As the year 2022 sets to end its journey after some days, it has been termed as another deadly year for working journalists across the globe with casualties as high as 115 in 29 countries. India has slightly improved its statistics from 15 media-victims in 2020, 6 casualties in 2021 to 4 in 2022, whereas once known as a troubled region in the country (surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet-China, Myanmar and Bangladesh) Northeast has not reported any journo-murder in the last five consecutive years.
Around the world, the number of journo-victims is increased by 45% this year compared to 2021 (79 casualties). It is the highest number of casualties since 2018 with a brutal deterioration in Europe due to the war in Ukraine, said Blaise Lempen, president of the Geneva-based global media safety and rights body Press Emblem Campaign, adding that PEC strongly condemns these attacks and calls for those responsible for these crimes to be brought to justice as quickly as possible.
By region, Latin America is ahead with 39 journalists killed, followed by Europe with 37 victims, then Asia 30, Africa 7 and North America 2. Europe experienced the worst deterioration in the safety of journalists since the wars in former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1999. In Ukraine, it is very difficult to establish the exact circumstances of the deaths of journalists in the absence of an independent investigation. At least 34 victims (including 8 foreign nationals) have been counted since the Russian invasion that started on 24 February. No less than 8 journalists were killed in the line of duty, 12 others on Russian shelling attacks and at least 14 as fighters in the Ukrainian army.
After Ukraine, Mexico remains the most dangerous country with 17 victims since 1 January. The media professionals become targets of the criminal gangs in a climate of violence and impunity. Though it’s very difficult to establish exact circumstances of the death of journalists, other countries with journo-casualties are recorded respectively as Haiti (8 victims), Pakistan (6), Philippines (5), Colombia, India (4 each), Bangladesh, Israel/Palestine, Yemen (3 each), Brazil, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, USA (2 each), Central African Republic, Chile, DR Congo, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Paraguay, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and Vietnam (1 each).
Marking the last international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists on 2 November, the PEC observed that a slow progress is made over the crisis, but it’s still insufficient and more needs to be done to fight impunity on the ground. It welcomed the global campaign for the adoption of an international convention dedicated to the protection of media professionals, formally launched at 51st session of the UNHRC in Geneva. The convention highlights existing weaknesses & loopholes in international humanitarian & human rights law and the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms.
In 2021, 79 media persons were killed where Afghanistan topped the list (12) followed by Mexico (10), Pakistan (7), India (6), Philippines, Yemen (4 each), Democratic Republic of Congo 3, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina-Faso, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, Turkey (2 each), Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Netherlands, Syria, USA (1 each). The year 2020 witnessed the killing of 92 media persons where India topped the list (15) followed by Mexico (12), Pakistan (8), Afghanistan (7), Iraq, Honduras (5 each), Philippines, Syria (4 each), Nigeria, Venezuela (3 each), Brazil, Colombia, Somalia (2 each), Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Turkey (1 each).
Pakistan also continues to be dangerous countries for the media professionals in the recent past. The country lost journalists Sadaf Naeem, Arshad Sharif, Muhammad Younis, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasnain Shah, Murtaza Shar and Athar Mateen in different incidents in 2022. Naeem, a Pak television reporter and mother of two children, was crushed to death as she fell from a truck during the political march led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Another broadcast journalist Sharif, who remained critical to Pak military agencies, was shot dead in Nairobi by the Kenyan police personnel.
India witnessed the murder of journalists Rohit Kumar Biswal, Sudhir Saini, Juned Khan Pathan and Subhash Kumar Mahato in 2022. Eight north-eastern States including Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura have completed another year with no incident of journo-murder.
Last time, the region witnessed two journo-casualties in 2017, as Tripura reported the murder of Shantanu Bhowmik and Sudip Datta Bhaumik in separate incidents. It also witnessed the horrific killing of three media persons in 2013, as Sujit Bhattacharya, Ranjit Chowdhury and Balaram Ghosh were stabbed to death in Agartala.
India’s eastern neighbour Bangladesh recorded three media-casualties (Hashibur Rahaman Rubel, Mohiuddin Sarker Nayeem and Abdul Bari) in 2022, whereas another neighbouring country Myanmar lost photojournalist Aye Kyaw and reporter Pu Tui Dim to the relentless military atrocities. It’s a matter of relief that there was no report of journalist’s murder in Afghanistan this year, compared to 12 casulalties after the Taliban forces acquired power in Kabul last year. Many Afghan journalists have however left the country to escape the organisational atrocities. Other neighbours have not reported any incident of journo-murder during the year.