PARIS – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published on Thursday a provisional tally showing that more professional journalists were killed worldwide in the first nine months of 2018 than in all of 2017.
This independent NGO, based in Paris, with a network spanning 130 countries and consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, announced this year’s total stood at 56 on Oct. 1, compared to 55 in all of last year.
Half were killed in war zones, while RSF continues investigating another 10 cases.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said: “The alarming number of deaths is a reminder of the urgent need to provide journalists with more protection. RSF is calling for the creation of a Special Representative of the United Nations secretary-general.”
He added their initiative was backed by a number of governments, 130 news outlets, organizations and journalists’ unions worldwide.
If 2017 was the least deadly year for media personnel in 14 years, this was not the case for 2018.
Half of these deaths, around 29, happened in war zones with Afghanistan topping the list of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists, with 13 deaths so far this year.
On April 30, nine journalists died when a double bombing hit Kabul.
After Afghanistan, Yemen accounted for five killed, either in air strikes or in the prisons of this war-torn country, which ranks 167th out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index.
In Africa, two journalists were killed in Somalia while, in the Central African Republic, a great deal of mystery surrounds the deaths of three Russian journalists slain by unidentified gunmen in July while investigating the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company also operating in Syria.
In 2018, a total of six professional journalists were killed in Pakistan, Palestine, and Syria – two in each country.
In the case of Syria, the death toll has dropped compared to 2017 when nine journalists were killed but the RSF report warned of the dangers surrounding Syrian citizen-journalists covering the conflict. Six citizen-journalists and one media worker have been slain in Syria this year.