Killings on all fronts

Killings on all fronts
Killings on all fronts
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The occupation assassinated Sherine Abu Aqelah in May 2022 (Issam Al-Rimawi / Anatolia)

The Committee to Protect Journalists described the year 2022 as “bloody” for workers in the sector, during which at least 67 journalists and media workers were killed, in a toll that is the highest since 2018, and an increase of about 50 percent from 2021, amid a sharp escalation in crimes committed in America. Latin.

In its annual report issued on Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists confirmed the killing of at least 41 journalists and media workers for reasons directly related to their work. More than half of the 67 murders took place in just three countries: Ukraine (15), Mexico (13) and Haiti (7), the highest annual figures ever recorded for these countries. In Mexico and Haiti, reporters have been “the target of brutal killings” because of their work, according to the commission, which noted that the vast majority of perpetrators of such crimes have not been held accountable.

The committee traces three types of murders of journalists related to their work: targeted murders with the aim of retaliating against the journalist for his media coverage, and this is the largest category so far, and the killing of journalists in battles or as a result of crossfire, and the death of journalists on other dangerous missions. It also documented the killing of support workers in the media field, such as translators, drivers, and security guards, and one such case was recorded in 2022 in Kazakhstan.

Among the findings of the committee in its report is that the murder of Palestinian journalist Sherine Abu Aqleh, last May, sheds light on Israel’s impunity. It considered that “the Israeli government has so far failed to conduct a transparent investigation into the killing of Sherine Abu Aqleh, or to take any steps to bring those responsible to justice.” The committee stressed that the assassination of Abu Aqleh constituted “the latest episode in a series of Israeli impunity for its crimes against the press,” as it took place a year after the Israeli occupation bombed several buildings in the Gaza Strip that housed offices of media institutions, including the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. At least two other Palestinian journalists, Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein, were killed in 2018, after they were shot while covering demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, and a United Nations investigation committee later concluded that Israeli snipers had shot them deliberately. The committee pointed out that “the Israeli authorities have not yet clarified what investigations, if any, they have launched, or whether anyone has been brought to justice for the killing of these two journalists.”

The committee also warned that journalists covering the Ukrainian war face “enormous dangers”, as no less than 15 of them were killed in 2022, following Russia’s comprehensive invasion of this country on February 24 of the year. It confirmed that 13 of these journalists were killed while they were engaged in collecting news and press coverage, while it is still investigating the killing of two other journalists. Most of these were killed in the early stages of the war, while the commission has not documented any case of killing a journalist related to his work in Ukraine since the killing of French photographer Frederic Lecric-Imhoff, in late May.

Despite the war in Ukraine, Latin America was the “deadliest” region for journalism workers over the past year. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the deaths of 30 journalists there, about half of the total number of journalists killed worldwide, “reflecting the uncommon scale of danger journalists face in this region while covering topics such as crime, corruption, gang violence, and environmental issues.” According to the commission, at least 12 journalists were killed for reasons directly related to their work in Latin America, while it is still investigating the motives behind the killing of 18 others.

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In Mexico, the committee documented the killing of 13 journalists, the highest number ever recorded by Mexico in one year. In three of these cases, the journalists were killed in retaliation for their coverage of crime and politics, and they had received threats prior to their killing. The committee is investigating the motives behind the killing of the other ten journalists. Mexico has laws and bodies dealing specifically with the protection of journalists, at both the state and federal levels, but “these mechanisms have proven ineffective in maintaining the security and safety of journalists,” according to the New York-based non-governmental commission. Veteran broadcast journalist María Guadalupe Lourdes Maldonado López was registered with the protection mechanism in Baja California but was shot dead in her car in Tijuana, Mexico, in January 2022. Authorities were also about to include the two journalists, Alfonso Margarito Martínez. Esquibel and Armando Linares López, in the Mexican Federal Protection Mechanism before they were killed.

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In Haiti, journalists covering gang violence, the political crisis, and the state of civil unrest triggered by the assassination of President Jovenel Moyes in July 2021 faced an alarming rise in violent attacks against the press. During 2022, at least five journalists were killed for reasons related to their work, while the committee is investigating the motives behind the killing of other journalists. In two of these cases, the two journalists were killed by the police.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also documented the killing of four journalists for reasons related to their work in Brazil, Chile and Colombia, and is still investigating the motives behind the killing of six reporters in Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay.

Local reporters covering politics, crime and corruption are frequent targets. All four murders in the Philippines targeted broadcast journalists covering local politics, underlining the dangers facing journalism in a country that in June experienced a transition The reins of government went to the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The shooting and killing of broadcaster Percival Mabasa in October was “one of the particularly egregious killings that sparked feelings of anger and protest among journalists in the Philippines,” with police later claiming that the head of the corrections bureau and another prison official had ordered it. He killed Mabasa in revenge for broadcasting allegations of corruption.

The year 2022 also witnessed the first murder of an American journalist related to his work, since a gunman shot and killed five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper, in Maryland in 2018. In September 2022, Las Vegas Journal reporter Jeff German was stabbed to death by a local official who had hoped to win the election but lost after German covered allegations of mismanagement in his office. The perpetrator was arrested shortly after the crime and charged with murder.

Another reporter covering corruption during 2022 was also killed, Pakistani Arshad Sharif, who was shot dead by Kenyan police on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi, in October. Sharif previously worked as a television anchor in Pakistan, where he criticized corrupt practices. Pakistani investigators said that his killing was “a planned assassination directed against him” and not a case of mistaken identity as Kenyan police claimed. No one has been charged for this crime.

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