Nearly 1,700 journalists have been killed across the world over the past 20 years, an average of more than 80 a year, according to a report published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The years since 2003 have been described as the "especially deadly decades", with 2022 leading with the highest number of deaths in the past four years. This year recorded 58 killings of journalists, 13.7 per cent higher than in 2021 when 51 journalists were killed.
"Behind the figures, there are the faces, personalities, talent and commitment of those who have paid with their lives for their information gathering, their search for the truth and their passion for journalism," RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said.
According to the Paris-based media rights campaigners, the two countries with the highest death tolls are Iraq and Syria, with a combined total of 578 journalists killed in the past 20 years, or more than a third of the worldwide total. They are followed by Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine.
The report comes after the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by Israeli forces while on assignment covering Israeli raids in the Jenin area in the occupied West Bank in May.
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The number of journalist deaths also increased this year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which resulted in eight journalists being killed in Ukraine. This compares with a total of 12 media deaths in the country over the preceding 19 years.
Russia continues to be Europe's deadliest country for the media, with the biggest number of journalists killed during the past 20 years. Since Vladimir Putin took over, Russia has seen systematic attacks on press freedom, including deadly ones, the report said.
America makes up the world's most dangerous continent for the media, making up for almost half of the journalist murders, with Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Honduras responsible for most of the deaths.
"America is nowadays clearly the world's most dangerous continent for the media," RSF said.
RSF also stressed that "countries where no war is officially taking place are not necessarily safe for reporters and some of them are near the top of the list of those where killings have occurred."
"In fact, more journalists have been killed in 'zones at peace' than in 'zones at war' during the past two decades, in most cases because they were investigating organised crime and corruption," the report added.
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