The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), reported on Monday that eighty-six (86) journalists and media professionals were killed worldwide in 2022, i.e. one all the four days.
These figures, notes UNESCO, underline the “serious risks” that journalists continue to run in the exercise of their function and their great vulnerability.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, underlined that “after several consecutive years of decline, the sharp increase in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming”.
Quoted in a press release from her organization, Azoulay said that “the authorities must redouble their efforts to put an end to these crimes and ensure that their perpetrators are condemned, because indifference is an important factor in this climate of violence”. .
The peak in murders reached in 2022 marks a reversal of the positive trend observed in recent years: from 99 murders committed in 2018, the number had fallen to an average of 58 murders per year from 2019 to 2021, according to the Observatory of the UNESCO journalists killed, adds the same source.
These figures are a reminder that throughout the world, the rule of law is crisscrossed by “growing cracks”, and testify to the inability of States to fulfill their obligations in terms of protecting journalists, preventing and prosecuting crimes against against them, we note.
While all regions were affected, Latin America and the Caribbean was the most dangerous region for journalists in 2022, with 44 murders, more than half of all those committed worldwide.
Asia and the Pacific recorded 16 killings, while 11 journalists were killed in Eastern Europe.
According to UNESCO, in about half of the cases, journalists were not killed while carrying out their duties: they were travelling, at home, in car parks or other public places when they been targeted.
He added that this situation is a continuation of a trend observed in recent years and implies that there is no safe place for journalists, even during their free time.
The number of journalists killed in countries in conflict rises to 23 in 2022, up from 20 the previous year, so the overall sharp increase in the number of murders is mainly in countries not experiencing conflict. That number nearly doubled from 35 cases in 2021 to 61 in 2022, accounting for three-quarters of all murders committed last year.
These journalists were killed for different reasons, including retaliation for reporting on organized crime, armed conflict, the rise of extremism, or covering sensitive topics such as corruption, environmental crimes, abuse of power. or demonstrations, notes the press release.
While progress has been made over the past five years, the impunity rate for murders of journalists remains particularly high (86%), hampering the work of journalists and jeopardizing freedom of expression across the country. world, observes UNESCO, adding that this proves that the fight against impunity remains an urgent commitment for which international cooperation must be further mobilised.
In addition to killings, journalists continue to be threatened by multiple forms of violence, such as kidnappings, arbitrary detentions, legal harassment or digital violence, especially against women journalists.
UNESCO’s report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression 2021/2022 highlights these challenges. Thus, laws against defamation, cyber-defamation and the dissemination of “false information” are sometimes used as a means of limiting freedom of expression, creating a harmful environment for journalists.