At least 15 journalists were killed while covering the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria this year, making the two Middle Eastern countries the “deadliest” for reporters.
It was the first time in six years that Syria did not top the list as at least eight correspondents died in Iraq, a new report by the US-based non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) revealed on Thursday.
According to the report, at least 42 journalists – including eight women – were killed globally from the beginning of this year to December 15, 2017. Last year CPJ recorded 48 deaths among journalists.
“Surges in journalists deaths have been linked to coverage of conflict, so it’s certainly good news that there are fewer media deaths in the Middle East. It’s also a reminder of why journalist safety worldwide must remain a priority,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director in a statement.
The report also found that the increase in the number of journalist deaths in Mexico reached a “historical high” this year, with at least seven people killed in reprisal for their work.
Among those killed in Iraq’s Mosul was 30-year-old Shifa Gardi, an Iraqi Kurdish TV journalist who died in a roadside bomb blast while covering clashes between Iraqi forces and ISIL in February.
In June, a Kurdish journalist and French reporter were killed in an explosion in Mosul.
Groups with political affiliations were responsible for 45 percent of the total deaths, according to the findings of the report.
The number of journalists who have been targeted in reprisal for their reporting has dropped in the past two years, and according to CPJ’s records, which date back to 1992, about two-thirds of journalists killed are usually “singled out for murder in retaliation for their work.”
The decline may be due to various factors such as self-censorship and imprisonment as alternative means to silence reporters.
Other areas of conflict where journalists and media workers have been killed include Yemen and Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, CPJ released a report that placed the number of jailed journalists at 262 – a “record high” this year.
While government crackdowns continue to take place in countries like Egypt, Turkey and China, detaining journalists is usually a tool used as part of wider crackdowns on dissent.
Monday marked one year since Al Jazeera reporter Mahmoud Hussein has been held in an Egyptian prison infamous for its human rights abuses.
He is accused of “incitement against state institutions” and broadcasting false news” – allegations that have been rejected by Al Jazeera.