Activists in Lebanon, Beirut take part in a candlelight vigil

Activists in Lebanon, Beirut take part in a candlelight vigil on May 12, 2022 outside a United Nations building to denounce the killing of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.

(Photo: Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images)

'2022 Was Deadly': Killings of Journalists Jumped by Nearly 50%

The deadliest year for media workers since 2018 was driven in large part by the war in Ukraine and a rise in killings in Latin America.

Driven in large part by Russia's war in Ukraine and a rise in violence in Latin America, 2022 was the deadliest year for journalists in four years and saw nearly a 50% increase in murders, killings in crossfire, and deaths as the result of dangerous assignments, according to a report released Tuesday.

In its annual report on the killings of members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) confirmed that at least 41 journalists and media workers were killed in direct connection to their work, including nearly two dozen who were murdered in retaliation for their work. The group is still investigating the motives for the killings to 26 other journalists, bringing the total number of media workers killed last year to 67.

Fifteen journalists were killed while covering the Ukraine war, including at least eight who were killed in crossfire during fighting between the Russians and Ukrainians. Thirteen of them were killed while reporting or gathering news about the war, which began last February.

Though no deaths of journalists on the ground in Ukraine have been reported since last May, the CPJ emphasized that the war zone is still dangerous for reporters; earlier this month at least three journalists were injured by shelling in Kyiv and Druzhkivka, a city in the eastern region of Donetsk.

"Journalists who risk their lives covering Russia's war in Ukraine are civilians under international humanitarian law and should be protected as such," said Gulnoza Said, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, after the shellings.

Combined with killings in Mexico and Haiti, those in Ukraine made up more than half of the 67 killings recorded by CPJ.

Out of 13 journalists killed in Mexico last year, three were confirmed to have been murdered in retaliation for their reporting, and three were officially being "protected" by state and federal protection mechanisms or were in the process of being enrolled in protection programs when they were killed.

The mechanisms "try to provide [journalists] with some degree of protection from the federal government," Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for CPJ, toldCBS News. "This is admittedly not ideal because even federal institutions in Mexico are not fully functional. They have their problems, they have their failings."

Across Latin America, 30 journalists were killed in 2022—nearly half the global total. At least 12 were confirmed to have been killed in direct relation to their work, "a reflection of the outsize risk journalists in the region face while covering topics such as crime, corruption, gang violence, and the environment," according to the CPJ.

As Common Dreams reported in July 2022, rights advocates were joined by nearly two dozen members of the U.S. Congress in demanding an impartial investigation into the murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who were shot dead during a reporting trip regarding land defenders in the Brazilian Amazon.

Pirambu News founder Givanildo Oliveira was also killed in Brazil after publishing a report about a local man suspected of homicide, and following warnings not to report on criminal activity radio journalist Humberto Coronel was shot and killed in Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay. Coronel "sometimes denounced political corruption and the police force's alleged inability to solve crimes," according to CPJ, and months before his killing by an unidentified man, his colleague received a death threat saying he and Coronel "knew too much."

CPJ noted that the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank city of Jenin in May spotlighted "Israeli impunity." The Israeli military said last year that Abu Akleh was killed in an accidental exchange of gunfire and refused to cooperate with a U.S. probe into the killing. Multiple investigations by the U.S., United Nations, and human rights groups determined the Israel Defense Forces had killed the Al Jazeera journalist, either intentionally or unintentionally.

"Abu Akleh's murder was the latest example of Israeli impunity for crimes against the press," wrote Jennifer Dunham, editorial director for CPJ. "It came one year after Israeli forces bombed several buildings in the Gaza Strip housing media offices, including those of The Associated Press and Al Jazeera... In 2018, at least two other Palestinian journalists—Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein—were shot and killed while covering demonstrations in the Gaza Strip; a U.N. commission of inquiry later found that Israeli snipers 'intentionally' shot the two journalists."

"Israeli authorities have not clarified what investigations, if any, they undertook," wrote Dunham, "or whether anyone was brought to justice for the journalists' murders."

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