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Journalists’ rights group counts 94 media workers killed worldwide, most at an alarming rate in Gaza

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BRUSSELS (AP) — A leading organization representing journalists worldwide expressed deep concern Friday at the number of media professionals killed around the globe doing their jobs in 2023, with Israel’s war with Hamas claiming more journalists than any conflict in over 30 years.

In its annual count of media worker deaths, the International Federation of Journalists said 94 journalists had been killed so far this year and almost 400 others had been imprisoned.

The group called for better protection for media workers and for their attackers to be held to account.

“The imperative for a new global standard for the protection of journalists and effective international enforcement has never been greater,” IFJ President Dominique Pradalié said.

The group said 68 journalists had been killed covering the Israeli-Hamas war since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 — more than one a day and 72% of all media deaths worldwide. It said the overwhelming majority of them were Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli forces continue their offensive.

“The war in Gaza has been more deadly for journalists than any single conflict since the IFJ began recording journalists killed in the line of duty in 1990,” the group said, adding that deaths have come at “a scale and pace of loss of media professionals’ lives without precedent.”

Ukraine also “remains a dangerous country for journalists” almost two years since Russia’s invasion, the organization said. It said three reporters and media workers had been killed in that war so far this year.

The organization also deplored media deaths in Afghanistan, the Philippines, India, China and Bangladesh.

It expressed concern that crimes against media workers are going unpunished and urged governments “to shed full light on these murders and to put in place measures to ensure the safety of journalists.”

It noted a drop in the number of journalists killed in North and South America, from 29 last year to seven so far in 2023. The group said the three Mexicans, one Paraguayan, one Guatemalan, one Colombian and one American were slain while investigating armed groups or the embezzlement of public funds.

Africa remained the region least affected by deaths of journalists, but the organization highlighted what it described as “three particularly shocking murders” in Cameroon and Lesotho that it said have yet to be fully investigated.

In all, 393 media workers were being held in prison so far this year, the group said. The biggest number were jailed in China and Hong Kong — 80 journalists — followed by 54 in Myanmar, 41 in Turkey, 40 in Russia and occupied Crimea in Ukraine, 35 in Belarus and 23 in Egypt.

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