IFJ Says 120 Journalists Killed Worldwide in 2023

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Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global federation of journalists’ unions based in Brussels, Belgium, has reported in its annual list of journalists killed that a total of 120 journalists and media workers were killed in 2023, out of which 11 were women, with Africa accounting for eight of the deaths.

IFJ published their names on December 8, 2023, to commemorate the United Nations Human Rights Day, celebrated December 10 every year.

The Federation expressed serious concern over the rising number of journalists facing violence and persecution while carrying out their duties in 2023. According to the IFJ, it had earlier published an initial list of journalists killed ahead of UN Human Rights Day on December 8 documenting 94 killings. It says the recent increase is the result of additional deaths in the Gaza war as well as other killings later discovered.

The IFJ recorded that 68% of journalists and media workers’ fatalities in 2023, occurred during the Gaza conflict. In the Middle East, the toll of the war in Gaza resulted in the deaths of 75 Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese journalists. Three media workers also lost their lives in Syria.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, 12 journalists fell victim to violence, including three incidents in India, two in Afghanistan, two in Philippines, two in Bangladesh, two in Pakistan, and one case in China.

In North and South America, 10 journalists lost their lives in 2023. The casualties included three Mexicans, one Paraguayan, three Guatemalans, one Colombian, one Honduran, and one American.

According to the report, Africa witnessed a distressing toll, with eight unresolved murders: two in Cameroon, and one each in Sudan, Lesotho, Mali, Somalia, Mozambique, Nigeria, and one accidental killing in Rwanda.

IFJ drew attention to four particularly shocking murders in Cameroon, Sudan, and Lesotho, emphasizing the need for comprehensive investigations.

In Europe, three journalists and media workers; a Ukrainian, a Russian, and a French national, lost their lives in the Ukrainian war, and a case of one media worker in Albania who fell victim to violence.

Lamenting the death of the media practitioners, IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Today our thoughts go out to journalists’ families and our colleagues in world newsrooms who are mourning the deaths of colleagues killed for simply doing their jobs. While we always remind journalists that no story is worth their life, there are too many situations where they are deliberately targeted to cover up stories and restrict the public’s right to know. It is a democratic right of citizens to be duly informed; it is governments’ responsibility to ensure journalists are protected to report independently. The deadly figures from this year illustrate how badly we need an international binding instrument forcing states to adopt key mechanisms to protect journalists’ safety and independence.”

Expressing concern over the impunity surrounding crimes against media workers, IFJ urged governments worldwide to thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for these attacks. The organization noted a decline in journalist deaths in North and South America, from 29 in the previous year to seven in 2023, with the victims often targeted while investigating armed groups or public fund embezzlement.

As for imprisoned journalists, the report indicated that 393 media workers were held in custody globally in 2023. China and Hong Kong topped the list with 80 journalists, followed by 54 in Myanmar, 41 in Turkey, 40 in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea, 35 in Belarus, and 23 in Egypt.