The media rights group Reporters Without Borders says at least 57 journalists have been killed across the world in 2016. The France-based group said in its annual report on Monday that most of the victims had lost their lives in Syria and Afghanistan, with 19 and 10 fatalities reported there respectively. In Afghanistan, all of the 10 journalists were deliberately targeted because of their job. Seven, including three women, lost their lives in a Taliban attack on a minibus used by the country’s private Tolo TV channel in January. According to the report, nine of the journalists were killed in Mexico, five in Iraq and another five in Yemen, which saw more than 11,400 people killed in the Saudi brutal aggression since March 2015.
Reporters Without Borders noted that nearly all of those killed were locally-based journalists. The NGO, which is also known by its French acronym RSF, said nine bloggers and eight media workers were killed during the same period. The group reported that the figure had decreased compared to the death toll recorded in 2015, when 67 journalists were killed. It, however, said the decline was due to “the fact that many journalists have fled countries that became too dangerous, especially Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Burundi.”
The RSF stressed that the journalists’ withdrawal from these crisis-hit countries had created “news and information black holes where impunity reigns.” The group also said the number of murdered journalists had dropped as a result of the “terror” imposed by what it called “press freedom predators” that shut media outlets arbitrarily and gag reporters. The report noted that journalists in countries such as Mexico are forced to self-censoring to avoid being killed. “The violence against journalists is more and more deliberate,” RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said, adding, “They are clearly being targeted and murdered because they are journalists.”
“This alarming situation reflects the glaring failure of the international initiatives aimed at protecting them, and is a death warrant for independent reporting in those areas where all possible means are used to impose censorship and propaganda, especially by fundamentalist groups in the Middle East,” he added. The RSF also urged incoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special representative for the protection of journalists.