They include the killings of 49 journalists in 18 countries from Africa (9), Asia Pacific (12), Europe (2), Latin America (18) and the Middle East and Arab world (8) since the start of 2019. This is a sharp decrease from 95 killings recorded last year and the lowest figure since 2000 when 37 journalists and media staff were killed. This year’s death toll is the fourth lowest since 1990 when the IFJ began publishing annual reports on journalists and media staff killed in the line of duty.
However, the figures also confirm that more media professionals lose their lives to violence in their own countries, communities and cities than in armed conflicts.
“This year is on track to post the lowest level of journalists’ killings for almost two decades and this will be welcome news to journalists all over the world,” said IFJ President Younes Mjahed. “Sadly, every killing is one too many and even this decrease can hardly be attributable to actions by governments to protect journalists whose rights and freedoms are routinely violated. Whilst the number of killings has gone down, threats, jailing, online harassment, censorship and self-censorship and the use of legal and administrative measures continue to undermine media freedom and human rights around the world.”
Mexico tops the list of the most dangerous countries with ten killed, handing Latin America the highest regional death toll of 18 killings. Asia Pacific recorded 12 fatalities, Africa nine and the Middle East and Arab World follows with eight. In Europe, two journalists were killed.
The drop in killings is in part due to the collapse of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has reduced media exposure to the conflict’s extreme violence and partly because of the increasing reluctance of foreign reporters to cover remaining hot spots such as Yemen.
“The loss of lives among journalists and media workers in several conflict zones in recent years due to lack of security has deterred many colleagues from covering these events from the field,” added IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger. “While it is justified for journalists to exercise caution, the lack of investment in – and support for - media safety make people less informed about matters of public interest.”
The full list of journalists and media staff killed in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross fire incidents during 2019 will be published on 31 December 2019.
The Federation also used the Human Rights Day to highlight other serious violations of journalists’ rights around the world, including the on-going attacks on media professionals in Palestine, Pakistan and the Philippines, the arrest of their colleagues in Turkey and Burundi, the assaults on media staff covering protests in France and Hong Kong as well widespread gender-based violence off and online.