At least 81 reporters were killed doing their jobs in 2017, as harassment and attacks on journalists have been on the rise, according to the International Federation of Journalists.
Although the number of deaths are slightly down from last year’s total of 93, the IFJ cautioned that an unprecedented number of journalists were jailed in 2017, with more than 250 still in prison.
“Self-censorship was widespread and … impunity for the killings, harassment, attacks and threats against independent journalism was running at epidemic levels,” the Belgium-based organisation said in its annual report, released on Sunday.
Reporters lost their lives in targeted killings, car bombings and crossfire incidents around the world, the IFJ said, although the loss of ground by armed groups reduced journalists’ exposure to the front lines in some combat zones.
For example, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) steadily lost ground throughout 2017, with Iraq declaring an end to the war against the armed group earlier this month.
The country where the largest number of journalists were killed was Mexico, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
According to the IFJ’s data at a regional level, the Asia-Pacific region recorded the highest number of deaths (26), followed by the Arab world and Middle East (24) and the Americas (17).
Anthony Bellanger, the general secretary of the IFJ, noted that the imprisonment of dozens of journalists was also deeply concerning.
“We have more than 250 journalists in jail, and two-thirds of these journalists are in Turkey,” Bellanger told Al Jazeera.
In Egypt, meanwhile, Al Jazeera reporter Mahmoud Hussein has been detained for more than a year without any formal charges being laid.