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The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that nearly 1,700 journalists have been killed in 20 years

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An analysis published by the international non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders reveals that nearly 1,700 journalists have been killed worldwide over the past 20 years.

The Paris-based organization said the two decades between 2003 and 2022 were “particularly deadly decades for those serving the right to information”.

“Behind the characters, there are the faces, the personalities, the talents and commitment of those who paid with their lives to gather information, their search for the truth and their passion for journalism,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

Reporters Without Borders said that Iraq and Syria are the most dangerous countries to work as a journalist, with a total of 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the total number worldwide.

They are followed by Mexico (125 dead), the Philippines (107), Pakistan (93), Afghanistan (81) and Somalia (78).

The “darkest years” were 2012 and 2013, “largely because of the war in Syria”. The report said there were 144 murders in 2012 and 142 the following year.

This peak was “followed by a gradual decline and then historically low numbers from 2019 onwards”.

Putin effect

But deaths increased again in 2022, in part because of the war in Ukraine. So far this year, 58 journalists have been killed in the course of their work, up from 51 in 2021.

Eight journalists have been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February. This compares to a total of 12 media deaths there over the previous 19 years.

Ukraine is currently the most dangerous country in Europe for the media, after Russia itself, with 25 journalists killed over the past 20 years.

“Since (President) Vladimir Putin came to power, Russia has witnessed systematic attacks on press freedom – including fatal ones – as Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly reported.

“Including the high-profile murder of Anna Politkovskaya on 7 October 2006,” the rights organization said.

The outcome of the Americas

Journalists face the greatest risks around the world in areas where armed conflict has occurred.

But RSF stressed that “countries where there is no official war are not necessarily safe for journalists and some are near the top of the list of those where killings have taken place.

“In fact, more journalists have been killed in ‘zones of peace’ than in ‘zones of war’ over the past two decades, in most cases because they were investigating organized crime and corruption.”

The Americas accounted for nearly half of the journalist deaths, many of them in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Honduras.

Reporters Without Borders said: “It is clear that America at the present time is the most dangerous continent in the world for the media.”

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