Russia’s war in Ukraine, chaos in Haiti and rising violence by criminal groups in Mexico contributed to a 30% spike in the number of journalists killed doing their work in 2022 over the previous year, according to a new report released on December 9.
The International Federation of Journalists says that 67 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world so far this year, up from 47 last year.
The Brussels-based group also tallied 375 journalists currently imprisoned for their work, with the most in China, Myanmar and Turkey. Last year’s report listed 365 journalists behind bars.
With the number of media workers killed on the rise, the group called on governments to take more concrete action to protect journalists and free journalism.
“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,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement.
More media workers were killed covering the war in Ukraine – 12 in total, than in any other country this year, according to the IFJ. Most were Ukrainian but also included those of other nationalities such as American documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud.
Another notable example took place in the opening days of the invasion, involving the celebrated Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin. On April 1, his remains and the body of fellow journalist Oleksiy Chernyshov were found in a forest near Huta-Mezhyhirska, a village 19 miles north of the capital, Kyiv.
It was speculated that Levin may have been searching Russian-occupied woodlands for his missing image-taking drone. Reporters Without Borders conducted an investigation into the killings and concluded that the journalists had been “coldly executed” by Russian troops.
Many deaths occurred in the first chaotic weeks of the war, though threats to journalists continue as the fighting drags on.
The IFJ said “the rule by terror of criminal organizations in Mexico, and the breakdown of law and order in Haiti, have also contributed to the surge in killings.” 2022 has been one of the deadliest ever for journalists in Mexico, which is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters outside a war zone.
The group recorded five deaths of journalists amid this year’s political crisis in Pakistan, and warned of new threats to journalists in Colombia and continued danger for journalists in the Philippines despite new leadership there.
It also called out the shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting from a Palestinian refugee camp. The Arab network formally asked the International Criminal Court to investigate her death.
The Brussels-based IFJ represents 600,000 media professionals from trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries. The report was released on the eve of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.