By Edward Etuka
A total of 45 journalists were killed worldwide in 2021, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said on Friday – “one of the lowest death tolls” it has recorded for any year.
The figure tracked closely with a toll of 46 killings of journalists given two weeks ago by another media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (known by its initials RSF), which also noted it as its lowest-ever since starting its tallies in 1995.
“While this decrease is welcome news, it is a small comfort in the face of continued violence,” the Brussels-based IFJ said in a statement.
The toll included nine in Afghanistan, the highest number suffered by a single country.
Elsewhere, eight died in Mexico, four in India and three in Pakistan.
The IFJ said the media workers “more often than not are killed for exposing corruption, crime and abuse of power in their communities, cities and countries”.
According to the group’s count, the Asia-Pacific region — which includes Afghanistan — was the deadliest, with 20 killings. Then came the Americas, with 10, Africa, with eight, Europe with six, and the Middle East and Arab countries with just one. It also mentioned the death of two journalists in a “deadly accident” in Iran.
While “the risks associated with armed conflict have reduced in recent years” because fewer journalists were able to report on the ground, “the threats of crime gang and drug cartels’ rule from the slums in Mexico to the streets of European cities in Greece and the Netherlands continue to increase”, it added.
IFJ Secretary-General Anthony Bellanger emphasised his organisation’s support for a UN convention for the protection of journalists to “ensure accountability for journalists’ killings”.
The IFJ’s figures differed slightly from those given by RSF, which counted seven journalists killed in Mexico, six in Afghanistan, and four each in Yemen and India.