#DHRecaps | '2018 worst year for journos'

#DHRecaps | '2018 worst year for journos'

Jamal Khashoggi's murder sent much of the world into a tumble with widespread anti-Saudi sentiments rising as a result of it. Reuters file photo.

The year 2018 has been the worst recorded year for violence and abuse against journalists, with a total of 80 journalists killed, 60 held hostage and 348 detained during their work, the annual round-up of Reporters Without Borders has revealed.

The report, which the RSF has made annually since 1995, says that of the 80 killed, 49 were targeted deliberately and the rest were killed during reporting. The report comes in the wake of the high-profile murders of Ján Kuciak in Slovakia and Jamal Khashoggi, the latter of which launched a political quagmire for Saudi Arabia and the United States, where Khashoggi was employed.

The report also says that among the dead, 96 percent were men and 4 percent were women.

In all, the report says that 702 journalists were killed in the past decade, with the worst years being 2012 when 87 were killed and 2015, when 82 were killed. The graph showed a declining trend since 2015, but the 2018 report puts it back on a rising curve. It said that the number of professional journalists killed rose 15%, from 55 in 2017 to 63 in 2018 and the number of non-professional journalists also rose, from seven last year to 13 this year.

The report also said that Afghanistan and Syria were the worst offenders in the death of journalists with 15 alone dead in Afghanistan and 11 in Syria. Other offenders include Mexico with 9 deaths, Yemen with 8 and the United States and India with 6 each. The report specifically mentions Afghanistan's situation as the deadliest attack on the media in the region since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, and the deadliest attack against journalists in the world since the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao, in the Philippines. It also mentions that 2018 is the first year since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that no journalists have been reported dead in the region.

Detained journalists

Among the detainees, the report says China is the worst offender with 60 journalists detained, followed by Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia with 38, 33 and 28 each. It also says that journalists who are critical of the Saudi regime in the vein of Jamal Khashoggi are being detained in the country for the same reasons. Of the 348 detainees, 324 were men and 24 were women, making it a 7 percent increase over 2017.

Journalists taken hostage

Among the journalists held hostage, the report puts Syria as the worst offender with 31 detained, Yemen with 17, Iraq with 11 and Ukraine with 1 detained. It also says that 98 percent of the hostages are in the Middle-East alone and they mostly comprise of national hostages. The number of hostages has increased by 11 percent according to the report.

It also says that the main hostage takers are the Islamic State with 24 hostages taken, the Houthis with 16, others (comprising Al-Qaeda, HTS and non-recognised groups) with 14 and Undetermineds with 6.

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said this on the release of the report: “The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists."

“Amplified by social networks, which bear heavy responsibility in this regard, these expressions of hatred legitimize violence, thereby undermining journalism, and democracy itself, a bit more every day.”

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