documented no less than 65 hostages and 49 journalists among them. the missing.

Reporters Without Borders revealed another record in 2022, related to the detention of female journalists in particular, as 78 female journalists are currently behind bars, which is an unprecedented increase of about 30 percent over the past twelve months, noting that women now constitute 15 percent of the population. percent of the total detained journalists, while this percentage did not reach 7 percent five years ago.

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