December 16, 2019 – Updated on December 17, 2019
RSF yearly round-up: “historically low” number of journalists killed in 2019
Unprecedented fall in the number of journalists killedREAD MOREHERE
The number of journalists killed this year – 49 – is the lowest since 2003, and represents a spectacular 44% fall on last year’s figure. This year’s “historically low” figure, compared with an annual average of 80 journalists killed during the past two decades, is above all the result of a fall in the number of journalists killed in war zones.
Covering conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan was two times less deadly for journalists in 2019 – with a combined total of 17 journalists killed in these three countries compared with 34 in 2018.
This unprecedented fall must not however eclipse the fact that the number of journalists killed in countries at peace continues to be as high as in previous years. In Mexico, for example, ten journalists were killed in 2019, the same number as last year. With a combined total of 14 journalists killed, Latin America is now as deadly for journalists as the Middle East., with all of its wars.
As a result of these dual trends – less deadly war zones, but countries at peace as dangerous as ever – more journalists (59%) are now being killed in countries at peace than in war zones. At the same time, there has been a 2% increase in journalists being deliberately murdered or targeted.
“The frontier between countries at war and countries at peace is in the process of disappearing for journalists,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We welcome the unprecedented fall in the number of journalists killed in war zones but, at the same time, more and more journalists are being deliberately murdered in connection with their work in democratic countries, which poses a real challenge for the democracies where these journalists live and work.”
Increase in arbitrary detention
Another worrying aspect of this year’s round-up is the number of arbitrarily detained journalists, which has risen yet again. Worldwide, a total of 389 journalists are currently in prison in connection with their work, 12% more than last year. Nearly half of these journalists are being held by three countries: China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Having intensified its crackdown on the Uyghur minority, China alone holds a third of the worldwide total of arbitrarily detained journalists.
Compiled by RSF every year since 1995, the annual round-up of abusive treatment and deadly violence against journalists is based on precise data covering the period from 1 January to 1 December. We gather detailed information that allows us to affirm with certainty or a great deal of confidence that the death, detention, abduction or disappearance of each journalist was a direct result of their journalistic work.