By Emily Frisan
For 40 years now, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent nonprofit organization based in New York City, has been promoting press freedom worldwide. Their aim is to defend the rights of journalists and their abilities to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal. The CPJ’s 2022 interactive map and report, ‘Attacks on the Press,’ found that risks to journalists’ lives and liberties majorly escalated in 2022, a new global high that surpassed the 2021 record by some 20 percent. As of December of 2022, the CPJ documented 363 journalists currently imprisoned and attacked for their work; and between 1993 to now, 2,187 journalists and media workers have been killed.
In 1992, the CPJ began compiling detailed records on all journalist deaths. If motives for death or imprisonment are unclear, yet there is significant potential of the journalist in question dying in relation to their work, the CPJ classifies the case as “unconfirmed” and continues to investigate. Journalists remain on Center’s list until the organization can determine with reasonable certainty that they have been released or have died in custody.
Authoritarian leaders continue to double down on efforts to silence dissenting voices and stifle press freedom. In 2022, 36 countries had imprisoned journalists, according to what has been documented. The top five jailers of journalists were Iran, China, Myanmar, Turkey, and Belarus, respectively, with Iran leading imprisonment rates with 62 captives, followed by China (43), Myanmar (42), Turkey (40), Belarus (26), Egypt (21), Vietnam (21), and Russia (19). While extensive surveillance makes it increasingly difficult to track the exact number of prisoners or reasons for imprisonment, major drivers have been those trying to keep the lid on COVID-19, suspects of treason, and the economic fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine.
At least 67 journalists and media workers were killed in the course of 2022, the highest number since 2018 and an almost 50 percent increase from 2021. More than half of these murders occurred in just three countries: Ukraine (15), Mexico (13), and Haiti (7) – the highest yearly numbers CPJ has ever recorded for these three countries. The rise was the result of a high number of journalists being killed while covering the war in Ukraine, as well as a sharp rise in killings across Latin America. The CPJ is continuing its extensive research to determine the motives and mysteries behind many of the unsolved killings. Make sure to check out their report here.