PH ranks third with most journalists killed in 2020, new report finds

Center for Freedom and Media Responsibility executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus stressed that the dynamism of the Philippine press has been challenged by President Rodrigo Duterte, who has a rocky relationship with journalists and media owners.
| The STAR/Kriz John Rosales

THE Philippines ranks among the countries with the most retaliatory killings of journalists in 2020, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a new report.

Globally, at least 30 journalists were killed from January 1 to December 15 this year, up from the 26 killings in 2019. Of the recent number, 21 were murdered in retaliation for their work, while others were killed in combat or crossfire or on another assignment that turned dangerous.

“The number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, as criminal gangs and militant groups targeted reporters working in violent but democratic nations,” said Jennifer Dunham in her special report.

The Philippines ranked third in the deadliest countries for journalists, with three confirmed journalist deaths in 2020.

“In the Philippines, at least three journalists were murdered in retaliation for their work in 2020, despite the efforts of the Presidential Task Force for Media Security, a state body that President Rodrigo Duterte created four years ago to solve media killings,” Dunham noted.

“Duterte and his government claimed to have made progress in combating impunity, but in reality have fallen short, failing to prosecute the masterminds of murders and… undermining the press with hostile rhetoric, most notably by Duterte himself,” she added.

Mexico placed first with five confirmed killings, followed by Syria and Afghanistan which were tied at the second spot with four killings.

“In Mexico, at least four journalists were targeted for murder in 2020, and one more was gunned down while reporting from a crime scene,” Dunham said. “Mexico has long been the most dangerous country in the Western hemisphere for the press, which operates amid a complex web of criminal, drug-trafficking gangs and entrenched official corruption.”

The CPJ found that criminal groups were the most frequently suspected killers of journalists in 2020, while politics was the most dangerous beat.

It is also still investigating the deaths of 15 other journalists worldwide to determine whether journalism was the motive.

“It’s appalling that the murders of journalists have more than doubled in the last year, and this escalation represents a failure of the international community to confront the scourge of impunity,” Joel Simon, the CPJ’s executive director, said.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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