“The surge in the killings of journalists and other media workers is a grave cause of concern and yet another wake up call for governments,” IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement, calling journalism a critical pillar of democracy.
The fallen include Brent Renaud, an award-winning American journalist who was shot while reporting near Kyiv in March. Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, a 24-year-old who was working in Ukraine as a fixer, one of journalism’s most dangerous and thankless jobs, died with Pierre Zakrzewski, a Fox News cameraman, when their vehicle was hit by incoming fire the same month.
In the United States, Jeff German, an investigative journalist at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was found dead at his home, apparently stabbed to death, in September. His colleagues did reporting and on-the-ground detective work to help authorities find the suspected killer.
In the West Bank, Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran correspondent wearing a helmet and protective vest labeled “PRESS” in large white letters, was shot and killed in May.
Mexico, historically one of the most dangerous places for the media, was where at least 11 journalists were killed this year. Among them were Sheila Johana García Olivera and Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi, who were shot in a car outside a convenience store. Mollinedo Falconi’s brother said she had received threats for her work, The Washington Post reported.
At least 375 journalists and media workers are behind bars around the world, the group said. That figure is a new high since the IFJ started publishing lists of jailed journalists two years ago, it added. There were at least 84 media workers imprisoned in mainland China and Hong Kong, topping the list, while Myanmar came second with 64 and Turkey third with 51.
“These figures make for grim reading and cast serious doubts on the political will on the part of governments to address such grave threats to media freedom,” Bellanger added.