Journalists' rights group counts 94 media workers killed this year, most of them in Gaza

BRUSSELS (AP) — A leading organization representing journalists worldwide expressed deep concern Friday at the number of media professionals killed around the globe doing their jobs in 2023, with Israel’s war with Hamas claiming more journalists than any conflict in over 30 years.

In its annual count of media worker deaths, the International Federation of Journalists said 94 journalists had been killed so far this year and almost 400 others had been imprisoned.

The figure for deaths is up from 67 in the same period of 2022 — including 12 killed in Ukraine — and double the total of 47 recorded for the whole of 2021.

The group called for better protection for media workers and for their attackers to be held to account.

“The imperative for a new global standard for the protection of journalists and effective international enforcement has never been greater,” said IFJ President Dominique Pradalié.

The group said 68 journalists had been killed covering the Israeli-Hamas war since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 — more than one a day and accounting for 72% of all media deaths worldwide this year. It said the overwhelming majority of them were Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces continue their offensive.

“The war in Gaza has been more deadly for journalists than any single conflict since the IFJ began recording journalists killed in the line of duty in 1990,” the group said, adding that deaths have come at “a scale and pace of loss of media professionals’ lives without precedent.”

Ukraine also “remains a dangerous country for journalists” almost two years since Russia's invasion, the organization said. It said three reporters or media workers had been killed in that war so far this year.

The organization also deplored media deaths in Afghanistan, the Philippines, India, China and Bangladesh.

It expressed concern that crimes against media workers are going unpunished and urged governments “to shed full light on these murders and to put in place measures to ensure the safety of journalists.”

It noted a drop in the number of journalists killed in North and South America, from 29 last year to seven so far in 2023. The group said the three Mexicans, one Paraguayan, one Guatemalan, one Colombian and one American were slain while investigating armed groups or the embezzlement of public funds.

In Africa, the organization said that it “deplores four particularly shocking murders,” including two in Cameroon and one each in Sudan and Lesotho, “which have failed to be fully investigated to date.”

In all, 393 media workers were being held in prison so far this year, the group said. The biggest number were jailed in China and Hong Kong — 80 journalists — followed by 54 in Myanmar, 41 in Turkey, 40 in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea, 35 in Belarus and 23 in Egypt.