Journalist killings worldwide up nearly 50% in 2022 — UNESCO

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — The number of journalists killed around the world spiked by nearly 50% in 2022, marking “a dramatic reversal of the positive trend seen in recent years,” the United Nations agency UNESCO reported.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay on Monday said 86 journalists and media workers were slain globally last year, or around one case in every four days.

This is up from the average of 58 per year from 2019 to 2021, when the figures had dropped from the 99 deaths in 2018.

“These numbers are a reminder of the growing fissures in rule of law systems worldwide, and highlight states’ failure to fulfill their obligations to protect journalists and prevent and prosecute crimes against them,” Azoulay said in a statement.

The agency noted all regions were affected, but the deadliest for journalists was Latin America and the Caribbean, where 44 killings — or over half of the total — were recorded in 2022.

Sixteen killings were registered in Asia and the Pacific, while there were 11 in Eastern Europe.

For individual countries, UNESCO said the top three deadliest were Mexico with 19, Ukraine with 10, and Haiti with 9.

Its data also showed four media killings were recorded in the Philippines last year: Jaynard Angeles, Federico “Ding” Gempesaw, Renato Blanco, and Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, whose murder case has been particularly high-profile due to alleged involvement of the country’s suspended prisons chief. 

In November 2022, the New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists released a report stating that the Philippines retained its ranking as the seventh worst country when it comes to prosecuting killers of journalists.

According to UNESCO, around half of the victims across the globe were off duty when they were targeted.

It added that the rate of impunity for journalist killings remains high at 86%, "creating a chilling effect for the work of journalists and risking freedom of expression worldwide."

“This proves that combating impunity remains a pressing commitment on which international cooperation must be further mobilized,” Azoulay said.

The director-general listed a variety of reasons behind the killings, including reprisals for reporting on organized crime, armed conflict or the rise of extremism, and covering sensitive subjects such as corruption, environmental crimes, abuse of power, and protests.

On top of these, she said media workers continue to be threatened with multiple forms of violence, such as enforced disappearance, kidnapping and arbitrary detention, legal harassment, and digital violence, particularly against women journalists.