2022 has been a deadly year for journalists, especially in Latin America

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Even with journalists from around the world covering the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, it was Latin America that proved the deadliest for journalists last year, with violence against them reaching new levels, a monitoring group said on Tuesday.

There were 67 reported killings for 2022 globally – the highest number of deaths in five years – and nearly half of those took place in the region, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in its report. report. Annual Report.

“Although Latin American countries are theoretically at peace,” the nonprofit news group said, “the region has surpassed the high number of journalists killed during the war in Ukraine.”

Mexico alone accounted for 13 of the deaths, the most the group has ever recorded in a single year. Seven journalists were reportedly killed in Haiti.

In Ukraine, where fighting has killed around 40,000 civilians since Russia invaded last February, 15 people in the media sector are reported to have been killed.

But the journalists there cover the fight, not daily life.

In Latin America, the journalists’ committee said, journalists risk death if they cover topics such as corruption, gang violence and the environment.

Katherine Corcoran, a longtime correspondent in Mexico, said Tuesday it was most dangerous for local journalists, who lack the protections that come with working for international news outlets.

“It’s only getting worse,” said Ms Corcoran, author of a book 2022 which examined the attacks on the press in Mexico.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, she said, the most dangerous time to be a journalist is often not when an autocratic government is totally in control and officials may think “it’s really not no need to kill a journalist”, but when democracy begins to take hold and the centers of power shift.

The deaths of at least 41 of the journalists and media workers killed last year were directly linked to their work, the committee said. He noted in particular the shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh, a former US-Palestinian television correspondent, and the deaths of four radio journalists in the Philippines who covered local politics and corruption.

In Mexico, journalists say they do their job in fear and that even being a top reporter no longer seems to protect them.

In December, gunmen on motorbikes shot a well-known news presenter outside his home in the capital. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador offered somewhat sympathetic words to the anchor, but many journalists argued that his openly hostile stance towards the press put them at risk.

Even those who try to avoid covering Mexico’s notoriously violent drug traffickers, focusing instead on, say, corruption, sometimes find that their reporting routes have led them into the drug trade, Ms. Corcoran said.

In Haiti, where brutal gangs have carte blanche in some neighborhoods, the Committee to Protect Journalists said the problem was widespread lawlessness and the country’s overall humanitarian emergency.

In October, Roberson Alphonse, a longtime journalist and radio reporter who has covered corruption and gang violence, was shot several times on his way to work in the capital, Port-au-Prince, by armed men in a small van.

“It’s good, it’s good,” Mr. Alphonse said on Tuesday.

He was back at work within two months.

Mr. Alphonse, who is 46, said the violence has made it harder than ever for Haitian journalists to do their job – and at a time when it is particularly important for them to do so. The attacks, he said, are not only aimed at freedom of expression but also the right of Haitians to be informed.

“We are journalists,” Mr. Alphonse said. “So we need to inform the public and the world about the magnitude of the violence that is happening in our country.”