Reporters Without Borders warned that rising violence against journalists is a threat to democracy.
In 2018 half of all journalists killed were deliberately targetted, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday, warning of rising hatred against the media.
According to RSF's 2018 report, at least 63 professional journalists around the world were killed this year; a 15 percent increase compared to last year. The number of fatalities reaches 80 when including all media workers and citizen journalists.
Among them, 49 were deliberately targeted or murdered while 31 were killed while reporting.
“The hatred of journalists that is voiced ... by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
The Paris-based body said that the six most dangerous countries for journalists to work in were Afghanistan (15), Syria (11), Mexico (9), Yemen (8), the United States (6), and India (6).
The shooting of five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, propelled the U.S. into the ranks of the most dangerous countries.
“The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three –India, Mexico, and for the first time the United States– where journalists were killed in cold blood although these countries were not at war or in conflict. Once again, Mexico was the deadliest of the countries not at war, with nine journalists murdered in 2018,” said the report.
The Inter-American Press Association (SIP/IAPA), however, gave a disputing number of journalists murdered in Mexico in 2018. In October, during the 74th IAPA assembly, the organization said 11 journalists were killed in Mexico.
“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion,” the RSF website said.
RSF has also registered 348 journalists who are currently in detention worldwide, compared to 326 in 2017. China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt hold more than half the world’s imprisoned journalists.
RSF also said that currently 60 journalists are being held as hostages, which represents an 11 percent increase since last year. All but one are being held in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Three journalists are missing according to the report.
The world of journalism is rather grim in the present context of rising far-right political organizations and censorship.
“The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies,” Deloire said, adding, “Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda. To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire.”