Record Low Number of Journalists Killed, but Record High Jailed in 2021

Global media watchdogs said that 2021 saw one of the lowest number of journalists killed in work-related incidents since it started countring, but that the number of journalists jailed in 2021 reached a global high.

Handcuffs KeyboardThe number of journalists jailed in 2021 reached in 2021 a global high, with 293 put behind bars across the world. (Photo: Pxhere, License)While UNESCO said that 55 journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2021, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said it recorded 45 murders, compaired to 65 in 2020. Both organizations said this was the lowest annual death toll in over a decade.

Since 1991, the IFJ recorded 2,721 murders of journalists around the world. This includes targeted killings, crossfire fatalities as well as bomb attacks.

"While this decrease is welcome news, it is small comfort in the face of continued violence,” the Brussels-based watchdog said in a statement.

The Asia Pacific region remained the deadliest, with Afghanistan toping the list. The Americas recorded the second highest number with over 10 journalists killed, mostly in Mexico.

The IFJ said that now more journalists and media workers are killed for exposing corruption, crime and abuse of power in their communities, than those who are reporting from armed conflicts, since less media professionals now report from front-lines.

Meanwhile, more journalists are targeted by crime gangs and drug cartels from Mexico to Europe, it said.

“These 45 colleagues we lost to violence this year remind us of the terrible sacrifice journalists across the world continue to pay for serving the public interest and we remain in the debt to them and thousands of others who paid the ultimate price," said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.

He added that the continues to advocate for the adoption of a new United Nations Convention for the Protection of Journalists, which would ensure accountability for journalists’ killings.

“Once again in 2021, far too many journalists paid the ultimate price to bring truth to light. Right now, the world needs independent, factual information more than ever. We must do more to ensure that those who work tirelessly to provide this can do so without fear,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.

Meanwhile, the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) stated that the number of journalists jailed in 2021 reached in 2021 a global high, with 293 put behind bars across the world.

The reason behind the imprisonment of reporters according to CPJ varies across countries but the record number of arrests depicts political turmoil worldwide and increasing intolerance of free press and independent reporting.

"This is the sixth year in a row that CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists imprisoned around the world," said Joel Simon, CPJ Executive Director in a statement. "The number reflects two inextricable challenges – governments are determined to control and manage information, and they are increasingly brazen in their efforts to do so.”

Among the journalists killed in 2021 was Danish Siddiqui, a renowned Reuters photographer who was killed in Afghanistan in July last year.

The CPJ said that China remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with 50 behind bars, followed by Myanmar with 26 reporters arrested after a military coup crackdown. Egypt arrested 25, Vietnam 23 and Belarus 19 journalists.