Number of journalists murdered doubles in 2020

Syria and Iraq are the most dangerous countries for journalists in Middle East

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 30, 2020, Ruhollah Zam, a former opposition figure who had lived in exile in France and had been implicated in anti-government protests, speaks during his trial at Iran's Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Iranian state television said the "counter-revolutionary" Zam was hanged in the morning of December 12, 2020, after the supreme court upheld his sentence due to "the severity of the crimes" committed against the Islamic republic. / AFP / MIZAN NEWS AGENCY / ALI SHIRBAND

The number of journalists targeted and killed has doubled globally in 2020, according to data compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The findings released on Tuesday found at least 30 journalists were killed this year, 21 of whom were targeted because of their work. The number of those murdered is more than double the previous record of 2019, which was 10. The others were killed covering conflict or during high-risk assignments.

While Mexico tops the list for the country with the highest number of journalist killings this year, Syria comes second, while in the Middle East Iraq is third, and Yemen and Iran are tied at fourth. Abdul Nasser Haj Hamdan, Amjad Anas Aktalati, Hussein Khattab and Rasheed Bakr were killed in Syria. Safaa Ghali and Ahmed Abdul Samad were killed in Iraq while on dangerous assignment.

In Iran, CPJ singled out the murder of executed journalist Roohollah Zam by authorities on December 12. He was sentenced to death on anti-state charges for his coverage of protests in 2017 and lured into Iraq where he was detained by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

In Yemen, CPJ documented the murder of journalist Nabil Hasan Al Quaety, who was killed outside his home in the southern port city of Aden on June 2, 2020. Other countries that saw a rise in the number of journalists killed while working were Afghanistan (4 killed), India (2) and Philippines (3).

Two of the journalists killed this year, Maria Elena Ferral Hernández in Mexico and Malalai Maiwand in Afghanistan, were female. Ms Maiwand was a 25-year-old reporter at Enikass Radio and TV in Afghanistan and also a women’s rights and civil society activist. Earlier this year, Maiwand told Tolo News that she was receiving threats from both the Taliban and ISIS.

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