Journalists killed for reporting double in 2020: CPJ

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Journalists demonstrate against the murder of their colleague Maria Helena Ferral at Lerdo square in Xalapa, Veracruz state, Mexico on April 1, 2020.
Journalists demonstrate against the murder of their colleague Maria Helena Ferral at Lerdo square in Xalapa, Veracruz state, Mexico on April 1, 2020.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists(CPJ) said the number of journalists singled out for murder in reprisal for their work more than doubled this year.

Globally, at least 30 journalists were killed on duty in 2020, including 21 reprisal murders, up from 10 murders last year, CPJ said in its report released today.

However, the number of journalists killed in combat or crossfire fell to a 20-year low.

“It’s appalling that the murders of journalists have more than doubled in the last year, and this escalation represents a failure of the international community to confront the scourge of impunity,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Countries with significant numbers of murders included Mexico and Afghanistan.

Mexico has long been the most dangerous country for journalists in the Western hemisphere.

This year, at least five journalists were killed there, including four retaliatory murders.

Journalists covering Mexico work in an environment of violent drug traffickers and entrenched corruption, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has not shown the political will to combat impunity.

Most recently, a murder and a series of threats to the media by a suspected criminal gang have decimated reporting in the city of Iguala, in Guerrero state.

Worldwide, criminal groups were the most frequently suspected killers of journalists.

However in one particularly appalling case, government officials in Iran executed journalist Roohallah Zam on December 12 after he was sentenced to death for his reporting on 2017 anti-government protests.

Globally, three journalists were killed in combat or crossfire this year, the fewest since 2000, as the COVID-19 pandemic dominated media attention and restricted travel.

All three were killed in Syria by suspected Russian airstrikes. The remaining journalists were killed on other dangerous assignments that turned violent, such as civil unrest in Iraq and Nigeria.

CPJ is still investigating the deaths of at least 15 other journalists this year to determine whether journalism was the motive. CPJ’s analysis of journalists killed for their work is based on data as of December 15, 2020.

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