Forty-nine journalists died across the globe in 2019, and 57 journalists are being held hostage, mostly in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Ukraine.
Rabat – Paris-based international non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released its annual report. This year, 49 journalists, including three women, died on assignment around the world, representing the lowest death toll in 16 years.
About 80 journalists a year have lost their lives on average over the last 20 years, said the organization. RSF added that most of the journalists who lost their lives this year died while covering conflicts in Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Among the victims are 36 professional journalists, 10 non-professionals, and 3 media collaborators. More than half of them (29) were killed in peace zones and more than 60% were deliberately targeted.
Head of RSF, Christophe Deloire, warned that the number of journalists killed in countries supposedly at peace was still alarmingly high, with 10 deaths in Mexico alone.
“Latin America, with a total of 14 reporters killed across the continent, has become as deadly as the Middle East,” he said.
While the number of fatalities in conflict zones notably fell, Deloire stated that “more and more journalists are being assassinated for their work in democratic countries, which is a real challenge to democracy.”
Though the number of fatalities among journalists fell in 2019, more are being incarcerated, according to RSF.
RSF recorded a 12% rise from last year’s figures, with 389 detainees.
Nearly half of the journalists (186) are detained in three countries; China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian kingdom has faced heavy criticism for brutally killing prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its embassy in Istanbul on November 2018.
“China, which has intensified its repression of the [mostly Muslim] Uighur minority, alone holds a third of the journalists locked up in the world,” RSF said.
Meanwhile, 57 journalists are being held hostage across the globe, mostly in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Ukraine.
“There has been no notable freeing of hostages this year despite major developments in Syria,” the RSF, leading the NGO to fear for the worst for many of those abducted.
In 2019, there have been no reports of missing journalists compared to three journalists reported missing in 2018.