Ninety-three journalists and media staff were killed around the world in the course of their work in 2016, with Iraq and Afghanistan the deadliest countries, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said.
The IFJ said on Friday the number included those killed in targeted attacks, bomb blasts or caught in the cross-fire. A further 29 died in plane crashes in Colombia and Russia.
Though the number is lower than in previous years, the IFJ warned against complacency and continued impunity. Justice has been served for just four percent of journalists killed worldwide.
“Any decrease in violence against journalist and media personnel is always welcome but these figures… leave little room for comfort and reinforce hopes for the end of the security crisis in the media sector,” Philippe Leruth, IFJ president, said in a statement.
“There cannot be impunity for these crimes.”
Regionally, the Middle East was deadliest with 30 killings, followed by Asia-Pacific with 28, Latin America with 24, Africa with eight and Europe with three, the watchdog said.
IFJ said it was aware that there many more journalists who had disappeared through the course of the year.
“The numbers could be higher if it weren’t for lack of credible information on these missing cases and for the self-censorship by journalists in some countries to avoid drawing the unwelcome attention of crime barons,” added Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary.
“There is, therefore, urgency in pressing governments to investigate all forms of violence, including killings and disappearances, in a speedy and credible manner to protect the physical integrity and professional independence of journalists.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), based in New York, said in a report earlier in December that impunity fostered acts of self-censorship. Many journalists were being intimidated into exile or being to forced withdraw from the field completely.
The CPJ cited the independent Pakistan Press Foundation, who in November said: “Threats and violence have forced many journalists to move from these danger zones and to leave the profession or to resort to self-censorship, particularly in conflict areas.”
The CPJ said Syria was the deadliest country for journalists in 2016, followed by Iraq and Yemen.
The number of journalists who have been killed in Syria since the war began in 2011 is now at least 107.
Countries with the highest numbers of media killings