The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) published its report on 12 March on journalists and media personnel killed around the world in the line of duty in 2020. The annual report, in its 30th edition, details the circumstances of the 65 murders that occurred during targeted attacks, bombings and crossfire in 16 countries.

The death toll stands at 17 more than in 2019 (49), bringing the total to 2,680 journalists, media workers and victims of violence worldwide since 1990, when the IFJ began publishing its annual reports to highlight a security crisis that continues to worsen in the media.

Figures released this year show that the number of murders of media professionals is more or less at the same level as in the 1990s.

Among the main reasons for the security crisis in journalism, the report cites organized crime, extremist groups and sectarian violence that continue to sow terror among journalists, dozens of whom have paid the ultimate price for their independent reporting around the world.

”In this respect, 2020 was no exception. The ruthless reign of crime barons in Mexico, the violence of extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia, and the intolerance of hardline supporters in India and the Philippines have contributed to the continued bloodshed in the media,said IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger. “The thoughts of the IFJ and the 600,000 members of its affiliated unions accompany all these victims, their families, their friends and all those who are imprisoned, subjected to violence, physically and online harassed.””

The country ranking of the 2020 report puts Mexico at the top of the list for the fourth time in five years with 14 murders, followed by Afghanistan (10), Pakistan (9), India (8), the Philippines (4), Syria (4), while Nigeria and Yemen recorded three murders.

The report also includes two murders in Iraq and Somalia. Finally, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Honduras, Paraguay, Russia and Sweden each recorded one murder.

The report also underlines the Federation’s commitment to continue its campaign against impunity by pressuring governments to assume their responsibilities by investigating the killings of journalists.

In particular, the IFJ calls for the adoption by the UN General Assembly of an International Convention for the Protection and Safety of Journalists.

For the first time, the report lists journalists currently behind bars for their reporting, counting as many as 229 journalists imprisoned in March 2021.

“No democracy worthy of the name can imprison messengers of freedom of

expression. Every day, the IFJ actively works on the ground for the immediate and unconditional release of unjustly imprisoned colleagues,added Anthony Bellanger. The report will be officially launched at an online press conference to be jointly organised on Monday 15 March by the International Federation of Journalists and Fight Impunity, a Brussels-based association that is also leading a fight against impunity.

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