A total of 50 journalists were killed worldwide in 2020, according to the second part of the annual round-up of abusive treatment and violence against journalists, published on Tuesday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
While the number of journalists killed in countries at war continues to fall, more are being murdered in countries, not at war.
RSF tallied 50 cases of journalists killed in connection with their work from 1 January to 15 December 2020, a number similar to 2019 (when 53 journalists were killed), although fewer journalists have been in the field this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
More journalists are being killed in countries considered to be “at peace.” In 2016, 58 per cent of media fatalities took place in war zones. Now only 32 per cent of the fatalities are in war-torn countries such as Syria or Yemen or in countries with low or medium-intensity conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. In other words, 68 per cent (more than two thirds) of the fatalities are in countries “at peace,” above all Mexico (with eight journalists killed), India (four), the Philippines (three) and Honduras (three).
Of all the journalists killed in connection with their work in 2020, 84 per cent were knowingly targeted and deliberately murdered, as compared to 63 per cent in 2019. Some were murdered in a particularly barbaric manner.
In the 2020 annual round-up of journalists who are detained, held hostage or missing at the end of the year, published on 14 December, RSF reported that 387 journalists are currently detained in connection with their work. This is virtually the same as a year ago and means the number of journalists detained worldwide is still at a historically high level.
2020 has also seen a 35 per cent increase in the number of women journalists arbitrarily detained, and a fourfold increase in arrests of journalists during the first three months of Covid-19’s spread around the world. Fourteen journalists who were arrested in connection with their coverage of the pandemic are still being held.