Killings of journalists rose 56% last year compared to 2021, according to new data released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
In a press release published on Monday, the UN agency reported that a total of 86 journalists were killed in 2022 — approximately one every four days — while 55 were killed in 2021.
The recent figures follow a promising decline in journalist killings in recent years, with 58 reporters on average being killed from 2019-2021 — down from 99 in 2018.
"After several years of consecutive declines, the steep rise in the number of journalists killed in 2022 is alarming," said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay. "Authorities must step up their efforts to stop these crimes and ensure their perpetrators are punished because indifference is a major factor in this climate of violence."
Of the 86 journalists killed, more than half (44) died in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Asia and the Pacific region (16) and Eastern Europe (11) also proved to be particularly lethal areas for reporters. In terms of individual countries, Mexico registered the highest number of fatalities (19), followed by Ukraine (10) and Haiti (9).
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Rather concerningly, UNESCO noted that approximately half of the reporters were off duty at the time they were killed. This fact "marks a continuation of a trend in recent years and implies that there are no safe spaces for journalists, even in their spare time."
UNESCO also stated that although "some progress" has been made in recent years, 86% of all journalist killings last year did not result in the person or people responsible being prosecuted: "This proves that combating impunity remains a pressing commitment on which international co-operation must be further mobilised."
The report added that death is not the only form of violence that often threatens reporters: others include "enforced disappearance, kidnapping and arbitrary detention, legal harassment, and digital violence, particularly against women journalists."