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According to UNESCO, 86 journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2022 - one murder every four days. That's a 50 percent increase from a year earlier. The statistics highlight the serious risks journalists continue to face in the course of their work.

After several years of consistent decline, the sharp increase in the number of killings of journalists in 2022 is alarming, said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.

According to him, the authorities of countries must take action to stop these crimes and ensure that the perpetrators are punished. Indifference is a major factor in the climate of violence.

The spike in killings in 2022 marks a sharp reversal of the positive trend seen in recent years: while the number of murders was 99 in 2018, it fell to an average of 58 per year in 2019-2021, according to the UNESCO Monitoring Mission, which tracks killings of journalists.

These numbers, UNESCO said, are a reminder of widening gaps in legal systems around the world and demonstrate the failure of states to fulfill their obligations to protect journalists.

Killings of journalists occurred in every region, but Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest number of victims in 2022. Forty-four murders were committed there, more than half of all journalists killed worldwide. The Asia-Pacific region recorded 16 murders, and 11 journalists were killed in Eastern Europe. The deadliest countries were Mexico (19 killings), Ukraine (10) and Haiti (9).

About half of the journalists killed were off-duty at the time of the attack - on the road, at home or in parking lots and other public places. This is a continuation of the trend of recent years and means that there are no safe places for journalists, even during their off-duty hours.

Although the number of journalists killed in countries in conflict rose to 23 in 2022, up from 20 the previous year, the global increase was mainly due to killings in non-conflict countries. The figure almost doubled from 35 cases in 2021 to 61 in 2022 (three-quarters of all killings last year).

Journalists are killed for a variety of reasons: in retaliation for reporting on organized crime, armed conflict or the rise of extremism, as well as for covering topics such as corruption, environmental crime, abuse of power and protests.

Although some progress has been made over the past five years, the rate of impunity for killings of journalists remains extremely high, at 86 percent. This situation has a negative impact on the work of journalists and endangers freedom of expression worldwide. Fighting impunity remains an urgent obligation that requires further international cooperation, UNESCO reminds us.

Beyond assassination, other forms of violence remain a threat to journalists - forced disappearances, abductions and arbitrary detentions, legal harassment and digital violence, especially against women journalists.

The UNESCO report, Global Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development 2021/2022, highlights these problems by pointing to the use of defamation laws and cyberspace and "fake news" legislation to restrict freedom of expression, creating an unfriendly environment for journalists.

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