The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that 55 journalists and media workers were killed in 2021, noting that impunity against journalists is extremely widespread.
“Once again in 2021, far too many journalists have paid the ultimate price to shed light on the truth,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said Thursday.
“Today the world needs independent factual information more than ever. We need to do more to ensure that those who work tirelessly to provide this can do so without fear. “
Although the death toll is at its lowest in a decade, UNESCO has highlighted the many dangers journalists face when trying to cover stories and expose wrongdoing.
In 2021, as in previous years, journalists faced high rates of imprisonment, physical assault, intimidation and harassment, including when covering protests.
Women journalists continue to be particularly at risk as they are subject to “a shocking prevalence of online harassment,” UNESCO said, citing data which showed that nearly three-quarters of female media professionals interviewed had experienced violence. online related to their work.
According to the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists, two-thirds of the victims in 2021 died in countries where there is no armed conflict.
This marks a complete turnaround in 2013, when two-thirds of killings took place in countries in conflict.
Most of the deaths in 2021 occurred in just two regions, Asia-Pacific – with 23 murders, and Latin America and the Caribbean – with 14.
On Wednesday, Azoulay condemned the murder of Burmese journalist Sai Win Aung.
Aung – also known as A Sai K – died on December 25 while covering the plight of refugees in Southeastern Kayin State.
During his assignment for the Federal News Journal, he was shot dead in an artillery attack by Myanmar armed forces, UNESCO said, citing information making him the second journalist to be killed. in Myanmar in December 2021.
UNESCO has a global mandate to guarantee freedom of expression and the safety of journalists around the world.
Whenever a journalist or media professional is killed, the agency systematically urges authorities to conduct a thorough investigation.
The agency also coordinates the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which marks its 10th anniversary in 2022.
UNESCO also provides training for journalists and judicial actors, works with governments to develop supportive policies and laws and raises awareness around the world through events such as World Press Freedom Day, which is commemorated each year on May 3. (NOPE)