PORT-AU-PRINCE – Killings of journalists around the world jumped by 50% in 2022 compared to the previous year, driven largely by attacks in Ukraine, Mexico and Haiti.
According to a report Tuesday by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 67 news media workers were killed worldwide in 2022, the highest number since 2018. Journalists in the three countries say the increased danger has forced them to work under extreme stress.
The effect is particularly notable in Haiti, where seven journalists were killed in 2022, a huge number for a small island country of about 12 million people. Some were killed by violent street gangs that have basically taken over the capital, Port au Prince, but at least two were shot by police.
Radio Caraibes reporter Mackenson Remy, who still covers news on the street, said journalists no longer know whom to trust.
“Reporting in Haiti nowadays is extremely difficult for journalists, specifically in the capital,” Remy said. “Corruption is all over the place; there is no one you are able to count on.”
Remy compared his work driving around the city's streets, carved up into gang territories, to the 1998 movie “The Truman Show,” in which the protagonist always feels like he's being watched.
The CPJ noted that more than half — 35 of the 67 killings — took place in just three countries: Ukraine, Mexico and Haiti. Mexico saw 13 news workers killed, according to the committee. Other media groups have put the number at 15, which would make 2022 the deadliest year in at least three decades for Mexican journalists. In war-battered Ukraine, 15 news workers were killed last year, CPJ said.
The CPJ said it had confirmed that 41 of the 67 journalists were killed “in direct connection with their work,” and that it is investigating the motives for the 26 other slayings.
The CPJ said journalists covering the war in Ukraine “face enormous risk."
"Members of the press are frequently injured by shelling while covering the conflict, and some report that they have been targeted by Russian forces,” the committee said in its report.
In Mexico, the slayings appeared to be due to a toxic mix of drug gang violence, local political corruption and a lack of punishment for killers.
Sonia de Anda reports for the Esquina32 news website in the northern border city of Tijuana, where two journalists were killed in the space of a week in January 2022. She said reporters there have changed their work habits or requested police protection since the killings.
“This changed our entire work dynamic,” De Anda said. “If reporters go to a high-risk area that's further away, they'll tell their colleagues where they are going.” She also noted that requests for official protection “increased exponentially” after the killings.
On Jan. 17, 2022, crime photographer Margarito Martínez was gunned down outside his home. Five days later on Jan. 23, reporter Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot to death inside her car.
Investigators said a local drug gang boss paid gunmen about $1,000 to kill the news photographer because he thought Martínez had taken a picture of either him or his family. The photo in question was not Martínez's.
Authorities have arrested and put on trial a few low-ranking gunmen, but not those who ordered the killings. “The message that the authorities are leaving is that anyone can come around and kill you for $1,000,” the CPJ said.
The 2022 killings also included four journalists in the Philippines, and two each in Colombia, Brazil and Honduras. Two journalists each were also killed in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Somalia and Chad.
One journalist was killed in the United States last year, on Sept. 2: Jeff German, a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A Las Vegas-area elected official about whom German had written articles has pleaded not guilty to the slaying.