2022 Was a Deadly Year for Journalists, Especially in Latin America

Even with journalists from around the world covering the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, Latin America turned out to be the deadliest for reporters last year, with violence against them rising to new levels, a monitoring group said Tuesday. .

67 murders were reported by 2022 worldwide, the most deaths in five years, and almost half of them took place in the region, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in its report. annual report.

“Even though Latin American countries are nominally at peace,” the nonprofit newsgroup said, “the region has surpassed the large number of journalists killed in the Ukraine war.”

Mexico alone accounted for 13 of the deaths, the most the group has recorded there in a single year. Seven journalists were killed in Haiti.

In Ukraine, where fighting has killed some 40,000 civilians since Russia invaded last February, 15 people were reported dead in the media business.

But the journalists there are covering combat, not everyday life.

In Latin America, the journalists’ committee said, reporters face death if they cover topics such as corruption, gang violence and the environment.

Katherine Corcoran, a longtime correspondent in Mexico, said Tuesday that it was more dangerous for local reporters, who lack the protections that come with working for international news organizations.

“It keeps getting worse,” said Ms Corcoran, author of a book 2022 which analyzed the attacks on the press in Mexico.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, he said, the most dangerous time to be a journalist is often not when an autocratic government is in complete control and officials may feel there’s “really no need to kill a reporter,” but when democracy begins to take hold. take hold and the centers of power shift.

The deaths of at least 41 of the journalists and media workers killed last year were directly related to their work, the committee said. He singled out in particular the shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian-American television correspondent, and the death of four radio journalists in the Philippines who had been covering local politics and corruption.

In Mexico, journalists say they are doing their jobs in fear and that even being a prominent reporter no longer seems to offer protection.

In December, gunmen on a motorcycle shot at a well-known newscaster outside his home in the capital. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador offered somewhat sympathetic words to the presenter, but many journalists argued that his openly hostile stance toward the press had put them in danger.

Even those who try to avoid covering Mexico’s notoriously violent drug traffickers, focusing instead on, say, corruption, sometimes find that their reporting paths have led them into the drug trade, Ms. Corcoran said.

In Haiti, where brutal gangs run free in some neighborhoods, the Committee to Protect Journalists said the problem was widespread lawlessness and the country’s general humanitarian emergency.

In October, Roberson Alphonse, a veteran print and radio reporter who has covered corruption and gang violence, was shot multiple times on his way to work in the capital, Port-au-Prince, by gunmen in a small van.

“Okay, okay,” Alphonse said Tuesday.

He returned to work in two months.

Alphonse, 46, said the violence has made it more difficult than ever for Haitian journalists to do their jobs, and at a time when it is especially important that they do so. The attacks, he said, are not only against freedom of expression but also against the right of Haitians to be informed.

“We are journalists,” Alphonse said. “So we have to inform the public and the world about the scale of violence that occurs in our country.”