More than half of all journalists killed this year – including Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi – were targeted deliberately, reflecting a hatred of the media voiced in many areas of society, according to a media watchdog.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday that at least 63 professional journalists were killed while doing their jobs around the world in 2018, a 15-percent increase from last year.
The number of fatalities rises to 80 when including all media workers and citizen journalists, the non-governmental organisation said.
The 2018 killings bring the total global death toll of professional journalists from the past 10 years to 702.
“The hatred of journalists that is voiced … by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” Christophe Deloire, RSF’s chief, said in a statement.
The murders of Khashoggi and the young Slovak data journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend “highlighted the lengths to which press freedom’s enemies are prepared to go”, he said.
Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and began writing for the Washington Post after moving to the US last year, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Khashoggi’s death sparked global outrage. Saudi officials have rejected accusations that the crown prince ordered his death.
The Paris-based body said the three most dangerous countries for journalists to work in were Afghanistan, Syria and Mexico.
Meanwhile, the shooting of five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper propelled the US into the ranks of the most dangerous countries.
The media freedom organisation said 348 journalists are being detained worldwide, compared with 326 at this time in 2017.
Among those is Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Hussein who has been detained in an Egyptian prison for 728 days without charge.
RSF called on the United Nations to push for the establishment of a special envoy for the protection of journalists.