PORT OPRENCE, Haiti (AP) — In 2022, the number of murders of journalists worldwide increased by 50% compared to the previous year, mainly due to attacks in Ukraine, Mexico and Haiti.
At least 67 media workers were killed worldwide in 2022, the highest number since 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Journalists in the three countries say the increased danger has forced them to work under extreme stress conditions.
The effect is particularly noticeable in Haiti, where seven journalists were killed in 2022, a huge number for a small island country of about 12 million people. Some of them were killed by violent street gangs that took over mainly the capital Port-au-Prince, but at least two were shot dead by the police.
Radio Caraibes reporter Mackenson Remy, who still covers the news on the streets, said reporters no longer know who to trust.
“Reporting in Haiti is currently extremely difficult for journalists, especially in the capital,” Remy said. “Corruption is everywhere; there is no one you can rely on.”
Remy likened his job, driving around the city streets divided into gangster territories, to the 1998 film The Truman Show, in which the protagonist always feels like he is being watched.
CPJ notes that more than half—35 of the 67 murders—occurred in just three countries: Ukraine, Mexico, and Haiti. According to the committee, 13 media workers were killed in Mexico. Other media groups have cited the number 15, which would make 2022 the deadliest year in at least three decades for Mexican journalists. According to CPJ, 15 media workers were killed in war-torn Ukraine last year.
CPJ said it confirmed that 41 of the 67 journalists were killed “in direct connection with their work” and that it was investigating motives for 26 more killings.
CPJ said that journalists covering the war in Ukraine are “at enormous risk.”
“Members of the press are often injured in shelling while covering the conflict, and some report that they have been targeted by Russian forces,” the committee’s report says.
In Mexico, the killings appear to have been due to a toxic mixture of drug gang violence, local political corruption, and a lack of punishment for the killers.
Sonia de Anda writes for the Esquina32 news website in the northern border city of Tijuana, where two journalists were killed during a week in January 2022. She said the journalists changed their work habits or turned to the police for protection after the killings.
“It changed the whole dynamic of our work,” said De Anda. “If reporters go to a high-risk area that is further away, they will tell their colleagues where they are going.” She also noted that requests for official protection “grew exponentially” after the killings.
On January 17, 2022, crime photographer Margarito Martinez was shot and killed outside his home. Five days later, on January 23, reporter Lourdes Maldonado Lopez was found shot to death in her car.
Investigators said a local drug gang boss paid gunmen about $1,000 to kill a news photographer because he thought Martinez had taken pictures of either him or his family. The photo in question did not belong to Martinez.
The authorities arrested and tried several low-ranking militants, but not those who ordered the killings. “The message the authorities are leaving is that anyone can come and kill you for $1,000,” CPJ said in a statement.
The 2022 killings also involved four journalists in the Philippines and two each in Colombia, Brazil and Honduras. Two journalists were also killed in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Somalia and Chad.
Last year, on September 2, one journalist was killed in the United States: Jeff German, a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The elected official from Las Vegas, about whom Herman wrote articles, pleaded not guilty to the murder.