Fifty journalists killed worldwide in 2020, most of them 'deliberately targeted'

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Fifty journalists were killed in connection with their work this year from January 1 to December 15, most of them deliberately targeted, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The report stated that though the number is almost the same as last year (53), fewer journalists worked in the field this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The figure shows an increase in the targeting of reporters investigating organised crime, corruption or environmental issues, it added.

'Deliberately targeted'

According to the annual report, eighty-four percent of those killed this year were “deliberately targeted” for their work, compared to 63 percent in 2019.

It highlighted murders in Mexico, India and Pakistan.

"For several years now, Reporters Without Borders has noted that investigative journalists are really in the crosshairs of states, or cartels," said Pauline Ades-Mevel, RSF editor-in-chief.

Mexico was the deadliest country, with eight killed. “Links between drug traffickers and politicians remain, and journalists who dare to cover these or related issues continue to be the targets of barbaric murders,” the report reads.

None of the Mexico killings had yet been punished, added RSF, which has compiled annual data on violence against journalists around the globe since 1995.

Five journalists were killed in war-torn Afghanistan, it noted noting an increase in targeted attacks on media workers in recent months even as peace talks between the government and Taliban are ongoing.

RSF also highlighted the case of Iranian opposition figure Ruhollah Zam, who ran a popular social media channel that rallied regime opponents, and who was executed in December. His execution “confirms Iran’s record as a country that has officially put the most journalists to death in the past half-century,” it said.

This year’s figure brings the number of journalists killed over the past 10 years to 937.

Violence against media workers

The report added that seventy percent of the victims were killed in countries not at war. “This year’s figures confirm a trend that began in 2016 and has become more marked over the past two years: the number of journalists killed in war zones keeps on falling. It is now countries considered to be “at peace” that are proving to be the deadliest for journalists,” it added.

Ades-Mevel said RSF had also noted the “developing” trend of violence against media workers covering protests, notably in the United States following the killing of George Floyd, and in France against a controversial new security law.

(with AFP)