The number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, as criminal gangs and militant groups targeted reporters working in violent but democratic nations, said a report by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Globally, at least 30 journalists were killed in 2020; 21 of those were singled out for murder in retaliation for their work, a jump from the previous year’s 10 murders, while others were killed in combat or crossfire or on another assignment that turned dangerous. One media worker was also killed.
According to CPJ, Mexico, Afghanistan, and the Philippines had the most retaliatory killings.
The organisation said it is is still investigating the deaths of 15 other journalists worldwide to determine whether journalism was the motive.
While murders rose in 2020, the number of combat-related deaths—three—dropped to the lowest level since 2000, as the intensity of conflicts in the Middle East abated and the COVID-19 pandemic dominated media attention and made it difficult for journalists to travel.All three of the journalists were killed documenting the continuing conflict near Idlib in northern Syria, and perished in airstrikes by suspected Russian forces allied with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad.
In Mexico, at least four journalists were targeted for murder in 2020, and one more was gunned down while reporting from a crime scene; CPJ is investigating the motive in at least four other journalist deaths.