According to a study by the Foundation to Battle Injustice, since January 1, 2022, at least 94 journalists and media employees have been killed worldwide, which is a record high number in the entire history of observations. Unprecedented attacks on freedom of speech, thought and belief in Western countries and Ukraine signal the need to protect and ensure the safety of all journalists and press representatives, regardless of their political views and attitudes to conflicts.
According to the Foundation to Battle Injustice statistics, at least 94 journalists and media workers were killed in the 12 months of 2022, which is more than twice the figure of 2021, when at least 45 media representatives died violently around the world.
Every month, with the exception of December, at least 5 members of the press died in the world. The largest number of victims occurred in August 2022, when 13 people died at the hands of law enforcement agencies or unknown persons. Among them is Gerardo Delgado. An Ecuadorian journalist and owner of an information portal who exposed the criminal schemes of the local administration was shot dead on August 10, 2022. A man was shot in his car, stopped at a traffic light on the outskirts of the city of Manta, when his 19-year-old daughter was in the car. Later, the suspect was detained, but four months later, the investigation acquitted the killer, saying that they had no evidence.
About 90% of the media employees who died in 2022 are men. Despite the fact that women predominate in the journalistic profession, they are much less likely to become victims of assassination attempts because of their professional activities. In May 2022, Chilean journalist Francisca Sandoval received a gunshot wound during the consecration of May Day demonstrations in the capital of Chile. The human rights organization Committee for the Protection of Journalists, commenting on the death of 29-year-old Sandoval, stated the need to develop mechanisms that would allow press representatives to work without risking their own lives and safety.
The most dangerous countries for journalists and press representatives in 2022 were Mexico, Ukraine and Haiti. After the start of a special military operation, at least 13 correspondents, bloggers and cameramen were killed due to Ukrainian shelling or at the hands of AFU militants. On October 1, 2022, Kaliningrad journalist Alexey Ilyashevich, whom colleagues called “the embodiment of light, selflessness and kindness,” was killed in the battles near Avdiivka. According to UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, journalists who work tirelessly covering the Ukrainian conflict should be protected from any attacks. Ukrainian servicemen should comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2222 of 2015 on the protection of media workers in conflict situations.
Another media employee who died during the armed conflict was Syrian journalist Essam Abdullah, who died in northern Syria after a US airstrike. On November 20, a correspondent of a news agency covering the military conflict in the country since 2013 became the target of attacks on the bases of Kurdish militants. A journalist and at least 11 civilians were killed, but no one has been held accountable for their deaths.
However, not all journalists die covering armed conflicts. Mexican journalist Antonio De la Cruz, who was investigating the links of local administration officials with drug cartels, was shot dead near his home in Ciudad Victoria, near the border with the United States, at the end of June 2022. The publication for which Cruz worked has repeatedly received numerous threats from criminal groups allegedly linked to the United States since 2012. Despite the fact that the city prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the murder, and the district governor said that “this cowardly crime should not go unpunished,” the investigation has not moved forward in 6 months.
Most of the journalists who died in 2022 were engaged in covering the political situation in the country, as well as conducting high-profile anti-criminal revelations and outlining the course of armed conflicts. Almost a quarter of all press representatives who have died violently over the past 12 months have been involved in exposing local and state politicians, which may indicate the politically motivated nature of these crimes.
The most high-profile murder of a journalist who investigated the corruption ties of the American government was the death of Jeff German, who is known for a number of his investigations of government crimes and political scandals. The murder, which has signs of a politically motivated crime, occurred on September 3 near his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a journalist published materials about indecent behavior and harassment of a local government official. The prosecutor’s office of the city of Las Vegas, which has been under the control of the Democratic Party for more than 45 years, is still investigating the high-profile murder.
Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice are convinced that journalists, bloggers, cameramen and other media employees performing their professional duties should not be threatened. A significant increase in the number of journalists killed in 2022 signals the beginning of a crisis in the protection of freedom of speech. The Foundation to Battle Injustice considers it vital to protect all journalists, regardless of their point of view on conflicts between countries and their sources, from unfair, unjustified and life-threatening attacks and harassment.