Violence against journalists and media has increased in Afghanistan in recent months, although a respite might have been expected as a result of the peace talks between the Afghan and Taliban peace negotiators.

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: 50 journalists were killed worldwide in 2020, according to a report of abusive treatment and violence against journalists, published Monday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).  

While the number of journalists killed in countries at war continues to fall, more are being murdered in countries not at war. It highlighted murders in Mexico, India and Pakistan.

“RSF tallied 50 cases of journalists killed in connection with their work from January 1 to December 15, 2020, a number similar to 2019 (when 53 journalists were killed), although fewer journalists have been in the field this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report said.

More journalists are being killed in countries considered to be “at peace.”  

In 2016, 58% of media fatalities took place in war zones. Now only 32% of the fatalities are in war-torn countries such as Syria or Yemen or in countries with low or medium-intensity conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq.  

In other words, 68% (more than two thirds) of the fatalities are in countries “at peace,” above all Mexico (with eight journalists killed), India (four), the Philippines (three) and Honduras (three).

84% of those killed this year were “deliberately targeted” for their work, RSF said in its annual report, compared to 63% in 2019.

“For several years now, Reporters Without Borders has noted that investigative journalists are really in the crosshairs of states, or cartels,” said Pauline Ades-Mevel, RSF editor-in-chief.

In Afghanistan, December was marked by another execution, that of Malalai Maiwand, a journalist with Enekaas TV and representative of the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the report said.

She was the victim of an execution-style murder when she and her driver were shot dead by gunmen near her home. Mohammad Aliyas Dayee, a journalist with the Pashto-language section of Radio Azadi, the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was also killed by a bomb placed under his car in the southwestern city of Lashkargah in November.   Violence against journalists and media has increased in Afghanistan in recent months, although a respite might have been expected as a result of the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Three other journalists were killed by car bombs and explosions this year. While none of