The number of journalists killed globally in 2023 has significantly decreased, even amid the conflict in Gaza, according to Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) latest report.
As of 1 December 2023, the report states that 45 journalists were killed in the line of duty, the lowest number since 2002. This decline is noted despite the ongoing conflict in Gaza, where at least 13 journalists have been killed since hostilities between Israel and Hamas began.
RSF attributes the global decline in journalist fatalities to improved security measures within news organisations, including better training and the provision of protective gear. Additionally, the report suggests that concerted efforts to combat impunity and initiatives by both inter-governmental organisations and NGOs have played a significant role in this trend.
In Latin America, the situation for journalists shows a marked improvement but remains concerning. The number of journalists killed in the region fell from 26 in 2022 to six in 2023. However, the report underscores ongoing risks, as evidenced by recent abductions and armed attacks in Mexico. The violence experienced in Latin America in the previous year has reportedly led to a rise in self-censorship among journalists, particularly in covering topics like organised crime and corruption.
The report also points out the continued danger of war zones for journalists. In 2023, 23 journalists were reportedly killed while reporting in conflict zones, with the majority – 17 – in the Israel-Hamas conflict, including 13 in Gaza. This is the first instance in five years where more journalists were killed in conflict areas than in non-conflict zones.
Regarding the detention of journalists, RSF’s report notes a decrease globally, with 521 journalists detained as of the end of 2023, compared to 569 in the previous year. China is highlighted as the world’s largest jailer of journalists, with 121 media professionals in custody. Belarus, under Alexander Lukashenko, is mentioned as joining the ranks of the top three countries for detaining journalists, holding 39 in total.
The report also sheds light on the situation in Iran and Turkey. The decline in the overall number of journalists detained worldwide is partially attributed to fewer journalists being imprisoned in these countries as of 1 December 2023, with Iran’s numbers down by 24 and Turkey’s by 23. However, RSF emphasises that this does not imply a cessation of journalist detentions in these nations. The report reveals that in 2023, a total of 43 Turkish journalists and 58 Iranian journalists were imprisoned at various times.
The report concludes by highlighting that 54 journalists are currently held hostage worldwide, with Mexico continuing to be the country with the most journalists listed as missing, accounting for 31 out of a total of 84 globally.