Ukraine, Mexico emerge as most dangerous countries for journalists in 2022

Ukraine and Mexico emerge as the most dangerous countries for media work this year, stated the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) in its annual report published in Geneva on Wednesday. Since January, 115 media workers have been killed in 29 countries around the world and the number of victims is increased by 45% compared to last year (79 journo-casulties). 

“It is the highest number of casualties since 2018 with a brutal deterioration in Europe due to the war in Ukraine. By region, Latin America is ahead with 39 journalists killed, followed by Europe with 37 victims, then Asia 30, Africa 7 and North America 2,” said PEC president Blaise Lempen. He strongly condemns these attacks and calls for those responsible for these crimes to be brought to justice as quickly as possible.

Europe experienced the worst deterioration in the safety of journalists since the wars in former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1999. In Ukraine, it is very difficult to establish the exact circumstances of the deaths of journalists in the absence of an independent investigation. PEC counted 34 victims (including 8 foreign nationals) since the beginning of 24 February Russian invasion. At least 8 journalists were clearly killed in the line of duty, 12 others on Russian shelling attacks or other crimes and at least 14 as fighters in the Ukrainian army (Kyiv institute of mass information). 

After Ukraine, Mexico was the most dangerous country with 17 victims, the highest annual death toll since at least the beginning of the century in this country. They were the target of criminal gangs in a climate of violence and impunity. At the third place with 8 victims, Haiti has experienced significant deterioration due to growing insecurity. Six deaths were recorded in Pakistan, 5 in the Philippines, 4 in Colombia and 4 in India.

Three victims were registered in the following countries: Bangladesh, Honduras, Israël/Palestine, and Yemen. Two deaths were recorded in Brazil, Chad, Ecuador, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, United States of America. Finally, one victim has been identified in the following countries: Central African Republic, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Paraguay, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and Vietnam.

As a positive note, there was no casualties among journalists so far in Afghanistan in 2022 instead of 12 in 2021. However, many journalists were obliged to flee the country. On average more than 2 journalists killed each week. In the last decade (from 2013 to 2022), 1135 journalists were killed, or 113 per year, 2.2 per week, according to figures from the PEC. It hopes that the international community will start in 2023 the work for an international convention to enhance the safety of journalists. It would be a great step forward to better fight against impunity.

Pakistan and India continue to be dangerous countries for media professionals in the recent past, reveals PEC’s south Asia representative Nava Thakuria. Last year Pakistan witnessed the killing of 7 journalists (6 for India) and in 2020 Pakistan lost 8 and India 15 media persons to assailants.

This year, Pakistan reported the killing of Sadaf Naeem, Arshad Sharif, Muhammad Younis, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasnain Shah, Murtaza Shar and Athar Mateen. Naeem, a Pak television reporter was crushed to death as she fell from a truck during the political march of former premier Imran Khan. Another broadcast journalist Sharif, who remained critical to Pak military agencies, was shot dead in Nairobi by Kenya police.

India witnessed the murder of journalists Rohit Kumar Biswal, Sudhir Saini, Juned Khan Pathan and Subhash Kumar Mahato. Three journalists (Hashibur Rahaman Rubel, Mohiuddin Sarker Nayeem and Abdul Bari) were killed in India’s eastern neighbour Bangladesh, where Myanmar lost photojournalist Aye Kyaw and reporter Pu Tui Dim to the relentless military atrocities. India’s other neighbours namely  Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka did not report any incident of journo-murder during the year.