Journalist Murders Double in 2020, Press Freedom Group Says

The number of journalists murdered for their work doubled in 2020, as criminal gangs and militant groups sought to silence reporting with violence, a new report says.  At least 30 journalists were killed between January 1 and December 15, including 21 who were murdered, and others who were killed in crossfire or while on assignments, the report by press freedom organization the FILE – Afghan journalist Rahmatullah Nikzad poses for a photograph in Kabul, July 29, 2019. He was killed Dec. 21, 2020.Rahmatullah Nikzad, who was head of a local press union, is the fifth journalist to be killed in Afghanistan in the past two months. The attacks also claimed the life of Elyas Dayee, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Afghan service.  Cartels, criminal groups and militants in democratic but violent countries account for the doubling of murders in 2020, CPJ found.   Two of the deadliest countries — Mexico and the Philippines — have protection mechanisms in place that are supposed to improve journalist safety.  A failure to secure prosecutions in journalist killings adds to the problem, said Courtney Radsch, advocacy director at CPJ.  “Nobody is typically held accountable, and there are not meaningful investigations into a lot of these murders,” Radsch said. “It just sends a signal that reporters are expendable, and you don’t really need to worry because no one’s going to hold you accountable.” FILE – People hold posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the two-year anniversary of his death, Oct. 2, 2020.“We need people to be brave enough to continue exposing corruption, exposing crime,” he said.  The United States has introduced legislation that will hold countries that commit rights abuses against journalists accountable via sanctions and restrictions on foreign aid.  The Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act was named in honor of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Khashoggi who was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. “We must ensure that journalists in the United States and around the world are able to do their jobs without fear of harm,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who proposed the bill with her Democratic colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.  “It is unacceptable to suppress, imprison and violently target the press, and the Jamal Khashoggi Act would ensure that the United States holds foreign governments who attempt to do so accountable.”  

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