Nine out ten crimes
against journalists go unpunished. In Mexico, seven journalists have been killed in 2019; ten were killed in 2018; nine in 2017. More than 100 journalists have been killed within the past two decades
. Globally, at least 99 journalists were killed
in 2018, more than double the amount from a decade ago.
In May, 28-year-old Francisco Romero, an organized-crime investigative journalist with Quintana Roo Hoy newspaper, received a tip to a potential story, when he arrived to the scene of the story he was ambushed and executed. Within the two months leading to his death, Romero had been kidnapped by armed men, detained by Mexican police for refusing to pay a bribe, and threatened with being thrown off a bridge.
Shortly after Romero's murder, gunmen shot dead crime reporter Norma Sarabia at her home’s front door in Tabasco state, Mexico. Sarabia, a veteran journalist known for her courage and dedication, had received several threats for denouncing police corruption in Tabasco Hoy newspaper.
In May, Panorama Geral’s owner Valerio Nascimento was executed in an ambush, and gunmen shot dead the founder of news website Jornal O Maricá, Robson Giorno. Subsequently, in June, Romario da Silva Barros, a journalist with Le Seica Maricá, was found shot to death in his vehicle. All these killings took place in Brazil.
In October 2018, in an unprecedented, heinous crime against a journalist in a foreign country's diplomatic facility, Washington Post columnist and Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and his body dismembered by Saudi intelligence officers inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that this crime was concocted within the highest echelons of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
While investigating the involvement of Russian private military contractors in Central African Republic’s (CAR) mining activity, Russian journalists Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev, and Orkhan Dzhemal were ambushed and killed in July 2018. A CNN article links the Wagner Group — a group of Russian paramilitary contractors with close ties to the Kremlin — and a CAR-based Russian intelligence expert to the murders.
These killings are not exclusive to crime-ridden countries like Mexico, CAR, and Brazil or to the conflict-battered Middle East; journalists are being killed everywhere. Recently, in the United Kingdom, members of the New IRA, a group of dissident republicans opposing the peace process in Northern Ireland, shot dead investigative journalist Lyra McKee.
It is critical that media freedom becomes a priority across the desks of global leaders. Influential, likeminded countries like the U.S., South Korea, the UK, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Australia and France, and multilateral platforms like ASEAN, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, MERCOSUR, the G7 and G20 summits, and the European Union must collectively promote media freedom, engaging developing countries and challenging powerful countries ranking poorly in the World Press Freedom Index — a source that indicates the level of freedom and adversities that journalists experience in every country.
Initiatives like the Global Conference for Media Freedom, which took place in July, are excellent platforms to raise awareness in respect to the perils that journalists currently face and the pitfalls that impunity and inaction from world leaders generate around this matter. This Conference encouraged several governments around the world to sign a pledge aimed at working collaboratively on protecting media freedom.
A free press is fundamental to maintain the international order. Political, criminal, and corporate accountability is not possible without media scrutiny. It is therefore imperative that world leaders unreservedly condemn crimes against journalists, demand justice, and adopt a moral, judicious approach towards achieving and protecting a global free press.
Ramon Collado holds a graduate degree from New York University's Center for Global Affairs. Collado has contributed to Forbes, The Hill, The Jerusalem Post, The Miami Herald, El Dia, and other major news sources. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.
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