A new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says that during 2018 a minimum of 53 journalists were killed throughout the world. This is evidence that more autocratic leaders in more countries are threatening democracy and freedom of the press.
According to the report:
“The number of journalists targeted for murder in reprisal for their reporting nearly doubled in 2018 from a year earlier, driving up the overall count of journalists killed on the job. Afghanistan, where extremists have stepped up deliberate attacks on journalists, was the deadliest country and accounted for much of the increase.”
Thirteen journalists were killed in Afghanistan this year, the most since CPJ began tracking statistics on journalists’ deaths, according to the report.
CPJ found that the majority of journalists were killed as retaliation for their truthful reporting on topics that leaders of their country wanted kept secret. They said that from January 1 to Dec. 14, 2018, 34 journalists were killed in retaliation for their published writings and investigative work. This is nearly double the number of journalists killed as retaliation during 2017.
Nearly two-thirds of the journalists murdered for their work were covering politics.
The Committee, based in New York City, used the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident at the time of his death, to bring attention to what it termed “a significant lack of international leadership for journalists’ rights and safety.“
Khashoggi was a prominent critic of the Saudi Kingdom and was sent into exile after the Saudi government prohibited him from working in his home country. He was banned in Saudi Arabia for criticizing Donald Trump.
He came to the United States and was working as a columnist for The Washington Post when he was murdered by assassins sent by the Saudi Arabian government in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2 of this year.
Khashoggi’s death has led to widespread backlash from many sources, including U.S. members of Congress. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution last week holding Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the murder.
“Essentially, Trump signaled that countries that do enough business with the United States are free to murder journalists without consequence,” CPJ wrote in its report.
Journalists have also died in the war-torn countries of Syrian and Yemen. But the CPJ report says that the number of journalists who were killed in conflict zones fell to the lowest number they have seen in the past seven years.
Four journalists and a newspaper staff member were also killed in an attack earlier this year at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD, which resulted in many people complaining that President Trump should stop calling the free media “the enemy of the people.” Trump’s language is the same as is used in dictatorships, and his efforts to undermine the free press have been widely criticized.